In Beyond a Boundary, James explored a generous conception of “the political” through a lens fashioned by cultural historians and social theorists. For a number of reasons, cricket became the subject that allowed him a unity of theoretical perspective and heuristic focus, “offer[ing] him an ideal terrain on which to examine the issues that interested him at a moment in his life, the mid-1950s, when certain assumptions that had guided him up to then turned out to be insufficient.” It was a work that polished a reputation during his lifetime as both “the black Plato” and “the black Hegel.” With Rosengarten, we might ask, “Why cricket?”
“Because this was a sport where many of the problems of social life were made manifest in the racial and class composition of the teams James played on and wrote about, in the significance which people of all ages attributed to the game, and in the qualities demonstrated by the sport’s greatest players: endurance, courage, strength, and above all, in James’s view, boldness and individuality
Frank Rosengarten, Urbane Revolutionary: C.L.R. James and the Struggle for a New Society. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2008: 234.