The quest for identity and belonging: through the theatre of cricket

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The quest for identity and belonging: through the theatre of cricket

We speak to British playwright Maatin about his play Duck, which looks at the cricketing events of 2005 through the prism of a 15-year-old boy in a public school in London.

Duck is running in Arcola Theatre from June 27 – July 15. You can buy tickets to the play here.

What the play is about:

It’s the summer of 2005, and Ismail – ‘Smiley’ to his friends – is about to become the youngest-ever player in his elite public school’s First XI cricket team. He sets his sights on immortality – breaking the school batting record and getting his name into Wisden. But at the start of the season, new coach Mr. Eagles takes a particular dislike to him, threatening to derail Ismail’s historic moment. Worse still, no one seems to get what he’s going through. Set during England’s famous Ashes victory and the events of 7/7, Ismail discovers that cricket might not be able to take care of everything as it once did.

Talking Points:

  • The impetus to write the play and how closely it resembles Maatin’s childhood
  • The challenges of being an outsider in the British public school system
  • The memories of the 2005 Ashes when seen along with the 7/7 bombings
  • Azim Rafiq’s testimony and what it meant for minorities in English cricket
  • The burden of needing to be a ‘good immigrant’ in England
  • The obviously visible Muslims who have been integral to England’s recent rise
  • Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid: what wearing their faith on their sleeves has meant
  • The backlash Moeen got when he wore an armband in support of Palestine
  • The infamous ‘Tebbit Test’ that questioned people’s loyalty to their country
  • The complexities around fandom – and how it is hard to explain one’s support
  • How easy it is to fall in love with the game – and also fall out of love with it


Maatin (@maatin)

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan (@sidvee)


Buy The Summer Game by Gideon Haigh (recently republished by 81allout)

India (hardback) | India (paperback) | India (e-copy)

Australia (paperback, e-copy)

USA (hardback, paperback, e-copy)

UK (hardback, paperback, e-copy)

Canada (hardback, paperback, e-copy)



Lead image: Shah June

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