Club Cricket Conference

Friday, 20th September 2019

MCC visit underpins German cricket boom

By Charles Randall

8 June 2017

The recent MCC visit to Frankfurt turned attention to the rise of cricket in Germany through the surge of immigration, with the number of registered players now well beyond the 5,000 mark.

From eight clubs and a couple of hundred players in 1988 - due mainly to British presence - the 2017 season began with 118 clubs, fielding more than 300 teams. The German Cricket Federation, based at Passau on the Austrian border, apparently has been receiving up to 30 inquiries a week about new clubs. The chief executive Brian Mantle is the only paid employee, so set-ups are limited by a shortage of funds and resources.

For UK cricket clubs considering somewhere unusual to visit, Germany would certainly be worth a try. Munich and Hamburg have become the most popular destinations, but Berlin and Frankfurt are other strong centres. The standard of play is mostly good, and the facilities usually crude. Roughly a third of players have Afghan ethnicity, but there are other ex-pats, and youth coaching includes Germans, male and female.

Mantle, an Englishman whose main club used to be Quayside CC in Shropshire, finds himself in the middle of an extraordinary phase of cricket history. "The future of German cricket is incredibly bright," he said. "The increase of participants shows no signs of stopping, and many of the recently arrived cricketers from cricket-playing nations will begin to qualify in the next few years for the national team. We hope to blend this with our own development concepts to build up a successful national team playing at a high level of associate cricket."

The MCC visit, their first since 2008, added further credibility to a sport underfunded by the German government, who must surely be aware of the benefit of  'integration tournaments' run by the cricket federation.

The rise in standards has tempted more resident ex-pat cricketers to involve themselves. For example Daniel Weston, a former Australia Under-19 player, keeps wicket for Germany after arriving on a world tour from Western Australia. "I got to Munich," he relates, "ended up staying, made friends and played as a hobby. Then the cricket scene here got a lot more disciplined, with fitness training, testing and a new coach. That is when I put my hand up."

Weston, 34, started German Cricket TV, posting short videos on social media, and can claim more than 750,000 followers on Facebook. The best cricketers in Germany are still undiscovered, he says.

The MCC lost two T20 matches, though they defeated Germany in a 50 overs match in Frankfurt by 76 runs, with the captain Will Vanderspar hitting 83, Niall O'Brien, the Ireland international, 96 and Nick Anderson 57 in a total of 323. Dan Pascoe, a left-arm spinner from Hong Kong, took five wickets as their opponents slid to 247 all out.

Victory on a very hot afternoon arrived only after the veteran Brandon Ess had blasted 85 off 84 balls. Ess, 45, had to be taken to hospital with dehydration after his innings and he missed the second match the following day, which was eventually rained off.

Among five T20 matches in three days the MCC lost to Germany Under-19, who scored 20 off the final over thanks to A-S Rahimzei's three sixes off Pascoe. The national champions SG Findorff  bowled MCC out for 106 and secured a hard-fought win.

The MCC donated cricket kit before they departed in line with earlier gifts dispatched by the Lord's Taverners to the German Cricket Federation.

A supporter Archie Wheen was impressed with what he saw during the week. "Though there may be a lack of tactical awareness and technique at times," he noted in an MCC blog, "the nation is clearly rife with players who possess raw talent."

The former Afghanistan bowler Izatullah Dawlatzai, now resident in Hamburg, was invited to play as a guest for the MCC, hoping to make his case for Gemany selection when eligible for citizenship.
Germany are attempting to reach the world T20 ladder by qualifying as champions of the Europe Division One tournament in Holland, starting on Sunday 11 June against  Austria, Belgium, France, Norway and Sweden. The winners step into the ICC World Cricket League Division Five alongside Jersey, Guernsey, Italy, Vanuatu, Ghana, Cayman Islands and Qatar for their September tournament at Benoni, South Africa.

Germany's strength can be gauged by the 2016 European Division Two 20-over tournament in Sweden where they gained promotion undefeated ahead of Sweden. The event featured the first international, probably in any sport, between Gibraltar and Spain.  The other teams were the Isle of Man and Israel.

MCC tour party

William Vanderspar (capt,  North Middlesex CC)
Nick Anderson (Didsbury CC and Cheshire)
Max Barson (Cranleigh CC)
Rahul Bhome (Fives & Heronians CC)
Chris Booth  (York CC)
Charlie Hopkins (Teddington CC)
Gareth James (Brentwood CC)
Niall O’Brien (Ireland)
Dan Pascoe (Kowloon CC, Hong Kong)
Jared Schmidt (Barnes CC)
Ben Shepperson (Mildenhall CC)
Ashly Sivarajah (Southgate CC, MCC Young Cricketers)
Izatullah Dawlatzai  (former Afghanistan)
Manager: Jim Love
Umpire: Howard Cohen

Germany's ironic pledge to bolster Afghanistan cricket

German Cricket Federation