Read here as long time Guerilla listener, Lea Schnieder, gives us a quick refresher on the origins of German cricket and takes her camera to capture some action in Hanover.
Germany is, of course, not the leading cricket playing nation on the continent, but the game has a surprisingly long history in the country.
The first German cricket club was founded in 1858 in Berlin, by players from England and the United States. Apart from infrequent amateur tours to the Britain though, German cricket would continue in comparative anonymity until 1891, when the "Deutsche Fußball- und Cricket Bund (DfuCB)" was founded. The DfuCB was, as it turned out, one of the predecessors of the modern day "DFB", Germany football's governing body.
The DfuCB was dissolved in 1902 after the DFB had been founded in 1900, but a successor organisation to promote and govern cricket would not arrive for another 78 years. That's not say there was no cricket in the country. Far from it. The next notable episode in cricket's history in Germany was driven by Sussex, Hampshire and England captain and sports all-rounder C.B Fry. Whilst his motivation has been rightly questioned historically (he was summoned by Hitler to forge greater links between the British Boy Scouts and the Hitler Youth Movement) his endeavours did include an unsuccessful attempt to persuade the Nazi minister of foreign affairs, Joachim von Ribbentrop, to pursue Test Cricket status for Germany.
After the war the only notable cricket of any kind to be played in Germany was by British soldiers stationed in the then Federal Republic as part of the British Army Of The Rhine.
And so it was not until the 1980s that a German Cricket resurgence began, when the game started to get a foothold in German universities, brought back by students from the commonwealth. This, in turn, let to the formation of the "Deutscher Cricket Bund" in 1988. Play continued on an amateur level, mostly driven by immigrants and expats, and for the most part, was sadly still ignored by the general public.
It was with the beginning of the refugee crisis around 2015, however, that cricket as a cultural force for good and a means of promoting integration started to receive greater attention. National broadcasters featured cricket reports and Imran Khan's election in Pakistan was of course a topic on primetime news (where they showed clips of Wasim Akram, though), and even Cameron Bancroft, David Warner and Steve Smith made the news.
Prior to the 2019 Cricket World Cup, German football icon Thomas Muller, bedecked in an Indian jersey and wielding a cricket bat, posted a tweet wishing Virat Kohli good luck. There may be no penalties in cricket, but the attention of the winter game ahead of a World Cup served to raise interest in the tournament.
So, while cricket is largely, still dominated by immigrants, refugees and expats, the awareness of the general public has certainly increased and the DCB was determined to use this momentum by organising "Cricket Days" at the end of March, with encouragement and importantly, funding and promotion from the federal government. There is also a program that introduces cricket to German schools, supported by the ICC.
Today the DCB lists around 140 officially recognized clubs with some 350 teams.
Most of these teams are men's teams though, so to address this the DCB recently started a program to really develop the women's game in the long term. By providing special workshops for girls all over the country they seek to give them an opportunity to get a foot in the door and connection to women's teams in which they can play.
The DCB graciously invited me to one such workshop when the "Hannover Stallions CC", supported by the German board, held women's and girl's training sessions to develop talent local women's talent. The workshop was held at Stallion's home ground next to the historic "Herrenhäuser Gärten", where I was able to photographically capture talent on display as the "Deutscher Cricket Bund" sent Sharu and Michael as trainers to assist Suraj, Gaurav and Prashanth from Stallions CC.
Huge thanks go out to the DCB and Hannover Stallions CC for making this day possible and if you ever are in Hannover, check out Stallions CC Am Großen Garten 3.