The German cricket boom

The German cricket boom

For decades, cricket in Germany eked out a shadowy existence. Now, however, the sport is on a steep upward trend. There are many reasons for this - but only a few are the Germans.

When spring sends the first warm rays of sunshine to Germany in these weeks, walkers regularly stop at the edge of the sports grounds of Frankfurt's Goethe University. This is when the Frankfurt Cricket Club plays its home games or training sessions there. The onlookers watch with interest as some of the best players in Germany throw and hit the hard cricket balls around each other's ears with unorthodox movements - and quite a few probably think of baseball in some way.

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Brian Mantle doesn't like to hear that at all. "It's a shame that most people associate cricket with baseball. It should be the other way around," says the managing director of the German Cricket Association (DCB) and begins to rave about his sport. Cricket, he says, is "an elegant game with manners," in addition to being one of the oldest team sports in the world and - in terms of spectator numbers - also one of the most popular. "Our sport has incredible tradition, the Americans and their baseball can't compete with that," says Mantle, who comes from England and has lived in Germany for twenty years. On the outcome of events, the cricket betting sites in Indian rupees began to take bets.

National cultural asset and mass event

But while cricket is a national treasure, especially in Great Britain and Commonwealth countries such as Australia, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and international matches have become a mass event, the sport has lived in the shadows here for decades. The games, which often last for hours or even days - the core of which is precisely those duels in which the batsman tries to get the pitcher's ball into the huge field of play with his flat bat so far that he has enough time to score a point - were never anything to write home about in Germany.

That has changed in the past five years. While cricket is still far from being a mass-market sport in this country, the number of clubs across the country has grown from 70 in 2012 to nearly 300 now. Membership in the DCB has also doubled to more than 6000.

Last year, numerous media outlets reported that cricket's success was directly linked to the large number of refugees who have come to Germany from Afghanistan or Pakistan. Clubs in Schleswig-Holstein and Bautzen in Saxony, which were founded by young asylum seekers and one of which was even interviewed by the British news channel BBC, were seen as prime examples. Indeed, in cricket, too, many clubs benefit from those refugees who want to start a new life in Germany and for whom involvement in a sports club is part of the process. According to Brian Mantle, however, they are still in the minority.

For him, the cricket boom is primarily linked to the ongoing economic success of the Federal Republic and the progress of digitalization. "In recent years, more and more students or young graduates from India, Pakistan or Australia have joined our clubs. They want to make a career here while not giving up their national sport," he says.

But the boom also brings challenges: Leagues had to be created and organized, and sports fields that are at least close to the official dimensions of a cricket field are desperately sought. In addition, many young players do not have the money for adequate equipment or to pay for travel to away games. The media attention that could persuade wealthy sponsors to become involved is also very limited. And because the DCB still has fewer than 10,000 members, the association does not receive any funding from the German Olympic Sports Confederation. "As nice as the numerical development is, we simply still lack too many resources to permanently guarantee the professional organization of the clubs and games," says Mantle.

However, he does not see this as a reason to quarrel. Together with his association, he wants to use the coming year to make cricket more attractive to the general public. Since January, the DCB has been using a new website to promote its national team, which will play for promotion to the World League in the summer, and the matches of the Bundesliga season, which starts at the beginning of April - live broadcasts and summaries of which will be available on the specially created "German Cricket TV" channel. In addition, the DCB is expecting Marylebone Cricket Club, the oldest and probably most famous club in the world, to play two guest games against the national team in Frankfurt at the end of May, reported No spectator should feel reminded of baseball there.