Shall we play cricket with soccer shoes on?

: New sports trend: cricket is booming in Germany

It's shameful, but I confess: I didn't know Virat Kohli. The 30-year-old is a star. A superstar. 36 million people, and thus more than any footballer in the German national team, follow the Indian on Instagram. As a batsman for the Indian national cricket team, he has become a multimillionaire. For his compatriots he is a folk hero. But I didn't know the Cristiano Ronaldo des cricket before. Kohli is currently contesting the World Cup in England and Wales with the Indian selection. With television ratings of up to one billion per game, it is one of the largest sports tournaments in the world.

A religion in India

The Berlin cricket club BSV 1892 Britannia is also in World Cup fever on this day. One of them - Rohit Singh - was even invited by the world association to be a spectator. The 23-year-old is a member of the German national team, which, however, did not qualify for the tournament. "From absolute beginners to national players, everyone is very welcome at our club," says Sunil Gowda, 43, the second chairman of the BSV 1892. Club members Ankur, 29, and Darshak, 25, are also from India. The two exchange students - closer Full beard, bushy hair on the head - grin when they meet me on the Maifeld for self-experiment. You know: So this is this reporter, who will practice their national sport today - and who will certainly do it quite stiffly. "You will have a lot of fun, I'm sure," says Ankur.

For the first time ever, I'll be playing cricket. Perhaps the most popular sport in the world, but hardly anyone in this country knows it. The enthusiasm for cricket can easily be divided geographically: here Great Britain with its former colonies and overseas territories, there the head-shaking rest of the world. England, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan are among the best nations.

Shortly afterwards I am standing there in full gear: pads that protect legs and thighs, breastplate, gloves, helmet, and - very importantly - a jockstrap to protect the gentleman’s region.

I can try my hand at being a batsman. So I'll do what Virat Kohli, the most famous of this sport, does every day. My goal: to bring the 160 gram leather ball thrown by a bowler about twelve meters away back into the field with a wooden club, in the best case so that it is not caught by a player on the opposing team. The wooden clubs, the bats, are heavier than expected. You weigh a little over a kilo and get pretty perky over time. So without training, cricket is not that easy to practice.

"Cricket is a gentlemen's sport"

I feel a little strange in the equipment. Ankur laughs. "It looks good." He quickly prepares the club. He taps the material soft with a mallet. “This makes the wood warm and less brittle,” he explains. Then it can go. “Not so tight! Throw it slowly, ”calls out Mark Jameson, 38, the chairman of the BSV cricket division to his boys. The balls fly towards the batsman in professional games at speeds of up to 160 km / h. On this day they will only reach 60 to 70 kilometers per hour, but still incredibly fast for me as a beginner. Sam from Bangladesh is the first thrower. The 30-year-old faces me in one-on-one. He looks focused, starts running and after five paces he throws the ball overhead, the typical throwing position, at me. Boom! I couldn't react that quickly. The leather flies past me - and fully into the wicket, a construction made up of three rods, on which in turn two small cross rods lie loosely. "You'd be out of there," says Mark.

As a young boy, the Northern Englishman “practically grew up with a cricket bat”. He started out in Yorkshire when he was ten or eleven. He doesn't remember exactly anymore. What he likes about the batting sport: “Cricket is a gentlemen's sport,” he says, “we attach great importance to respect, manners and fairness.” Pissing at the referee? Unthinkable in cricket. That would result in a hefty penalty and would also lead to the ostracism of the other players.

The cricket department of the BSV has 48 members - including 40 active members. The sport is multicultural. Britannia players come from South Africa, Australia, Sri Lanka, England, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh. “Our sport connects people. He is very diverse and lives from diversity, ”says Sunil. 20 years ago, the second chairman of the Berlin club met Isabell from Kreuzberg, his current wife, in his native India. He says: "For us Indians, cricket is like a religion."

First hit after many attempts

In Germany, which is in 43rd place in the world, it is far from that far. Nevertheless, cricket is experiencing a real boom in the wake of the wave of refugees. Above all, immigrant Afghans find a piece of home in the sport. "We have felt enormous growth since the refugee crisis," says Sunil. At times there were three to four new registrations per day across Germany. Eight years ago there were 70 teams in the German Cricket Association. Today there are well over 300.

The punch sport is much more intense than it looks at first glance. It takes strength, coordination and a lot of skill to really hit the ball as a batsman. With the eighth or ninth litter I finally succeed. It doesn't look elegant, like the others, but at least I hit it. The teammates smile a bit about my attitude. I would hop slightly instead of keeping both feet on the ground. Maybe it's because I have some respect for the tiny ball that could bruise my body. In addition to the highest athletic demands, cricket also requires hours of concentration. A game can last seven, eight, nine hours. There are lunch and tea breaks.

Again and again Mark's gaze goes up to the sky. The weather gods have to play along. Otherwise cricket has a problem. Rain is not good for the thugs. Then the gray cloud cover breaks up over the Maifeld, it winds and rains as if from one piece. After about 30 minutes we have to stop the session. My teammates don't mind. They take it calmly and look forward to the next meeting.

history

The origin of the "Kreckett" lies in England and goes back to the 16th century. With the increasing colonization of the British Empire, cricket also came overseas. It found distribution in the Caribbean and India, later in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. As early as 1744, the general rules were first recorded under the title "Laws of Cricket".

In Germany cricket has been played in an organized manner since 1888. In 1937 there were 50 clubs. During the Nazi era, however, the sport was banned because it was not "German" enough. It was not until the British occupiers and exchange students from the Commonwealth of Nations brought the sport back to this country.
Today there are well over 300 clubs in Germany.

regulate

Two teams of eleven players each compete against each other. A game is divided into two innings, which together often last more than six hours. The playing field is about twice the size of a soccer field. There is an oval field in the center of which is the 20 meter long and 3 meter wide pitch. At the end there is a wicket, a construction made up of three bars on which two small cross bars rest.

In between the bowler and batsman duel. The goal of the thrower is to hit the wicket with the ball, while the batsman tries to hit the leather as far as possible. The batsman has to cross the line on the other side as often as possible (run). Meanwhile, the field team tries to regain the ball quickly.

equipment

A few pieces of equipment are required to play cricket, but they can be obtained relatively quickly. First and foremost, you need a helmet that protects your head and face from balls that can go up to 160 km / h. This is available from 50 euros. For a good club made of willow wood you should lay down between 80 and 150 euros. Protection for the genital area (from 8 euros) and pads for the thighs (from 6 euros) and legs (from 25 euros) must also be purchased.

Good gloves are available from 25 euros. Most cricketers wear cleats, much like multi-studs in soccer. If you don't have soccer shoes, you can expect new cricket shoes for around 90 euros. For around 300 euros, you could get a decent starter kit.