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The most relaxed and elegant sport in the world

The most relaxed and elegant sport in the world

A national treasure in the Commonwealth, virtually unknown in Germany: For immigrants, cricket is a piece of home away from home and serves to promote international understanding. A visit to the field in Berlin.

"Calm down!" he calls over and over again across the lawn. "It's hot, so don't run like crazy." Not exactly words you'd expect from a captain at an athletic competition. But this is cricket, perhaps the most relaxed team sport in the world. In spite of this, especially popular cricket betting apps 2022 are now.

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Saturday noon on the Maifeld near Berlin's Olympic Stadium. The air is shimmering, the sun is high above the pitch, but the atmosphere is brilliant. Since morning, the players of the "Berlin Cricket Club" (BCC) and the "Sports and Social Club zu Berlin und Brandenburg" (DSSC) have been facing each other.

That means: The eleven players of one team play, from the other always two players are on the field, the batsmen. They fend off the small red ball thrown by a player on the opposite side after a short run-up with arm-length wooden bats and then try to swap positions while running before the other team can catch the ball again. They get points for this, much like in baseball. The ball can travel at speeds of up to 160 km/h, a hard thing the size of a billiard ball that will be broken by the end of a game at the latest.

Much played worldwide, almost unknown in this country

After soccer, cricket is the most played sport in the world. It has been played in Germany since around 1870, but the sport is still largely unknown in this country. Its beginnings go back to England in the early 16th century, the sport of the landed gentry spread with the expansion of the Empire in the Commonwealth countries. Once only, in 1900, cricket was Olympic.

At the Games in Paris, Great Britain won, so to this day it remains the undisputed Olympic champion. Cricket is the national sport in England, India, and Pakistan, and is also played in Australia, South Africa, the West Indies, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, and Bangladesh.

The Berlin players are almost all immigrants. One is German, a few British, but most are Pakistani, Indian, and Bangladeshi. For them, the game is a piece of home. "I meet my friends here," says Farid Shah. "And unlike at work and at home, I can speak my native language." The 36-year-old came to Germany from Pakistan ten years ago to study, and today he works for an IT company. "The beauty of cricket is that it doesn't have to be fast."

More elegant than soccer

That's true, though. Matches between professional teams last three to four days, with tea and lunch, which breaks an integral part. In television broadcasts, the commentators sometimes talk for minutes on end about extraneous topics - there would be no other way to fill the abundant broadcasting time.

In Germany, only the comparatively hectic short version, introduced in the 1960s against resistance from traditionalists, is played. It lasts seven or eight hours. "That alone doesn't fit the German mentality," says Farid Shah, explaining the sport's low penetration in this country. "People are used to playing two hours of soccer and drinking two hours of beer." At cricket, homemade lemonade is served, or Pimm's, a cocktail with liqueur, ginger ale, strawberries, and mint. It's just all a bit more elegant.

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"Where batsmen are gentlemen," is the handsome motto of the German Cricket Club. "It's not a contact sport, but one with a lot of spirit," explains Ashwin Prakash, captain of the BCC team. It is considered unsportsmanlike to challenge or argue with the decision of either umpire. This gentility has found its way into the English language, "It's just not cricket," for example, meaning "It's not fair."

Familiarity in a foreign land

Prakash, 28, came to Germany from Bangalore, India, also to study. In Berlin, the mechanical engineer made friends through the game. For some of his teammates, cricket plays a much bigger role than just a social one; it gives them a sense of stability in a foreign land. For example, the Afghan who plays for the BCC but is absent today.

Like some others from the team, he found a job in the restaurant of a club colleague and also got his visa through it. "For him, cricket is the most important thing," says Prakash. The clubs - there are five in Berlin alone, about 100 across Germany - have seen an influx of Afghan asylum seekers in recent years.

It's well past 3 p.m. when the first half of the game is over. For lunch, they have spinach with chicken and pita bread. By the time the break is over, the footballers who had been playing next door have long since gone home, as have the soccer players. The cricket players go into the second round.

Cricket game as international understanding

The BCC is trailing, the opposing team cannot be caught up, and motivation is low. While the shadows lengthen, swallows chase across the lawn and the scent of men's sweat drifts across the field, the eight inactive players of the batting team sit on the sidelines under a parasol, note the score on the so-called scorecard, shout praise to their teammates and talk with laughter - about cricket, what else.

Either in that typical English that always sounds as if they have pebbles in their mouths, in Hindi, or the very similar Urdu, the official language of Pakistan. India and Pakistan have been enemies since 1947, but the fact that members of both nations play together and are even friends can be seen as an achievement in terms of international understanding.

In Berlin, the clubs have a hard time, constantly having to fight for their training ground. "Once, the wicket was simply removed," Ashwin Prakash recounts, pointing to the long, specially prepared piece of grass in the center of the oval pitch. "We were stressing in the press, saying that someone was taking away the migrants' favorite game."

Little support for a migrant sport

That helped. But when the Champions League final is played at the Olympic Stadium next year, the cricket players won't be allowed to practice. Instead, they now have a place in Havel, 70 kilometers outside Berlin. "This is more than we could ask for," Prakash says.

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The last hour of the game is contested by 17-year-old Janpreet Singh as a batsman. After high school, he wants to study physics or math. He has been playing cricket since he was six years old, starting with his brother on the veranda of his family's house in a village in Punjab in northern India.

He scores a full 100 points for his team that day - out of a total of 237, reported As he walks off the field, his team stands up in unison and applauds. Janpreet's dream is to one day play for the German national team.