Germany head to Guernsey in search of unlikely cricket glory this week – and ruing the fact that two of their biggest stars won’t be able to join them in the Channel Islands.
Currently the fastest growing cricket nation on earth, primarily as a result of the influx of refugees into the country in the past five years, Germany have been actively recruiting players from across Europe to fuel their ambitions of challenging the likes of the Netherlands and Scotland in the not too distant future.
That included German-born Ollie Rayner, who last week joined Kent on loan from Middlesex, Glamorgan’s Craig Meschede and Dieter Klein of Leicestershire, both of whom have German passports.
There were also rumours that Durham’s Michael Richardson could receive a call-up as a result of his mother hailing from the country.
Unfortunately for Brian Mantle, the English chief executive of the German Cricket Federation, only Meschede is making the trip for the ICC’s T20 World Cup qualifier, which begins in Guernsey tomorrow.
“We’ve had two of those three pulling out,” says Mantle. “We’re going with Craig Meschede from Glamorgan, who is a top all-rounder in Twenty20 cricket. When we picked Ollie Rayner a month ago, he wasn’t playing for Middlesex. It was the same with Dieter Klein. He has been called into the Leicestershire side and has done really well, so he’s now unavailable too.
“It is frustrating because these guys could have turned us from underdogs to an outside bet for the title. If we make it through we’ll be playing in the full global qualifier, which will include some of the big boys. I think Zimbabwe will be there, and Ireland too.
“The standard in Europe is getting better but we’ve got a chance, perhaps an outsiders’ chance.
“We’ve still got a pretty good side. On the bowling front, we’ll have Meschede opening from one end and we’ll have Izathullah Dawlatzai at the other, who has played in a T20 World Cup for Afghanistan and took the wickets of Jos Buttler and Eoin Morgan when they played England in 2012. It’s a strong attack.”
For Germany to even be in with a sniff is an extraordinary achievement given their lowly position a decade ago.
Now, though, they are competing on an almost equal footing with far more established cricket nations and, according to Mantle, the sport is only going in one direction.
“The growth hasn’t been as dramatic as it was two or three years ago, when all the refugees first arrived, but we’re probably up another 15 or 20 per cent this year, which is probably the fifth year of growth at that rate,” he says.
“We’re also seeing a similar growth in the women’s game too, which is another of our priorities.
“They’re playing a week later in their first tournament in La Manga against Scotland and the Netherlands.
“Everything is happening pretty fast.”
RICHARD EDWARDS / Photo: Getty Images