Ger­many are play­ing again as do­mes­tic game here still waits

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Tim Wig­more

While club play­ers wait to re­sume in Eng­land, their Ger­man coun­ter­parts have been back play­ing league matches for four weeks.

The game can now be played in 14 of Ger­many’s 16 states. Ini­tially, matches were played by teams of eight. Games are now 11 a side, but in only Twenty20 for­mats. Leagues have been lo­calised.

Play­ers do not have to find any al­ter­na­tive to the nor­mal cricket ball, with Ger­man vi­rol­o­gists not shar­ing Boris John­son’s fears that it could be a “nat­u­ral vec­tor of dis­ease”. “Our ex­perts say that the chance of the virus be­ing trans­mit­ted like that is next to noth­ing,” said Brian Man­tle, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Ger­man Cricket Fed­er­a­tion. “Cricket has been clas­si­fied in Ger­many as a non-con­tact sport so we’re al­lowed to play. If ever a sport was de­signed for so­cial dis­tanc­ing, it was cricket.”

Still, Ger­man cricket has needed to adapt. The big­gest change, per­haps, is in the use of hel­mets, which are com­monly shared. Hel­met grilles now have to be dis­in­fected be­fore be­ing passed to an­other player. Show­ers and the use of bars or pavil­ions at grounds have also been barred, while um­pires dis­in­fect the ball at the end of ev­ery over.

Cel­e­bra­tions have been dif­fer­ent, too. “There’s no high-fives, no hugs when a wicket falls,” Man­tle said. “They cel­e­brate with el­bow bumps or pre­tend­ing to do high-fives.”

Pro­ceed­ing with much of their do­mes­tic sum­mer pro­gramme has helped Ger­man cricket at a fas­ci­nat­ing junc­ture in its de­vel­op­ment. Thanks largely to an in­flux of Afghan refugees, the num­ber of clubs had risen from 70 to 370 in six years. Women’s cricket is ris­ing too, with the women’s world rank­ing of 27 slightly higher than the men’s of 33.

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