Germany ready for stiff test despite odds

Fri, Oct 29, 2010 10:25 AM

Germany ready for stiff test despite odds
Germany's captain Asif Khan is banking on a mix of experience and youth to serve the side well at the upcoming Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 8 tournament to be held from 6-12 November in Kuwait.

"The team has players from their early twenties to late thirties. We are banking on this mix to get us through. Overall we have players who have played for Germany for a number of years. Plus there is a new player in the squad, Dilshan Rajuddin who will be making his debut for Germany," said Khan.

The optimism of Khan is despite the various difficulties the side faces in getting together and preparing for a major tournament like Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 8.

The team has not trained together since a two-day camp in the first week of October when team coach Harold Rhodes (from UK) was in charge. The team will now travel together to Kuwait on 3 November and look to play warm-up games to prepare for the stiffer contests.

As a team, Germany last played in the Division Two European Championship in Guernsey in July. Germany last featured in a world event at the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 5 in Jersey in 2008.

"Germany is a big country and to get everybody together in one place is very difficult and expensive. Most of the players are distributed across the country. There are about eight of us in the NRW province, four in Berlin, so we try and use our clubs for practice," informed Khan.

Yet that does not mean that the players are certain to get practice at all times.

"We play for our clubs in the weekend in our respective regions in summers (May-September). But it rains a lot in summers at times. It is also difficult to find a ground because it could also be used for football or for kids' events. In winters it is usually difficult to find an indoor training facility," revealed Khan.

The Deutschen Cricket Bund (DCB) usually organises one camp before a major tournament.

"Before a big tournament DCB gets all of us at a training camp on a Friday evening. We usually play a game on a Saturday from 9 am to 6 pm against a local team and then on a Sunday train from 9 am to 4 pm."

But even that is a difficult task at times because a number of players work in restaurants and hotels. "Weekends are a time for big business at restaurants and hotels. We somehow manage, as they fly in for a day and then go back after training."

Then there are other practical problems like there are players who drive taxis for a living. "A lot of our players do a number of odd jobs. One of our players, Shakeel Ahmed plays or trains during the day and is driving a taxi all night long. It is a great task to have proper coordination and play together at a tournament," said Khan, himself a software engineer.

The players are on their own building up for the upcoming tournament in Kuwait. "I know of players training at a gymnasium. There are a couple of them who were in England and Sri Lanka honing their skills."

With most of the players working in varied sectors, Khan explained that it gets difficult to get holidays to play in major tournaments. "A tournament usually takes up 10 working days. When we played the Division Two European Championship (in Guernsey), we played for seven days but reached three days in advance and came back a day later. Not all of our players get holidays. Some even have to go without pay if they extend their stay at a tournament," added Khan.

The man tasked with getting the entire squad together is team manager Benjamin Das, who is himself a hotel manager. Das explained that he exhausted his annual leave in Guernsey earlier this year and will use up the remaining days at Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 8 in Kuwait.

"This (Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 8 in Kuwait) is our big chance to spread the game to Germans. If we do well we can attract some attention from sponsors and hopefully some more locals will take up cricket," hoped Das.

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