Sunday, 9 November 2014

The Wall

Fantasy Bob is reminded that it is 25 years since the Wall came down.

Celebrations at the founding of the German Cricket Federation

On 9 November 1989, after several weeks of civil unrest, the East German government announced that all GDR citizens could visit West Germany and West Berlin. While this lead to great celebrations and euphoria with souvenir hunters chipping away at the Wall's structure, the wall's actual demolition did not begin until Summer 1990 and was not completed until 1992.  German reunification, was formally concluded on 3 October 1990.

A fact of equal, indeed possibly greater, significance but which is frequently overlooked by historians of those stirring times, is that the German Cricket Federation was officially founded in 1989.

It was not that cricket was unknown in Germany - East or West - prior to that date. Berlin CC existed in the mid 19th Century and the first governing body was formed in 1912 (separating from the pre-existing German Football and Cricket Federation).  Touring teams visited regularly, including a team from Edinburgh in 1900 (FB has had to assure sceptical junior members playing alongside him at Carlton's All Star Fourth XI that he was not a member of that tour).

 Dan Waddell
will speak at the 
Cricket Society of Scotland 
 Glasgow and Edinburgh
 12 and 13 January 2015
However the middle of the 20th Century did not see the game prosper - Adolf Hitler is not regarded as a supporter of the game (he is said to have considered a game in which players used leg pads effeminate).
Nevertheless there were efforts by some devotees to develop the game.


Earlier this year FB enjoyed Field of Shadows by Dan Waddell  a charming account of a 1937 tour to Berlin by a nomadic English team - the Gentlemen of Worcestershire.   Amongst other detail the book records how the team found itself having to give the Nazi salute prior to its first match, and the propensity of the home skipper for punching his players when they dropped catches. There was also some speculation that a British spy was added to the touring party by the Foreign Office.

Local media coverage
Whatever the tour's objectives, it did not succeed in averting the slide to conflict.  But hope springs eternal and the book finishes with a wistful account of the Berlin players in 1945 shyly approaching the British occupying authorities, bat and ball in hand, looking for players to join them.

More recent  and happier times have seen cricket in Germany prosper although like many countries it is dominated by ex pat arrivals to the country rather than home grown players. It is working hard to improve and is currently ranked 37th participating in ICC Europe Division 2 and World Cricket League 7. Scotland's own Steve Knox was coach to the national side in 2014 - FB has not heard whether he has found his skipper punching his players is still an issue.

The Wall - 13288 Test runs @ 52.31; 36 Centuries
Cricketers may have joined the celebrations at the demise of the Berlin Wall and its sure path to Steve Knox's appointment. But they would only have been saddened by the more recent demise of an equally famous Wall.

Rahul Dravid made his first class debut in 1990 and played his final match in January 2012. He was given the name the Wall as part of an advertising campaign by Reebok in 1997, which was near the start of his glittering Test career.  The same campaign also coined The Assasin for Azhar and The Viper for Kumble, but only Dravid's nickname stuck as his technical excellence and powers of concentration saw him become the essential base to the Indian batting line.  His record is incomparable.  He really was the Wall.

Dravid also played for Scotland in 2003 - and one of his fellow batsmen, studying the Wall from the other end, was Steve Knox.  

Berlin - Walls - Cricket - it's all connected.


  1. FB may remember the 1990 concert in Berlin, organised by Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, to celebrate the demise of the wall. This monumental event featured almost everybody who was famous in the music world at the time (although sadly not FB) and I feel sure that a number of cricketers must have been involved, including Waters himself who was a keen player of the game at school. The Wall remains a seminal work of the 20th Century and my favourite Pink Floyd album. Others consider The Dark Side of The Moon to be superior but the condition of the light would probably preclude play in such a venue.

    1. FB was never big on Pink Floyd so bows to your superior knowledge - but the lunatics are on the grass is surely a depiction of Scottish cricketers at the frozen start of the season.