Cricket

Germany aim for Cricket World Cup glory

Germany aim for Cricket World Cup glory

With a grandfather who played top class cricket and a father who had a brilliant career in South Africa, it might be easy to think that Michael Richardson was always destined for international cricket.

The route he took to get there, however, was circuitous – and via the other side of the family line.

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Now 35 and two-and-a-half years out of England’s first-class game, Richardson will play for Germany in Muscat this week.

Germany are one of eight teams chasing two places at the T20 World Cup later this year via the qualifying competition in Oman.

A team of roofers, chefs, students, computer programmers and – in Richardson’s case – unemployed former professionals will be in the same group as Test nation Ireland, as well as the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

For Richardson, it’s a chance to honor the memory of his mother’s father, Helmut Gruttner, a German who emigrated to South Africa in his late teens.

T20 WORLD CUP QUALIFICATIONS

Qualifier A, Muscat

(All matches will be broadcast live on icc.tv)

Fixtures

Friday, February 18: 10:00 a.m. Oman v Nepal, Canada v Philippines; 2:00 p.m. Ireland v United Arab Emirates, Germany v Bahrain

Saturday February 19: 10:00 a.m. Oman v Canada, Nepal v Philippines; 2 p.m. United Arab Emirates v Germany, Ireland v Bahrain

Monday, February 21: 10:00 a.m. Ireland v Germany, United Arab Emirates v Bahrain; 2:00 p.m. Nepal v Canada, Oman v Philippines

Tuesday, February 22: 2 p.m. Semi-finals

Thursday, February 24: 2 p.m. Final

UAE team:Ahmed Raza (captain), Muhammad Waseem, Chirag Suri, Vriitya Aravind, Rohan Mustafa, Kashif Daud, Zahoor Khan, Alishan Sharafu, Raja Akifullah, Karthik Meiyappan, Junaid Siddique, Basil Hameed, Zafar Farid, Mohammed Boota, Mohammed Usman, Rahul Bhatia

Richardson was first approached to play for his grandfather’s nation in 2019, when he was still part of the same county as Mark Wood and Ben Stokes.

“I was originally asked to play but couldn’t because of Durham commitments,” Richardson said of being contacted to join an inexperienced but enterprising national team that was looking for qualified players in Germany.

“I was only able to get into this tournament because three players broke their fingers. They were short and phoned again realizing I wasn’t playing for Durham. I said, ‘Yeah, that would be amazing .’

“My grandfather was German and moved to South Africa when he was 18. It was sad because he passed away just before I could play in this tournament.

“He was so patriotic. The timing was terrible, but it was still good for me to be able to represent Germany just because of that.

With a son-in-law – Dave Richardson – who played 42 Tests for South Africa and later became the ICC’s chief executive, it would be a push to suggest Gruttner was unaware of cricket. Football, however, has always remained his favorite sport.

“He loved football and he used to come and watch us play cricket, but he didn’t know anything about it,” Richardson said.

“In a way, it was so nice, because he thought everything was great. If you caught a ball with your back to a fast pitcher, he’d be like, ‘Oh wow, look how fast it was going. He wouldn’t mind if I let 28 byes pass in the day.

After a decade as a professional in the UK, Richardson recognized that the intricacies of competition structure below the elite level of international cricket were alien to him once he moved to Germany.

He discovered the hard way. His new side missed a trip to the United Arab Emirates to take part in the 2019 T20 World Cup qualifiers after their net rate in their European qualifiers was 0.053 lower than group winners Jersey.

“I walked in relatively blindly,” Richardson said. “I was so naive to the associated cricket and the fact that literally every ball counts.

“All of these tournaments come down to net run rate. We broke [Jersey] in the last game, but because we had lost to Italy earlier in the tournament and were second overall, we didn’t go to Dubai. The guys were gutted.

They have reached that level this time around. Now three wins in Muscat could be enough to take them to the biggest stage of all, to play at the World Cup in Australia later this year.

Richardson, who himself is in the process of moving from the UK to Zurich, stresses that the odds are stacked against him. There is not a single full-time pro in the Germany team.

Richardson himself hadn’t met all the team members before they arrived in Muscat, given that their budget allows them to train together sparingly, while team meetings are usually limited to Zoom.

A group of players who formed a sponsorship committee, however, managed to source their equipment for the tournament from a kit supplier associated with Adidas.

And Richardson says the team has no shortage of natural talent – ​​thanks in large part to the massive influx of refugees into Germany over the past decade.

“I had such a naive and embarrassing view of refugees,” he said.

“These guys all speak more languages ​​than I do. They graft. And they’re all desperate to play cricket. We have incredible talent, especially our Afghani players, even though it’s so raw.

“We have South African players. We never know. There are fears that the gap is too big between professional and amateur – but I could never say that we don’t have the opportunity to do that. If things line up, anything can happen.

“We have a chance and it may sound corny, but we are playing for something a little bigger than us.”

Updated: February 17, 2022, 04:08

T20 WORLD CUP QUALIFICATIONS

Qualifier A, Muscat

(All matches will be broadcast live on icc.tv)

Fixtures

Friday, February 18: 10:00 a.m. Oman v Nepal, Canada v Philippines; 2:00 p.m. Ireland v United Arab Emirates, Germany v Bahrain

Saturday February 19: 10:00 a.m. Oman v Canada, Nepal v Philippines; 2 p.m. United Arab Emirates v Germany, Ireland v Bahrain

Monday, February 21: 10:00 a.m. Ireland v Germany, United Arab Emirates v Bahrain; 2:00 p.m. Nepal v Canada, Oman v Philippines

Tuesday, February 22: 2 p.m. Semi-finals

Thursday, February 24: 2 p.m. Final

UAE team:Ahmed Raza (captain), Muhammad Waseem, Chirag Suri, Vriitya Aravind, Rohan Mustafa, Kashif Daud, Zahoor Khan, Alishan Sharafu, Raja Akifullah, Karthik Meiyappan, Junaid Siddique, Basil Hameed, Zafar Farid, Mohammed Boota, Mohammed Usman, Rahul Bhatia