If you were to place a bet on which country would be the leading cricketing nation in Europe in ten years’ time, it would be worth betting on Germany.

The game has seen huge growth in recent years, with the German Cricket Association (DCB) now comprising almost 150 clubs across its seven regions, and its five-year strategy, launched this week in German and English, makes it clear that it sees this as a platform for an ambitious expansion programme.

The document bases its thinking on four ‘DCB Values’: Integrity, Inclusivity, Excellence and Teamwork.

As in many other European countries, the strength of cricket in Germany relies heavily on immigrant communities, fuelled in recent years by the government’s positive approach to refugees and other migrants, and it is therefore significant that the first focus area of ​​the strategy is ‘integration into the German sporting landscape’.

The goals here are for four-fifths of the Federation’s member clubs to be affiliated to their local sports association and for the regions to be equally integrated in at least ten states, for the DCB to gain full membership of the German Olympic Committee and for qualifications for cricket coaches and officials to be recognised by the German sports administration.

This may seem a bit bureaucratic, but in a highly organised sporting environment like Germany’s, they are crucial to the full acceptance of the game as part of the sporting scene.

Such formal considerations, while important, constitute only a small part of the DCB’s strategy.

It also aims for major increases in player numbers across all aspects of the game: to have 15,000 people ‘regularly participating in cricket in Germany’, with active introductory competitions, social cricket and softball cricket and significant growth in the women’s game, which has been one of Germany’s success stories in recent years.

The strategy aims for 32 women’s teams by 2025, with a minimum of four teams in each region, additional female players in indoor cricket and softball, twelve girls’ hardball teams and groups of at least 50 active female coaches (25 of them at Level 2) and 50 active female umpires.

The growth of umpires, scorers and coaches is indeed one of the hallmarks of the plan, which envisages an annual increase of 10% across all three disciplines.

The long-term future of the game in Germany must involve strengthening youth cricket, and the DCB is aiming for an under-19 competition with at least four teams in each of its regions by 2025 and corresponding structures for at least one additional age group.

The strategy also envisages familiarisation programmes reaching 50,000 people per year, at least 20,000 of them children participating in the ICC Entry Level Programme.

At the other end of the pyramid, the ambition is for the national women’s and men’s teams to achieve T20I rankings of at least 15th and 20th respectively (they are currently 25th and 33rd), and for Germany to have men’s and women’s under-19 teams playing regular international matches and participating in ICC tournaments.

Notably, the focus is not just on T20: the strategy also envisages the men’s team participating in the ICC 50-over Challenge League or its equivalent; Germany were relegated from Division 5 of the World Cricket League before its dissolution, so a place in the top 32 nations in this format would represent real progress, as well as providing great opportunities for further development.

There is also a call for ‘performance pathways established for elite men, women and junior players offering them a minimum of 10 matches per season outside of international competition’.

This objective implicitly points to what is at once the great strength and the great challenge of the DCB’s position in administering an amateur sport: the fact that it is necessarily divided into several regional organizations.

The travel distances are, by European standards, considerable: it is 476 km by road from Hamburg to Dresden, 614 km from Düsseldorf to Munich and 724 km from Berlin to Saarbrücken.

Organisationally, too, the task of taking the necessary steps to achieve these national ambitions across seven regions will not be easily achieved.

But on the other hand, there are already national championships for men and women, contested between the winners of the regional leagues, and there is plenty of scope for more representative cricket, with regional teams providing the basis for these pathways that will, as the strategy recognises, be essential to achieving the DCB’s performance targets.

This in turn will require more high-performance coaches, a need that could be met at least in part by the strategy’s target of a 300% increase in sponsorship and partnership income.

With live streaming of major national and international events, a much-improved social media profile and active promotional campaigns, the ambition is to truly put cricket on the sporting map in Germany.

Transforming this bold drive from paper to reality will require concerted and consistent work at all levels of German cricket, but it would be a brave bettor to bet against them achieving.

By admin