Date: 27th Feb 2024
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THE GERMANS ARE COMING !

Date: 12th May 2023

THE GERMANS ARE COMING !

World Cup warm up at Liverpool on Sunday 16 July

Exclusive from Tom Evans, Liverpool Echo.

 

All eyes have been on Liverpool this week as performers from overseas take centre stage.

But the stars of Eurovision won’t be the last continental visitors to test themselves in the city this year.

 

A Love Lane Liverpool Competition select XI will take on Germany in two T20 matches at Liverpool CC’s Aigburth home on Sunday, July 16.

The games have been arranged as a warm-up for the Germans ahead of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Europe Qualifier in Scotland, part of the long preamble to next year’s World Cup.

 

England will defend their crown in the West Indies and USA next June, where they will be joined by two other European nations. 

Ireland and Scotland - the former an ICC Full Member, the latter with home advantage and both with plenty of white-ball experience - will be the overwhelming favourites.

But Austria, Denmark, Germany, Italy and Jersey will be hoping to spring a surprise or two. 

And Germany’s head coach, former Pakistan wicketkeeper Atiq-uz-Zaman, believes playing against the cream of the Comp will stand them in good stead.

He said: “Our first game is against Scotland on the 20th, so we want to make sure we get some good preparation.

“We know how good the Liverpool Comp is, and we want our players to be challenged.

“We could have played a friendly game up in Scotland, but I don’t believe we would have faced a very competitive side.

“It will be a really good challenge for us.

“It’s a fantastic ground with good facilities, and our players will be really grateful to play against a good side.”

 

Atiq has a coaching CV as long as the Aigburth boundaries, having worked extensively in the Lancashire age group and women’s sections.

After representing Pakistan in one Test and three ODIs, he moved to England to play for St Annes in the Northern Premier League, followed by spells at Westhoughton and Bradshaw in the Bolton League and Bramhall in the Cheshire County League. 

He said: “After I finished my playing career, I wanted to stay involved with cricket, and I thought coaching was the best way to do it.  

“I’d always been a leader on the pitch.”

As well as his Lancashire roles, Atiq coached in Pakistan domestic cricket with Sui Southern Gas Company, before moving back to England. Then Germany came calling.

 

Mainland Europe may not be a traditional cricket hotbed but, with the Subcontinental diaspora settling in, the game is catching on.

Atiq said: “It’s growing, bit by bit. 

“About four years ago, there were only 60 clubs - now there’s hundreds.

“There’s an elite league, which is a pathway for players to shine and get into the national side.

“The main thing is the pitches - in Germany, we don’t have any turf pitches, so we play most of our cricket on Astroturf.

“Then when they go overseas, they have to play on turf pitches and get used to that. 

“In the future, the plan is to get some turf pitches. We’ve got some beautiful grounds around the country.”

 

Former Leicestershire left-arm seamer Dieter Klein will be the most familiar of Germany’s players to an English audience, but Atiq highlighted spinners Muslim Yar and Rasul Ahmadi as ones to watch, as well as batters Josh van Heerden and Justin Broad.

“I think skill-wise, we are not far from anyone else,” he added.

“Obviously, our players can’t train three or four times a week because they have full-time jobs. But we can maximise their skills and get them together as much as possible.

“We just need a little more time, then we can compete with Ireland and Scotland. But on a good day, we can beat anybody.

“I’ve been going around and doing a lot of scouting and I’m amazed to see how many people are playing cricket, and how much talent they possess.”

 

Comp chairman Eddie Shiff is also excited about the prospect of showing off just how strong the league is.

He said: “I’m looking forward to the games. I’m sure the Comp will put up a very good side and give the Germans a run for their money.

“Our standard is far higher than a lot of the club competitions in the area. We pride ourselves on being the best in the North West - just look at the number of players from our clubs who’ve gone on to play for various counties.

“It’s a great honour to have this match.”

 

According to the exhaustive Cricket Archive database, Aigburth has played host to 50 matches involving sides from overseas.

The first was in 1882, when the Australian tourists were held to a draw, despite enforcing the follow-on against a Liverpool & District side led by Allan Steel - one of a handful of Scousers to play Test cricket.

 

Over the years, touring sides from Australia, West Indies, South Africa, New Zealand and India have faced Lancashire at Aigburth. 

Sir Donald Bradman scored 9 and 48* in May 1930, before hailing the ground as one of his favourite; the great 1984 West Indian side warmed up for their humiliation of England by beating Lancashire, with Gordon Greenidge making 186*.

Other less well-known visitors have come to Liverpool to take on representative sides, including Gentlemen of Philadelphia, Gentlemen of Canada and, in the 1950s, two sides simply called “Arabs”.

In 1911, Gentlemen of Liverpool suffered an innings defeat to Gentlemen of Germantown, Philadelphia - but the actual Germany have never visited.

More recently, Lancashire hosted games against touring ‘A’ sides from New Zealand, West Indies, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in the 2000s; Italy Under-19s played two games against a district side in August 2000.

But the most recent match at the ground to feature a full international side was in May 1999, when a Lancashire Cricket Board XI - featuring current Southport & Birkdale veteran David Snellgrove - lost a 50-over match by 10 wickets to the Netherlands.

 

 
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