• Germany's news in English

Future of Berlin's cricket community in jeopardy

Kristen Allen · 13 Apr 2011, 18:18

Published: 13 Apr 2011 18:18 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Just a few weeks ahead of their season’s start, members of the BCK Berlin cricket committee were surprised and outraged to receive a letter from city sports administrators on April 1 saying their traditional pitch at Körnerplatz would be removed to protect passersby from errant balls. The cricketers deny this danger, and are fighting to get their pitch back.

“I’ve never heard of anyone getting hit with a ball,” said Martin Haynes, chairman of the Berlin Cricket Club, last year’s national champions. “Though a few cars have been damaged, the likelihood of injury to a pedestrian is slim.”

British soldiers began playing cricket at the city-owned Körnerplatz just outside the famous Olympia Stadium shortly after the Second World War. Since then a thriving community of cricketers from across the globe has developed into two divisions, nine clubs and more than 100 players. English, Irish, Indians, Pakistanis, New Zealanders, Australians, Germans and other nationalities - all of them play together at Körnerplatz.

“As Germany is wrestling with its multiculturalism debate, we’re being deprived of a place to develop a sport enjoyed by Berliners from around the world,” Haynes said.

Of the few cricket pitches in Germany, Körnerplatz is one of the best – though it barely meets official standards. But the alternative pitch recently finished by the city at the nearby Maifeld - also outside Olympia Stadium - is unsuitable for proper games and could be dangerous, Haynes said.

“We’re reviewing that,” said Andreas Tosberg, head of the city’s central sports division. “Optimal conditions are important, it’s just a matter of where, and how much it costs.”

Though the BCK plans to present an option to have the pitch insured against potential damage suits, Tosberg said two insurers had already rejected coverage.

“Thank God only vehicles have been damaged in the past, but in one case a ball went through a windshield, and we worry what could have happened if a person were standing there.”

Without proper insurance, the city is liable for damages, a situation that is “not good,” he said.

One option could be erecting a tall fence around the facility, but Tosberg estimated this could cost up to €80,000 – a sum neither side is likely willing to pay. The Maifeld solution has so far cost €6,000, he said.

Tourism before cricket?

Meanwhile the BCK suspects that the city may be more concerned about tourism than safety at Körnerplatz. Haynes claims there are plans to begin charging admission at Olympia Stadium, but games at Körnerplatz would cause problems at a nearby entrance.

“It has nothing to do with that. Those are two different things,” Tosberg countered.

The stadium, which is privately owned, is working together with the city to charge admission for tours and events, but a different entrance would be used, he explained.

The conflict is symptomatic of long-running problems between the cricketers and city sports officials.

“They don’t understand cricket and never had a sympathetic ear, so communication has been difficult,” Haynes said, citing several incidents where cricketers felt steamrolled by official decisions.

“We’ve been tolerated but not taken seriously as a sport,” he added.

Story continues below…

In March, there were two meetings with the BCK when the Maifeld move was mentioned, but both sides walked away with different impressions. BCK members thought it was a possibility, while the city viewed it as a plan of action.

Though the cricketers have no legal claim to Körnerplatz, they hope city officials will respect their long tradition and find a way to keep games going there.

The two sides plan to meet on Friday, and both say they are open to finding a compromise.

While the Maifeld could be improved to meet the BCK's explicit standards, Tosberg and his colleagues have not ruled out a return to Körnerplatz, though some parts of the pitch have already been unearthed.

“I have nothing against cricket,” Tosberg said. “If we can overcome the challenges to make it possible, then there will be cricket at Körnerplatz. It’s a beautiful facility, there’s no question about that.”

Related links:

Kristen Allen (kristen.allen@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

11:42 April 14, 2011 by majura
Ahhh, yes 'another' one.

I've been hit by a cricket ball. It hurts, but that's about it. It doesn't really kill you, unless I'm typing via a possessed body. Ok, it's possible to be killed by a '6' ball rocketing high in the sky, but I doubt it. Not to mention all the fielders yelling at you that a ball is coming in your direction.

You're more likely to die or be seriously injured just driving your car on the autobahn or walking across Unter den Linden.

Tourists are more likely to die stepping out into major intersections trying to take a photo - a strange phenomenon "oh hai, I in big city, but on holiday so I relax. It ok to step into 6 lane intersection with trams. This photo on my P&S really important".... :S
12:48 April 14, 2011 by mehta_p
They Say, "rauchen kann tödlich sein schwimmen auch". Still precautions are more important.

There is always a better option, if one has interest.

If Mr Tosberg supposes that the only fear is about the safety of pedestrians, then think about solutions than to STOP cricket from Berlin. It's not way of Germans, what Mr Tosberg is doing.
17:28 April 14, 2011 by TobeornottoB
The stance taken by the city sports administrators and Mr Tosberg is deeply flawed. Right next to the cricket field are several hockey fields. A cricket ball and a hockey ball are virtually identical and both sports involve the occasional launching of the ball off the playing field. Furthermore, in cricket the ball is struck in the center of the field, at least 55 meters from any pedestrian whereas in hockey, the ball can be struck from the sidelines within a meter or two of pedestrians. Presumably Mr Tosberg et al have acquired insurance coverage for hockey. If they have not also acquired the same for cricket it is because either they, and the insurance companies, are misinformed

or they have not really tried to acquire coverage for cricket. Mr Tosberg states that two insurance companies rejected coverage for cricket - but were they prompted to reject it? Did Mr Tosberg et al state at the time that the risks are identical between hockey and cricket so the same arrangement for hockey should apply to cricket?
17:28 April 15, 2011 by supernova
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
20:28 April 15, 2011 by ssn1978
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
00:41 April 16, 2011 by Englishted
If it is like other German rulings ,they will change their minds two or three times and then will no enforce any rule that is final (till the next rule comes out).

The home of red tape.
11:45 April 16, 2011 by Sam Green
Have they never heard of netting,screens! Got to be anti-British sentiments behind this!
17:11 April 16, 2011 by Al uk
That's just not cricket!
22:29 May 8, 2011 by kaiserbill
Year ago getting hit by a ball as a passer by was your own fault.
Today's headlines
Munich to get 'nice toilets' to serve cross-legged locals
Photo: DPA

The Bavarian capital has a pee problem - the city only has one public toilet for every 13,000 inhabitants. But a new plan could rescue desperate locals, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reports.

German kids get glowing report for their English skills
Photo: DPA.

As if multilingual Germans don't already put many English-speakers to shame, now the younger generation is improving their English skills even more.

Berlin museum controversially recreates Hitler bunker
The reconstruction of the Hitler bunker. Photo: DPA

Sensationalized or compelling history? Berlin museums clash over new Nazi bunker exhibit

Germans think they're fit, but they're really couch potatoes
Photo: DPA.

There's been an increase in the number of Germans who define themselves as "fit", but their lifestyle choices don't quite match this self-perception.

10 fascinating facts you never knew about German beer
Tennis coach Boris Becker and his wife Lilly at Oktoberfest 2016 in Munich. Photo: DPA

From malt and monks to Radlers and rivalries, the story of German beer is as rich and wonderful as its selection.

Intensive farming 'endangers a third of German species'
Photo: DPA

There are 32,000 species of animal, plant and mushroom life native to Germany. Due to intensive farming methods, one in every three of these is endangered, a new report shows.

German hospital uses therapy to 'treat' paedophiles
A poster from the campaigne "Don't offend", which offers therapy to paedophiles. The sign reads "Do you love kids more than you'd prefer? There's help." Photo: DB Scholz & Friends / DPA.

A unique German initiative is offering therapy to paedophiles to control their urges, with the aim of getting them help before they offend.

Minister: 'no tolerance' for clowns after chainsaw attack
Photo: DPA

Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière has called for a zero-tolerance approach to 'killer clowns' after a series of attacks culminating in two teenagers being chased by a clown wielding a chainsaw.

Baby who was auctioned on eBay taken away from father
Photo: DPA.

A German court ruled on Thursday that a man who put his one-month-old baby up for sale on the online auction platform eBay should only be allowed contact with the child under supervision.

Portugal's ruling party calls German minister 'pyromaniac'
Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble. Photo: DPA.

The head of Portugal's ruling Socialists called German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble a "pyromaniac" on Thursday after he criticized Lisbon for reversing course on austerity.

10 German clichés that foreigners get very wrong
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
10 ways German completely messes up your English
Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd