April 14, 2011

German cricket

The Körnerplatz cricket conundrum

Liam Brickhill

Berlin’s only cricket pitch is under threat after city sports administrators deemed that stray cricket balls could be a hazard for passersby. The pitch at Körnerplatz, which was originally used by British troops more than sixty years ago, is now the home ground for nine local clubs with more than 100 players across two divisions. “I’ve never heard of anyone getting hit with a ball,” said Martin Haynes, chairman of the Berlin Cricket Club. “Though a few cars have been damaged, the likelihood of injury to a pedestrian is slim.”

Two insurers have already rejected coverage for potential damage suits, meaning that the city administration is liable for damages. “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,” said Andreas Tosberg, head of the city’s central sports division.

“I have nothing against cricket,” added Tosberg. “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.”

Haynes claimed that an alternative pitch at the nearby Maifield is unsuitable for a proper cricket match and potentially dangerous. With just weeks to go before the start of the local cricket season, the problem remains unresolved and, looking to raise support for their cause, the Berlin Cricket Kommittee has launched a campaign, including a Facebook page, to keep cricket at Körnerplatz.

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Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town

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