An MCC side is heading to Germany for a four-match tour which includes a match against the national XI at the Olympic Park CC. Other games, at the same venue, are against Germany A, Germany Under-19s and a Berlin Select XI between June 16 and 19.
Germany are one of 30 European member countries of the ICC and have recently returned from the 12-team ICC World Cricket League Division 5 in Jersey - a step on the road to qualifying for the World Cup. Their team features Abul Bhatti, the highest run-maker in German international cricket and Eshan Latif, a young left-arm bowler who won two Man of the Match Awards for his recent bowling performances in Jersey. MCC's team, managed by ex-Ireland International Ross McCollum, will also be on hand to coach some of Berlin's junior players and introduce one of the city's schools to cricket.
John Stephenson, head of cricket at MCC, said: "MCC is committed to developing cricket all over the world. In 2008 we have already toured in countries as far afield as Uganda and Argentina and will be making another visit to Europe later in the summer when we go to Denmark. We hope that providing both coaching and good opposition for the German teams we will both help with their preparation for Division 2 of the European Championship in July and encourage more youngsters to take up the game."
In its 20-year existence the German Cricket Board (DCB) has established more than 50 senior teams in five regions - Bavaria, Hessen, North Rhine Westphalia, Hamburg and Berlin - as well as women's and youths' sides. The 'Cricket to German Schools Project' won an ICC-Europe Development Award in 2008 for bringing the game to youngsters and the DCB's women's cricket initiative also won a 2008 ICC Global Award. This year sees the start of a national Twenty20 Championship.
Bringing the game to more young players and developing the game nationwide is a top priority for MCC and the ICC. MCC will leave a grant of $2500 (1594) and the ICC will donate $1250 (797) to develop facilities and coaching programmes in the country.
Brian Fell, president of the DCB, said: "The visit of a touring side representing the most famous cricket club in the world can help German cricket both by increasing interest in the existing cricket community - the chance to play against the MCC is seen as a great honour - and also by publicising cricket to a wider audience through the involvement of local government and sports authorities and the media. The matches against the German 'A' and U19 teams will be especially good for our programme."
Richard Holdsworth, the European Development Manager at ICC said: "MCC's support for the Associate and Affiliate country development programmes is extremely important and provides quality opposition for countries to test themselves. Their coaches' support for community coaching programmes taking place in those countries and their experienced umpires' expertise mean MCC tours are very valuable."