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The German women's team are enjoying new-found fame after breaking several T20I records

Three players talk about beating Austria 5-0 and juggling jobs with cricket

Fifteen-year-old Emma Bargna took a record 5 for 9, Austria v Germany, 2nd T20I, Seebran, August 13, 2020

Fifteen-year-old Emma Bargna took a record 5 for 9 against Austria  •  Monika Loveday/DCB

When Germany women took the field for the first T20I against Austria in Seebarn on August 12, it marked the return of women's internationals since the T20 World Cup final in March, but the series will be remembered more for all the records Germany broke along the way to a 5-0 win - two hat-tricks, the team's first T20I century, Germany's first T20I five-for, and their openers setting the highest unbeaten partnership for the first wicket across all T20Is.
The sudden limelight was something the players weren't used to. The livestreams of these matches on YouTube gained over 85,000 views each, and their phones buzzed with notifications from across social media handles.
Fifteen-year-old offspinner Emma Bargna took ten wickets in four matches, including 5 for 9, the first five-for for Germany across genders. She says she was left a bit heartbroken to have not been able to get a hug from her team-mates - as Covid-19 protocols prohibited it - but she was dazed by the support she got on social media, including a bump of 100 followers on Instagram.
"I was scrolling through my Twitter feed and I came across a tweet which said, 'Which new cricketer are you looking forward to seeing in the future,' and there was a reply saying, 'Emma Bargna - I've seen her playing for Germany and she has real talent.' It was surreal to me to see people actually remember my name and watching games I played in," Bargna says.
She was nine when she was introduced to cricket while living in England. On returning to her birthplace, Munich, Bargna, went to a women's cricket camp with her mother, a village cricketer herself. It didn't take the 12-year-old long to realise she had fallen in love with the game.
She has been working on her technique with Germany coach Michael Thewlis, a Level 3 ECB coach who has been with the side since 2018. Thewlis first saw Bargna as a 13-year-old and says her bowling style - spin with a medium-pacer's run-up and speed - reminded him of the England great Derek Underwood.
Despite her talent, Bargna believes that cricket will remain a part-time pursuit for her, the way it is for her Germany team-mates, 80% of whom are scholars and have full-time jobs.
"I don't think me playing will pay any money, so I would have to get a job on the side," she says. "I want to get my masters in psychology and move on to be a psychologist or a sports psychologist and work with a team."
But Thewlis thinks a few players in the team have the potential to break into English domestic sides depending on how well they perform at ICC tournaments. Last year he arranged for Bargna to play a club game for Ashington in Northumberland.
"As far as the future's concerned, five or six of the girls could definitely end up playing some professional cricket but you need to be a full ICC member nation to think of such a future," Thewlis said. "What I can do is continue training and coaching them and chat with coaches I know across the country and give them opportunities for trials. I don't think anyone's there yet, but if we have this conversation this time next year and if we have a good tournament in the ICC qualifying tour, we might see some interest from the counties back in England."
Thewlis expects Bargna's bowling to develop further over the next couple of years. "At the moment because she's still really young and her hands are really small, it is a bit difficult for her to grip it in a way to spin it. We will spend the next couple of years with her building up to it. The fact that she's bowling now and not getting hit very much suggests to me that she's got great control of her line and length, which is really important.
"We're planning to get her over to the UK when the pandemic starts easing a little bit. We would give her games through the year with my women's side in Ashington or my junior side, just to help with her development."


Peris Wadenpohl is a mother of a six-year old and is currently taking a course that will let her work as a kindergarten teacher, but she's also a middle-order batter for Germany. Wadenpohl chose to skip the tour of Austria because she didn't want to miss her son's first day at school, but she is very focused on her training, making sure she catches up on weekends if she misses any sessions during the week.
Wadenpohl, 33, took a two-year break from cricket after her pregnancy. "At the beginning it was really hard," she says. "I took some time out. You can't leave a small kid behind for a week. And the body also doesn't work - everything felt heavy and difficult. When I came back, it was more hard work for me to get back on my feet. It wasn't easy but manageable."
Over the years, Wadenpohl has been able to balance all these aspects of her life with the support of her family and her team.
"We give her the freedom to say that she can't make some of the sessions because she needs to be at home," said German cricket board vice-president Monika Loveday. "In Austria she missed because her son started school last week. That's an event no mother wants to miss. She has quite a big support from her family and they look after her son when she goes away [for matches]."


Anne Bierwisch has a PhD in Toxicology and she's also the first German player ever to take a T20I hat-trick. In the third match of the series, Austria were 41 for 4 when medium-pacer Bierwisch came on to bowl her first over. By the end of the over, she had sent back three batters for ducks and Austria were 41 for 7, eventually folding for 54. A day later, Bierwisch's captain, Anuradha Doddaballapur, grabbed headlines with a first in women's T20Is, taking four wickets in four balls and finishing with 5 for 1 in the match - the best T20I figures by a captain across genders.
Bierwisch started playing - and following - cricket only four years ago, when former Germany women's captain Stephanie Frohnmayer asked her to join her cricket club while Bierwisch was a scholar at a research institute in Munich. To meet her international playing commitments today, she takes time off and works weekends to make up in her full-time job at a consultancy.
"I love what I'm doing, so it's fine," she says. "I picked it up only as I started playing. Watching a lot of matches on YouTube helped me understand the game.
"Our captain Anuradha is also very experienced. She's always there when you need cricket or life-related advice. Our coach Michael is incredible too. He knows exactly what to tell each player and how he can bring the best out of them. Our team improved a lot since he picked up the job as a coach.
"There's no rivalry - we're like friends supporting each other, helping each other out. It's bringing out the best in us and helping us achieve all these amazing records we got in Austria."
For Thewlis too, the biggest strength of the team, unbeaten this year, is their unity.
"We had a journey up to the north of Germany from Hamburg and we did some stupid stuff on the train," he says. "We did jigsaws together as teams and they were taking pieces away from each other. We also shared what they admire about one another because I don't think team-mates share that sort of information. You get to know what your strengths are. I couldn't ask for a more cohesive group."
Loveday said that the players all fight for each other on the field. "Somebody pointed out we don't have names at the back of our shirts. It just has 'Deutschland' and 'Germany' written on it. They all play for the team. The way they go about it is incredible."

Sruthi Ravindranath is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo