The new SVL cricket team is starting the game and wants to inspire the Lohhofer
Prafull Toke, visibly and audibly enthusiastic, has turned his gaze into the distance – towards that roll-out artificial turf carpet in the middle of the field at the sports club in Unterschleißheim, where his team-mate Ramachandran Swaminathan has just hit a boundary, as it is called in cricket. Means: The captain of SV Lohhof circumnavigated the ball so skillfully past the defenders of the Munich Cricket Club (MCC) that it hopped beyond the edge of the field in a way that could not be detected.
Lohhof – As a result of this action, the opposing defenders now move their positions before Swaminathan strikes for the next blow – which in turn Prafull Toke on the side with interest, yes you have to say: followed with euphoria. “Take a look at that,” says the board member of the newly founded Lohhofer cricket department in the direction of Brigitte Weinzierl, who is standing next to him and who came to the SVL’s first league match that morning as a spectator. “They are now setting up completely differently because they know what’s coming.” With flashing eyes, Prafull Toke explains a few more tactical tricks before he concludes with a sigh. “Oh, I could talk about cricket for hours. It’s like chess – only with living pieces. “
Prafull Tokes’ enthusiasm is shared by hundreds of millions of people worldwide – especially in India, Pakistan, England, South Africa, Australia and other Commonwealth countries where cricket is the national sport. Elsewhere, on the other hand, for example in Germany, most people consider the game to be boringly boring because it is infinitely complicated and of unpredictable duration. Whereby: Cricket in Germany has recently developed considerably, says Prafull Toke, who came to Stuttgart from India in 2010 to study. “If you compare the situation ten years ago with today, it’s like day and night,” he says.
One reason for the increasing popularity of the sport, especially in larger cities, is the large number of professionals and students from cricket countries such as India, England and Australia. Another is the increased number of refugees in recent years, especially from Afghanistan, where the sport has a status like football in this country. According to the German Cricket Association, the number of clubs has recently risen to 140. One of the most recent additions is SV Lohhof, whose department was founded at the beginning of this year.
The majority of the approximately 40 members came from the Munich International Cricket Club – an association that was dissolved as a result of the collective change to SVL, says Prafull Toke. He speaks highly of the new home of cricket fans: “We feel very much at home at SV Lohhof. The conditions are just great. ”Twice a week, the players train on the field at the sports club – exactly where they are now playing their first league game.
Originally, the SVL should compete in the 2nd Bundesliga. But because the pandemic delayed the start of the season, there is a cross-league cup competition in Bavaria this year with four preliminary round groups of eight teams. They compete against each other twice before it goes into the playoffs, the winner of which qualifies for the German championship. The game is played according to the Twenty-20 mode – a short form of cricket that is enjoying growing popularity around the world, says Prafull Toke. A game here lasts about three hours – and not several days as in the classic form of play.
When Prafull Toke explains the basics of Twenty-20, goes into tactical finesse and breaks down even the most complex rule, it quickly becomes clear that the Neu-Lohhofer is well versed in explaining his sport to outsiders. “I do this a lot – and I like it,” he says. After all, he wanted to pass on his enthusiasm for cricket. Currently the department at SVL consists exclusively of players with Indian and Pakistani roots; there are also several Afghan refugees on the team, says Toke. The “long-term vision”, however, as he calls it, is a cooperation between locals and newcomers. In addition, a flourishing youth work and a women’s team are to be built. And, emphasizes Prafull Toke: “In the medium term, we want to get involved in charities and give something back.”
In addition, the Lohhof cricket players naturally also want to celebrate sporting successes. On her league debut, it works very well. Led by captain Ramachandran Swaminathan, the Reds, as the team calls themselves, land two convincing wins against the MCC. This success, according to the match report on the Lohhof website, “was a historic event, especially for the people who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to establish this department at SV Lohhof”.