Hitler XI- Just not Cricket!


“Ve haf ways of making you walk…”

It’s hard to believe, but Adolf Hitler played cricket – at least once. During his convalescence from war wounds towards the end of the First World War in a southern German hospital,  Hitler apparently observed a game of cricket being played by some British officers who were prisoners of war. He then raised his own cricket team to play a POW selection after they had sportingly written out the rules for him.*

His interest in the hallowed and willowed game was not entirely that of a true blue sportsman. Apparently he wanted to study the English game as “a possible medium for the training of troops off duty and in times of peace”.  Perhaps he’d heard of the (probably apocryphal) quote attributed to the Duke of Wellington “The battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton“.

Wisden has no record of the outcome. Perhaps it was a phony game which ended in a draw. Based on this single  experience on the green sward Hitler  declared the sport “unmanly” and tried to rewrite the laws of the game.

The future Führer advocated the withdrawal of the use of pads because the “artificial bolsters” were “unmanly and un-German“.  In an early confirmation of his hardball political tendencies he also recommended a bigger and harder ball.

However, he did not think outside the box and advocate the abolition of nether protection. This may be because the rumours of the testicular deficiencies of several Nazi leaders, including Goebbels and himself, were,  indeed, true*. It seems that despite Goebbels mastery of spin Hitler would have taken the new ball at the first opportunity.

The  report of the game is also mute on the venue, but, looking ahead, had Hitler pursued the sport Nuremburg would have been perfect for one day games, accompanied by the Nazi anthem: Horst-Wessel-Lied – “The flag high! The ranks tightly closed! …”  

The Nazi salute, modified with a final extension of the index finger at the apogee, was, of course, tailor-made for umpires.

If Hitler had pressed on with his pre-Packer cricket innovations and Germany had won World War II there could have been a potentially rivetting triangular Ashes Series with a whole new meaning.

Happily, it turned out rather differently, but one should still be tactful when speaking to German tourists about Australian cricketers. Don’t mention the Waughs.


Records have been lost, but Hitler’s  team could have been:
A. Hitler,  Captain
H. Göring, Vice-Captain
K. Barbie  
J. Goebbels
H. Himmler
R. Baer
M. Bormann
J. Dietrich
H. Frank
R. Hess
H. Müller
12th man  A. Drexler

Match Officials

Umpires  A. Hitler and A. Hitler
Third Umpire  A. Hitler
Scorer  A.Eichmann
Statistician A. Eichmann
Coach   A. Hitler
Team Manager  A. Speer
Media Liaison  A. Streicher
Team Doctor  Dr K. Brandt
Major Sponsor  International Business Machines

 #Lyall Lukey  12 April 2010 

http://www.lukey.co.nz/  http://www.smartnet.co.nz






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