Shortlisted for the Cricket Book of the Year at the British Sports Book Awards 2015.
Adolf Hitler despised cricket, considering it un-German and decadent. And Berlin in 1937 was not a time to be going against the Fuhrer's wishes. But hot on the heels of the 1936 Olympics, an enterprising cricket fanatic of enormous bravery, Felix Menzel, somehow persuaded his Nazi leaders to invite an English team to play his motley band of part-timers. That team was the Gentlemen of Worcestershire, an ill-matched group of mavericks, minor nobility, ex-county cricketers, rich businessmen and callow schoolboys - led by former Worcestershire CC skipper Major Maurice Jewell. Ordered 'not to lose' by the MCC, Jewell and his men entered the 'Garden of Beasts' to play two unofficial Test matches against Germany. Against a backdrop of repression, brutality and sporadic gunfire, the Gents battled searing August heat, matting pitches, the skill and cunning of Menzel, and opponents who didn't always adhere to the laws and spirit of the game. The tour culminated in a match at the very stadium which a year before had witnessed one of sport's greatest spectacles and a sinister public display of Nazi might. Despite the shadow cast by the cataclysmic conflict that was shortly to engulf them, Dan Waddell's vivid and detailed account of the Gentlemen of Worcestershire's 1937 Berlin tour is a story of triumph: of civility over barbarity, of passion over indifference and hope over despair.
|Publication date:||8th May 2014|
|Publisher:||Bantam Press an imprint of Transworld Publishers Ltd|
Adolf Hitler loathed cricket, believing it to be insufficiently violent, finding fault in particular with the ‘un-German’ use of pads by batsmen. None the less, cricket fanatic Felix Menzel managed to convince the Nazis to allow an English team, the Gentlemen of Worcestershire, to tour Germany in 1937. Schoolboys, former county cricketers, and nobility were among the members of this motley band, under MCC orders to defeat opponents who were not all accustomed to fair play. In Dan Waddell’s hands these characters are particularly well drawn. Menzel was responsible for keeping cricket alive in Germany even though it was the antithesis of Nazi sporting ideals. He then appeared from the rubble of Berlin in 1945 to offer bemused British troops a game. Waddell evokes the increasingly sinister atmosphere pervading Germany at the time, and his detailed account of this tour is an extraordinary mix of sporting and wartime history.
Eccentric and improbably entertaining The Economist Amusing, touching and chilling -- Christopher Hirst The Independent Cricket and Nazis! Can there be a more enticing combination of subjects to read about? A wonderful story... A story begging to be told -- Marcus Berkmann Daily Mail
Dan Waddell is a journalist and author who lives in west London. He has published ten non-fiction books, including the bestselling Who Do You Think You Are?, which tied in with the successful BBC TV series. The Blood Detective is his first novel.More About Dan Waddell