26 July 2011

Euro Div 1 T20 - Final Post, Finally!

[galleries] [match reports] [tournament home on cricinfo]
[table and scorecards Group A] (Austria, Croatia, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Italy, Norway)
[table and scorecards Group B] (Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, Jersey)
[results and scorecards play-offs]


Germany v Gibraltar [report by Cricket Germany]
Well well. Germany lost their last match against Gibraltar, and perhaps it's because the Gibs are slowly overcoming their long-term slump, or because Germany had made some very bold line-up changes ahead of the match to give the back-up players another opportunity to gather experience, rested Javed and Milan, played three wicket-keepers and pushed Asif down to 8... yup, Germany had actually travelled to the Islands with three potential keepers in the luggage, and in the final we played all three of them, a funny constellation you won't see too often in an international match.

Ehsan Latif finished the tournament on a high, he had been bowling really well, but perhaps would have liked a few more wickets, but against the old foes Gibraltar he bowled just magnificently, 2-19 plus 15 runs, I'm very pleased for him. Kashif Haider enjoyed a fantastic tournament (more on this further below) and also in the last match he showed the opposition where the frog has the curls, 2 wickets, although they came at a price, and 23 runs as a middle order batsman.

The others

A few remarkable results were achieved on the last day, Israel rammed the broken Croatians into the ground and won by a large margin, they will be wondering why it took them until the last match day to deliver such a brilliant performance. The strong Norwegians also dominated in their last match, bundled France out for 70 and strolled home. Denmark inflicted on Italy what was essentially the great-grandmother of a drubbing, you rarely get to see an implosion like this Italian one, congratulations go to our northern neighbours for deservedly earning the crown.

Glory to the king

Kashif Haider (c) Cricket Germany
Been thinking of awarding a player with the "PFCNFS German Player Of The Tournament Award" and am ending up handing it to Kashif Haider :)

He's been the best and probably most consistent and reliable German bowler of the competition with 11/164 at 14.90 a piece and a more than decent economy rate of 5.85, and I liked how he approached his batting tasks -which included a brutally hammered 37* in the decider against Croatia- with a confidence that earned him the No. 6 spot in the batting line-up in the last match, in which he successively top-scored. Not bad for a guy who is classified as a tailender and usually bats below the other spinners and Rana-Javed Iqbal.

I'm wondering if he could be a lower middle order prospect for the future, i.e. as a pinch hitter in T20s, but nobody knows how the team will look in two years... however, not many will disagree if I say that it's cool having an aggressive, effective and experienced leggie like Kashif in the side and I hope he stays available for a long time to come.

Some other players really impressed me as well:

I liked what Dilshan Rajudeen was doing up there at the top, two matchwinning knocks in seven matches plus some really excellent stuff with the ball and in the field. Wish the tournament had been a little longer, so that he could have really started to thrive. Had the feeling that he was becoming some sort of core unit over the course of the competition. Dilshan was the second strong contender for the PFCNFS award :)

Two other names that kept sticking to my mind like glue were Syed Shah and Imran Chaudhry, I think they really contributed key performances and justified their selection especially if you consider that they had big shoes to fill. Both of them fired right from the start and turned out as key players quickly.

Kashif Mahmood and Ayoma Abeywickrama were kind of rivalling for the WK spot with Ben Das, which resulted in all three of them getting the gloves chucked at their heads seemingly randomly; all did well as far as one can interpret from the scorecards, but Kashif stuck out to me, Ayoma didn't get a lot of chances to shine, but I would really like if they got some more opportunities in German colours.

Of the veterans Javed Iqbal (I hope he has recovered from his injury), captain Asif Khan with his big knocks and Shakeel Hassan proved their class once more, I needn't make a big wave here about the hard yards they're putting in for the team time and time again, but would just like to say that I am really, really happy about the seniors that are playing for Germany, hopefully all them will be there again in two years...

Speaking of two years, I had actually planned to attach a longer rant about the ICC's politics in the regions, but it's still kinda halfbaked and I need to wait for some further info.

So all I'd like to say at this point is how glad and grateful I am to be able to follow such an awesome team (that includes the staff) and would like to express my thankfulness for the great rollercoaster ride and respective happy ends to each of these adventures in the past 12 months, can't wait until the Germs climb the bus or plane again to travel the world and show what hard wood they are made of. Thanks everyone for the great time.


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24 July 2011

Euro Div 1 T20 - Day 4 - Play-Offs - Germany Ruthless | Italy, Denmark Qualify

[galleries] [match reports] [tournament home on cricinfo]
[table and scorecards Group A] (Austria, Croatia, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Italy, Norway)
[table and scorecards Group B] (Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, Jersey)
[results and scorecards play-offs]


First of all commiserations to Israel and Croatia, as I said in both the previous posts Israel were nowhere near showing their full potential, and while their bowling undoubtedly picked up penetration towards the end, Josh Evans, again, and Herschel Gutman each with 3 for less than 20, their batting line-up simply didn't fire. I would not be too worried about them, though, they will immediately ascend to Div. 1 again in the next Euro T20 cycle.

Italy and Denmark

Big congratulations and bear hugs go to Italy and Denmark, who with remarkable performances against the two hosting sides Jersey and Guernsey secured their spots in the World Twenty20 qualifiers in Dubai next year. Denmark downright pummelled Guernsey into defeat with another display of absolute dominance.


Asif Khan (l.) and Dilshan Rajudeen top-scored for
Germany (c) Cricket Germany
Croatia v Germany [cricinfo scorecard] [report by Cricket Germany]
In brief, Croatia didn't have the ghost of a chance. In detail, after losing the toss and being put in Germany had reached 48-1 after 5 overs and my confidence grew. Well it was not like we had a choice, do or die was the motto. The next update appeared after 10 overs, Germany had swiftly moved onward to 92 for the loss of just one more wicket, and I quietly estimated our COW to be something like 80%, excluding any kinds of spontaneous implosions that is. At 151-5 with 5 overs still to bat I chuckled in disbelief, and when the innings closed at 222-7, the highest total scored in the whole tournament so far and the new German T20 record, it was pretty obvious that we had successfully defended our spot in the sun.

With glee I noted that both captain Khan and Dilshan Rajudeen had fired again, and when eventually the scorecard was put online you could figure that Dilshan had played a very smart, yet commanding opener's knock, while Asif absolutely smashed the Croatian bowlers left and right. Very useful runs came from Imran Chaudhry once again; additionally the two Kashifs, Mahmood and Haider, came over the Balkan bowlers like the apocalypse. I am especially happy for leggie Kashif Haider, who crowned his excellent bowling performance in this tournament with this unbeaten 37*.

Croatia must have been shaking in the face of this, frankly said, near unchaseable total, and our bowlers made light work of the Croatian batsmen. Germany largely banked on spin aided by part-timers, which meant that Ehsan didn't play. After his injury in the previous match Rana-Javed Iqbal was luckily up and running, as well as alive and kicking butt massively again, had Croatia in a shambles at 14-2 and conceded a mere 13 runs in his four overs, a mindboggling feat on a 222-run pitch. Kashif Haider, in the wickets, too, went for just 17, the second spell that left the Balkan brigade desperately gasping for air. Shakeel Hassan, Imran Chaudhry and Dilshan Rajudeen (:D) shared the remaining spoils amongst them, with Shakeel and Dilshan taking two each and none of them leaking too many.

Remarkably Germany's performance curve in this tournament is nearly congruent to that in Botswana; after demoralising initial defeats they bounced back strongly and clicked in the decider. Perhaps the old lore about Germany being a tournament team proves true in cricket once again.

The others:

France beat Austria mainly thanks to Ayya (48) and Zika Ali (4-13) again. Norway registered their fourth win in six matches, beating  Belgium by 3 wickets, I'd like to especially congratulate the Norwegians on their achievement, as they surely weren't having an easy time out there with the horrible tragedy in their homeland on their minds, and they generally deserve praise for playing a very strong tournament. Gibraltar defeated Israel in the second relegation duel and will therefore remain with us in Division 1, is this the turning point for the Gibs?


On the last day of the tournament the final rankings are determined... Denmark and Italy will fight for the ultimate crown, and we are facing Gibraltar in order to find out if we are still dominating them ;)  Here's the full list of today's fixtures, the matches start at 9 GMT / 10 BST/ 11 CET, except for the grand final, which is staged in the afternoon at 14:30 BST:
  • 3rd-4th match: Jersey v Guernsey (FB Field)
  • 5th-6th match: France v Norway (Farmers)
  • 7th-8th match: Austria v Belgium (Grainville)
  • 9th-10th match: Germany v Gibraltar (Victoria College)
  • 11th-12th match: Croatia v Israel (Les Quennevais 1)
  • Final: Denmark v Italy (FB Fields)
There was something else I was going to say, but it must have slipped my mind over night. All I can say is well done Germany, exceptional performance and attitude in the most crucial match of the competition, please try and finish the tournament on that same strong note,

PS: If you like this blog, don't hesitate to follow me on Twitter or friend request me on Facebook, I'm always up for a nice cricket chat :)


23 July 2011

Euro Div 1 T20 - Day 3 - Girte hain sheh-sawar hi maidaan-e-jung mein

("Only warriors fall on the battlefield")
This is what my friend Zeeshan replied, when I told him about yesterday's saddening defeat. Now I am smiling, somewhat happier... how right he is! Nevertheless, we are are now left in the situation of having to play winless Croatia, the carriers of the red lantern in Group A, in today's play-offs...

[galleries] [match reports] [tournament home on cricinfo]
[table and scorecards Group A] (Austria, Croatia, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Italy, Norway)
[table and scorecards Group B] (Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, Jersey)


Denmark v Germany [gallery]
Not many words shall be said anymore about the crushing defeat handed to us by table toppers Denmark. The Danes had immediately recovered from their little slip-up against Belgium and bullied their way to victory against both our batting and bowling. Since this is a blog and not a newspaper I claim the liberty not to mention the Messrs. Klokker, Ahmed, Pedersen, or Bashir Shah ;)

However, my thoughts go out to our veteran quick Rana-Javed Iqbal, who in his heroic attempts to keep the wickets from tumbling hurt himself on the chin and had to be treated at hospital. Hopefully, hopefully it is nothing too serious and he can take the ball in hand again today. Speaking of German cricket greats, here's another nice pic kindly provided by national scorer Wraye (who needs a Twitter account, unless she already has one):

The Germs during practice in their new, heaps awesome and incredibly stylish training kits. Click to enlarge.


Israel v Belgium
Although Israel were bowled out for 106 I believed for a long time they could pull off a stunning victory. Josh Evans, who has had a tough time in the Island this year, bounced back with a magnificent bowling performance of 3-14 off his 4 overs and sent three of the Belgian top order batsmen back to the hutch, and after the Israelis had taken another two wickets Belgium were reeling at 57-5. But that was the last wicket Herschel's men could take and so unfortunately they finish the group stage without a victory, which In my humble opinion does not display their potential in the slightest.

The others

Please refer to the match reports linked above for more results, I would just like to mention the once-in-a-lifetime performance by Austria's captain and wicketkeeper Amar Naeem, who, in Austra's match against Croatia, smashed an incredible 100* off 63 and collected 5 stumpings and a runout. A truly kaiserliche performance, I hope the Austrian cricket board pays him in Linzer Taler :P


So after the group stage is over the play-offs take place today, in which the teams face their counterparts from the opposite group each, you know the pattern: A1 v B2, B1 v A2, and so on. Since we finished second last in our group we are meeting the 6th ranked team of Group A, which is Croatia. Here's hoping for a big big big win... relegation looms!

List of today's fixtures, the matches start at 10:00 GMT/11:00 BST/12:00 CET:

* Italy v Jersey (Farmers)
* Guernsey v Denmark (FB Fields)
* Austria v France (Grainville)
* Norway v Belgium (Les Quennevais 1)
* Gibraltar v Israel (Les Quennevais 2)
* Croatia v Germany (Victoria College)

To be honest I have no favourites concerning the two qualifier spots for the World T20, but will hope that among these two Guernsey could make it. At the end of the day of course whoever takes the honours will be Europe's best possible representatives at the World Twenty20 Global Qualifier to be held in spring next year.

I will be keeping an eye on the score and my fingers crossed for the men in red and so should you. We are absolutely capable of beating Croatia, but they are in the same desperate situation as us and so I expect them to fight nail and tooth. But that's one of our strengths, too, and the weather looks good, so all that's left for me to say is

Go the Germs! :)

Or, as Brian Mantle puts it: "Verlieren ist heute verboten."

PS. extra happy cheers back @ Kashif Mahmood ^^


22 July 2011

Euro Div 1 T20 - Day 2 - Germany Are Back With A Bang

[galleries] [match reports] [tournament home on cricinfo]
[table and scorecards Group A] (Austria, Croatia, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Italy, Norway)
[table and scorecards Group B] (Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, Jersey)
Ball-by-ball coverage: [Croatia v Norway] [Jersey v Belgium] [Jersey v Denmark] [Guernsey v Italy]

Day 2, originally to be played on Wednesday, got completely rained out, so the teams had 24 more hours to recover from the two Tuesday matches and gather their spirits. The weather improved vastly on Thursday and luckily allowed for proper results from all matches.

[day 2 report by Cricket Germany]

Yeah what shall I say, after two straight losses we have registered back to back wins on Day 2, absolutely amazing, and for me personally one of these days on which I will happily trade any pay TV cricket broadcast for seven or eight delayed score updates on a slow website.

Israel v Germany [really really awesome gallery]

Since Israel were sadly not looking too great on Day 1 most of my and the team's hopes would have rested on beating the Negev nurdlers and then seeing where the momentum can take us from there.

Israel opted to bat and Daniel Hyman looked dangerously well-settled making a half-century before getting wrestled down by Kashif Haider (a splendid 2-16 for the leggie from Bochum) stumped by Ben Das, who was back behind the wicket! Some double figures were racked up by other batsmen as well and Israel reached 138 off their 20 overs. Of course -the regulars among you have seen this coming- I cannot leave Rana-Javed Iqbal's 2-22 unmentioned hehe.

Our batting had seemed to be a bit wobbly and although 138 doesn't look unchaseable I thought ok let's see. And indeed, both openers went out without scoring and No. 4 Kashif Mahmood didn't hang around for too long either, all three of them falling prey to Eliezer Samson, but lucky is the side that calls a Khan their own! Captain Asif (59*, 7x4) ganged up with Imran Chaudhry (60*, 2x4, 3x6) for a thrilling 109-run partnership to see the 'Germs' home within little more than 16 overs, lacking the respect especially for the bowling of Herschel Gutman, who went at 10/ov.

YES! Germany had bounced back, got the first win under the belt and that always seems to get us going, and not for the first time King Khan leading from the front provides the backbone for a great partnership that eventually results in a victory.

Germany v Belgium

With a much more optimistic approach we took on the powerful Belgians. I had not realised that they had lost their first game of the day versus Jersey, scoring a miserable 85 all out, and so they suffered their second defeat in one day, this time by the hands of, let's be frank, Rana-Javed Iqbal, as despite a decent German batting performance (144 off 20 overs mainly thanks to Dilshan Rajudeen) and some devilishly good bowling by Syed Shah (3-19), the ever-performing Shakeel Hassan (2-22) and Kashif Haider once again (2-28) Belgium only needed 6 or so from the last over with two wickets in hand, and who if not Javed could have been picked for this job! A runout and two dot balls later he held the final wicket in his hand! Okay okay I'm shutting up already. But hey, death over madness is the whole point of T20 :)

Concerning the batting I would like to add that Dilshan probably felt he was due a score and boy he delivered it, 58 off 47 from the young opener, a half century that provided the foundation for Germany's successful defence.  A useful contribution came from Shakeel Hassan; Fazal Rathore made 16* in Boom Boom style. And, tadaaa, Javed gave himself the runs he needed to bowl that last over, adding 14 off 16 at the end of the German innings.

Wicketkeeping-wise the coach juggled his act yet again and this time he asked Kashif Mahmood to slip into the gloves. A catch, two runouts and a stumping leave me with nothing to complain about! ;)

Furthermore I have ordered temple construction for the two new players Syed Shah and Imran Chaudhry, wow.... stunning performances right from the start. Chaudhry, in his amazing knock against Israel, was batting with a runner from the 7th over on and still made the highest score of the match, simply astonishing. If you consider that the side is more or less a patchwork job, since so many new players have been added, the understanding must be like amazing. Shah on the other hand, of who I had known embarrassingly little, except that he had recently moved from Göttingen to Hamburg and is considered a "great spinner", absolutely justifies his reputation.

Sorry for this brainless stuttering, just trying to do some maths here, as the official match report will probably not be up before tomorrow. But!!! German national scorer Wraye Wenigmann -cheers!!!- bestowed this absolutely priceless gem of a team photo upon me, look for yourself, I am still trying to pop my eyes back into my head:

Dear fellow cricket bloggers, look closely at this picture, or click to enlarge if necessary, and then tell me if your teams love you the same :P

Thank you so so so so much everybody! And by that I also mean Mr. @Cricket_Germany, Brian Mantle, as well as Brian Fell for his gripping match reports, which really enable you to relive the entire action, and first and foremost also all of the players that have previously played for Germany and did not manage to travel to the Channel Islands this time, but have carried us from the European 50 over league straight through to the WCL Div. 7;  thank you for all the hard yards you have put in for the side, this place would be so much more boring without you.

We have now climbed to the fourth rank in the table, with Belgium and Israel below us! Tomorrow Denmark, what will we be able to muster I wonder... we were tipped as one of the teams who could make it into the semis... hey Jungs, was haltet ihr von der Idee? Ehsan wie siehts aus? ;)


Unfortunately Israel have registered another two losses today, first against us (see above) and in their second match, in which they bowled so well and restricted France to 112, they folded completely and could only make 80 in their reply. To be honest their performance so far leaves me with a big question mark above the head. Can't really blame it on Gabi Schachat's absence anymore, can you... :(

I *know* they can do better than this, not sure why they aren't clicking quite yet, there is heaps of individual talent in the side, perhaps they are a little overawed by the presence of all these bully teams, dunno... Depending on the doability, it would be important for them to organise bilateral matches, of course their geographical situation doesn't make it easy for them to just hop across the border, but maybe something regular can be organised involving the Mediterranean teams... just some mutterings from a tired brain.

"De odders" (Dhoni):

Group A: Austria had sensationally beaten hosts Guernsey in the morning, but crumbled to 64 all out against Norway later on and had no chance defending this total.  Norway have won three out of their four matches so far, impressive performance by the Norsemen! Gibraltar celebrated their first victory of the tournament in their match against Croatia, the latter are winlessly stuck at the bottom of the table.

Group B: Denmark are back with two wins from their today's matches, they also beat hosts Jersey and are occupying the top spot in Group B. Annoyingly France, having got beaten by Denmark today, are ahead of us only because of their superior net run rate. Grrr.

Alright I've just realised that somebody has obviously replaced my brain with mashed potatoes, so that's good night for today and thanks a lot to the great people who were so kind and wasted their time talking to me over the course of the day, from Germany as well as from other countries, you are awesome :D

PS: If you like my blog don't hesitate to follow me on Twitter or friend request me on Facebook, will gladly respond.

PPS: If you detect any BS in this post let me know... will gladly put it right... tomorrow! ;)


19 July 2011

Euro Div 1 T20 - Day 1 - Suboptimal Start For Germany

[galleries] [match reports] [tournament home on cricinfo]
[table and scorecards Group A] (Austria, Croatia, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Italy, Norway)
[table and scorecards Group B] (Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, Jersey)
Ball-by-ball coverage: [Denmark v Israel] [Austria v Gibraltar] [Israel v Jersey] [Gibraltar v Norway]

The opening day was almost entirely dominated by the bowlers. Bowl first and win seemed to be the motto in most of the matches, and as a result we saw a lot of small totals that could hardly be defended. However, there are exceptions from every rule...

[day 1 report by Cricket Germany and pictures of the new kits]

Germany v Jersey:
German key figures: Imran Chaudhry 36 off 25 incl 3 sixes, Syed Farid Shah 2-19. Alright expecting to beat the elephants of the tournament would perhaps have been a little too much of an ask but I am so happy that two of the most reputable new players have immediately taken the bull by the horns. Gut gemacht Jungs!

Germany v France:
Asif put France in and the Frenchies managed 126 off their 20 overs. Doable? Yes. After 5 overs Germany were 33-0. Doable? Hell yesss! The next update appeared 5 overs later: 45-5!!! WHAT??? Must be a typo surely??? After 15 overs they had recovered to 75, but were needing like 10/ov... eventually were all out for 92 in the 19th over, the young French quick Zika Ali taking 3-17. Our France specialist FarOOq Ahmed must be sitting at home with a bleeding heart!

Sorry I don't mean to sound negative, will love and support the German team always, but I'm just a bit gutted for the boys here, and tomorrow will be another difficult day with matches against Israel and Belgium, the latter having beaten both France and Denmark today! Some more thoughts on Germany can be found at the end of this post.


The legation from the Holy Land shared our fate today, got beaten by both their opponents, Denmark and Jersey, rather comprehensively, after being put in and not amassing enough for their bowlers to defend, although Herschel Gutman of course couldn't help being impressive. They will face us and France tomorrow.

The others

Norway start with a win out of their two opening matches, they beat Gibraltar, who are still struggling and started into the tournament with two losses, the defeat against Austria being the other one. Italy fulfilled their expectations, and beat Croatia (narrowly) and Austria (convincingly). Guernsey and Jersey won both their matches as well, so the only hiccup has really been Denmark succumbing to Belgium.

What we can take from the day is that the favourites have justified their reputation, and are joined by the very strong Belgians.

Sorry my friends...

... if I really don't feel like writing more on today's events. While our bowling might suffice I have the nagging feeling that our batting is really the weak spot here. Am not happy with the absence of Tarun Rawat and Ashwin Prakash in particular, because (just my humble, ignorant and completely irrelevant opinion) we should perhaps try and give the youngsters a chance to gather some more international experience, but yeah "life is the biggest obstacle in life" I guess, and you can only pick 11 players for the match and have to make a harsh decision sometimes...

I will also keep beating the drum for Ayoma Abeywickrama, since judging from the Göttingen FB group updates he seems to be a good batsman, and deserves some more opportunities to show his class.

These views are all just based on hunches and gut feelings, so please don't bite my head off here... I also promise to be less grumpy tomorrow. A victory would help... perhaps against Israel, since a certain Israeli legspinner has announced that they would thrash us, so we have to give them a proper response ;)

PS: Will be thankful for any support! Don't hesitate to follow me on Twitter or friend request me on Facebook :)

Go the Germs!


16 July 2011

ICC European Division 1 Championship - Latest News

European Division 1 Championship (T20) 2011
Squads | Tournament Programme and in-depth squad descriptions (PDF)

Interested in the German team? To receive official updates during the tournament, ask all your questions on German cricket, and to express your support, please follow @Cricket_Germany on Twitter.

... your name is depletion... I was worried that a lot of players could not afford to take time off for a second week-long tournament this year, but still hoped that most of them would make it. However...

SQUAD: Asif Khan / Captain (Düsseldorf BlackCaps CC), Javed Iqbal / Vice-Captain (DSSC Berlin), Shakeel Hassan (SV Wiesbaden 1899), Dilshan Rajudeen (Bonn CC), Mudassar Razzaq (Dortmund CC), Fazal-Azeem Rathore (DSSC Berlin), Kashif Haider (Bochum CC), Kashif Mahmood (Pak Berlin), Syed Farid Shah (Pak Alemi, Hamburg), Milan Fernando (Serendip, Munich CC), Benjamin Das (Düsseldorf BlackCaps CC), Ehsan Latif (Pak Berlin), Imran Chaudhry (DSSC Berlin), Ayoma Abeywickrama (Göttingen UCT), Brian Fell (Manager), Keith Thompson (Coach)

PFCNFS-readers' favourite Satya Srinivas is missing a German tournament for the first time in his career, Germany have drafted two possible replacements into the squad, one of them being Ben Das (Germany selector), and Ayoma Abeywickrama. While Ben keeps wicket for the successful Düsseldorf Blackcaps I think that Göttingen's Abeywickrama would be our man here (because of the fact that his name kinda gives you a clue on this talent ;) ), and Ben jumps in when needed. But don't you find it amusing that it takes two people to replace Satya ^^ *bad but good joke*

Another gaping hole opens up in the side due to the absence of Rishi Pillai. Extremely painful since he's been having a super great run in domestic cricket.

The sparkling bowling allrounder Rajeev Vohra is not available either, schöner Dreck, I was of the opinion that he would make for a good T20 player as well. Damn.

Opener and, if you believe the rumours, Germany's sharpest fielder André Leslie is missing out, too, another big blow to our chances.

I'm also inconsolable about the unavailability of spinning allrounder Farooq Ahmed, he's high up on the list of my fav players and I needn't comment on his value in the Channel conditions, he had kickstarted his last year's Island campaign with a MOTM performance in this legendary match against France.

Out of the group of fringe and future players who are always on stand-by and pop in whenever needed I can't see anyone in the list. No Tarun Rawat, Ashwin Prakash, Shafraz Samsudeen or Khalid (Thomas) Butt.

So basically the entire middle order, incl. some of their possible replacements, got ripped out and has to be substituted.

However, I am very relieved to spot some familiar names in the list, these being skipper and stalwart Asif Khan, opener Milan Fernando, who seamlessly continued his rich form from Botswana and is coming off a stellar domestic season, the irreplaceable Shakeel Hassan, legmaster Kashif Haider, our ingenious strike bowling duo Rana-Javed Iqbal and Ehsan Latif, and of course Dilshan Rajudeen.

Too bad I hardly know anything about the new players in the side, some of them seem to originate from Javed Iqbal's Berlin team, i.e the one unbeatable force in the Wild East, so I trust they are capable replacements. No Dresdenians yet, but we should be getting there over the course of the next five or six decades, I am confident ;)

►►► Some details about the new guys and background info on the role of T20 in Germany can be found in this article on the Cricket Germany website, for more see the PDF mentioned above.

[Interview with Herschel Gutman about cricket in Israel and the preparation for the T20]
The Israel squad features all the great names I remember from last year perhaps with the exception of Gabi Schachat, so it quite looks like their opposition is in for a pasting here, especially as unlike some other countries the men in blue have not played any tournaments yet in 2011, which means they are sending their first string selection to Europe; they also started to practise early for this competition. Since the Israeli T20 cup has just finished (congrats Josh Evans and Ra'anana!) the players should be in the best possible fettle for the format. I firmly believe that we are going to hear more from this team in the future; although the coverage of Israel cricket outside the country might still be a bit sparse you can figure from the reports in the media that their support at home is growing constantly and the development of their local structures never comes to a standstill. You feel that something is bubbling underneath the surface and wants to break free very soon...

Random thoughts...
...Gibraltar have had a horrid last 12 months and will aim at returning to the European elite. While they will surely be missing the services of Christian Rocca and Richard Buzaglo the team is stuffed with young hopefuls as well as enough experienced forces and the format should help them to set an exclamation mark. Norway have suffered the mother of all blows since they are without Damien Shortis, and the 100% lack of Ehetsham ul-Haq keeps my affection within tight limits :P Guernsey feature all the names that annoyed the goodness out of me last year already. France are sending Ayya into the battle again. Jeeeeez.

Sorry for this topsy-turvy excuse of a blog post, more on everything in the coming days. Go the Germs!