In a series of interviews, TME looks to explore cricket in Germany and the individuals responsible for the growth of the game in the most unlikely of countries.
Maximilian HÃ¶ck is a 24-year-old Bavarian wicketkeeper batsmen who, when needed, can also bowl very quickly. He has represented Germany at youth level and is the current captain of the Tegernsee Cricket Club. He has also recently stepped into the position of Bavarian Cricket's Youth Development Officer. The Munich Eye spoke to him about his cricketing ambitions and the development of the game in Germany.
How did you get involved in the game and where did it all start for you?
I first got involved with cricket at the age of 13, when a very ambitious English teacher introduced the sport at our local school. One lesson was enough for me to get hooked.
Was it difficult learning the game?
Growing up with it is an advantage but I believe, with a little feel for the ball and a sporty mindset, anyone can learn it quite easily.
Germany is not known for its cricket per say. How much has it changed since you started playing?
In my time as a national youth player, Europe felt less connected cricket-wise than nowadays. The ICC has now seen the great potential of German cricket as a result of the consecutive success of both our male and female national teams'. Personally, getting the chance to build on long-term relationships with teammates from different backgrounds and also to meet people with the same passion for the sport from countries like Israel or France, has always been a major motivational part for me. Being a development officer gives me the chance to offer the same opportunities to future generations.
What does the future of the game hold both in Germany and Europe?
The integration aspect of cricket, i.e. bringing cultures together, is being used more to promote the spirit of cricket in Germany. We hope we can become more popular and more successful.
How often are training sessions and games held?
During the summer, we play every weekend. Practise for my club (TCC) is held on Thursday's in Tegernsee and on Friday's in the English Garden in Munich, where the Munich Cricket Club (MCC) hold their practise as well. Feel free to come down!
Do you follow international cricket a lot?
Not at all. I am seriously overwhelmed by the amount of cricket that is being played around the globe. I like historical clips of Vivian Richards and Ian Botham though. I can highly recommend the popular film "Fire in Babylon", as it shows the bizarre political and emotional part of the game during the 1960s and 70s.
What have been your favourite moments of playing cricket?
Playing for Tegernsee is been special every weekend but celebrating the successful performance of a teammate is great.
What are your ambitions for your cricketing career?
I will try and improve on my performances by the end of the season. Daily workouts are part of that preparation. By the end of next year, I will hopefully get the chance to play a season in England. The high quality there is very exciting for me. The wonderful grounds and facilities are equally exciting.
What does German cricket need to keep on improving?
Young cricketers need to start making their way forward into the game both at league, county and international levels. International cricketers are playing high-level cricket at very young ages. Many of the international debuts happen from the late teens and it is something that needs to happen now rather than later because interest with the youth will be lost quickly. Youth work is vitally important for a healthy organisation. I am really hoping we can inject some drive this way.
What kind of things are involved in the admin side of German cricket?
We organise tournaments throughout the year. One of the highlights will be our international cricket weekend on the 16th-17th March 2013, as it celebrates a ten-year tradition for us. There will be a tournament for kids, youngsters and young adults at the Bavarian International School, the European School of Munich and Tegernsee grammar school. Another event we are looking forward to is the Munich Sport Festival in July this summer because we are taking part! We will also be involved in two U19 tournaments in Frankfurt and Belgium. We are offering kids practise here in Munich once a week as well. Everyone is welcome to join in! The usual practise times are Sundays from 10am to 12pm at the European School of Munich. Feel free to contact me for details (email@example.com).
Who is your favourite cricketing hero?
Sir Vivian Richards, simply for his astonishing presence on the field.