The future leader of Nazi Germany was taught the basics of the game by First World War POWs, BBC broadcaster John Simpson found.I'm not surprised. All the most notorious monsters of the last 100 years (Robert Mugabe, John Howard, John Major) have been keen on cricket.
But according to his new book about 20th century reporting, the corporation’s World Affairs Editor discovered the Fuhrer later became frustrated with the game’s complex rules and tried to rewrite the game’s laws.
He had “advocated the withdrawal of the use of pads” because the “artificial bolsters” were “unmanly and un-German”.
Hitler challenged some British POWs to a game, though we don’t know who won.
Immediately after the end of the match, Hitler declared the game “insufficiently violent” for German Fascists.It’s hard to imagine a more brutal game than old-time cricket. Up until the 1970s nobody wore much protective equipment. They didn’t wear helmets, so when someone bowled short stuff you really were in fear for your life. If you think I’m exaggerating read this story about the NZ cricket tour to South Africa in 1953.
“He had conned over (sic) the laws of cricket, which he considered good enough no doubt for pleasure-loving English people,” wrote Mr Locker-Lampson.
“But he proposed entirely altering them for the serious-minded Teuton.”
There was speculation that due to his contempt of the game, Hitler was dismissed for a “golden duck”, although this has never been confirmed.
Still, imagine if the Germans had picked up cricket, albeit a more violent version. It’s interesting to ponder the rule changes that might have been required:
- Nobody would play for a draw any more. Total, crushing and complete victory would be the only possibility.
- No more playing off the back foot. Get forward, you cowards!
- Everyone would wear black.
- Some fielding positions would have to change. Deformities such as short leg or long leg are not tolerated in the master race.
- Wickets would be renamed “kills”.
- The running by batsmen of twos or threes would be prohibited, because that would involve a return to where you hit the ball from. A good German soldier does not retreat.
- Appeals to the umpire would involve gangs of armed thugs.