How cricket helped me gain revenge over Hitler

I love cricket. I am not very good at the game. I have not played since leaving school. But I follow the sport avidly.

However, latching on to the matches is just as difficult as participating. You see, living in Israel, we do not receive TV coverage of the games. Phrases like “overs. wicket or silly mid off” do not readily translate in to Hebrew. And most Israelis like immediate sports, which ignore the patience of cricket’s 4 day efforts.

BUT: Last Friday, I found myself in very surreal surroundings. In the heart of Tel Aviv, I was looking out on a game of cricket – yup 22 souls dressed in white (well, mainly white) could be seen chasing a small red ball. The Ra’anana squad was having its first full work out of the season.

Israelis looked on bemused. Why were we not following the rules on baseball? The pitch was plastic matting, allowing bounce to vary dramatically from “leap up suddenly” to “skid through”. And the surroundings did not allow for a village pub, but a main road and Tel Aviv’s high tech centre. Nevertheless, cricket it was.

Players came from multitude of backgrounds and ages. Matt is a New Yorker, who is studying engineering in Haifa and has been bitten by the “English” virus. We were graced with the presence of a career diplomat from Jerusalem, proudly sporting his club cap. Accents betrayed origins ranging from London to Durban and over to Melbourne, via Mumbai.

I was disappointed that there were no cucumber sandwiches on offer at the break. I was secretly hoping for some freshly cut delights without crusts, washed down by traditional stewed tea. But the Australians had turned up with their BBQ, and I had to accept that this was the Middle East. Burgers it was to be.

Some of the guys are serious players and have made it into the national squad. In fact the Israeli team is now in Europe’s second division. This July, Guernsey will host a competition, which will also feature France and Gibraltar amongst others. 

My own performance was mixed. I scored a few runs, but more than a few were taken off my own bowling. I had fun. I was playing a game that I had put to one side at school, because it had clashed with my religious principles. The big matches were held on Saturday, my Sabbath. Here, in Israel, I can practice my faith and worship my sport with equal freedom.

Yes, the muscles ached the next day. As I was reading the weekend newspapers, the value of this “choice” was brought home to me very directly. I noticed that tomorrow, Monday, is Holocaust Day in Israel. Hatred, an inability to recognise that difference is what makes the beauty of mankind, led to the deliberate slaughter of six million of my fellow Jews.

Guernsey is part of Channel Islands, the one part of Britain occupied during the Second World War. Three Jewish women were deported from there all the way to Auschwitz, and did not return. Second Division or not, you bet I will be cheering on Israel come July.

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One Comment on “How cricket helped me gain revenge over Hitler”

  1. This category is altogether interesting.

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