4 day youth training camp with 4 matches against 3 Danish teams
Background – For several years now, THCC Rot-Gelb Hamburg has held successful summer youth cricket camps at its ground in Hamburg, in association with the Twenty20 Cricket Company. In 2014, there were even two camps, a week-long soft ball camp also open to the youngest cricketers and a 3 day hard ball camp for the older ones. In 2015, however, the THCC youth coaches volunteered to dedicate some of their holidays to run the camps themselves. The soft ball camp was run by coaches Keith, Matthew and Steve and took place 17th–20th August at the THCC ground in Hamburg Klein-Flottbek.
For the hard ball camp, however, the coaches recognized that what the U15/U17 players needed most was match practice. With so few matches scheduled during the outdoor season, as a result of having so few opponents in Northern Germany, the coaches reached out to Husum CC early in the year and asked about holding the camp at their fine ground and playing matches against the Husum team and potentially some Danish teams as well. Jörg Krüger at Husum CC invited youth teams from Køge (near Copenhagen) and Skanderborg, and together with the THCC and Husum teams, a 4 team youth cricket festival was born.
Day 1 – Arriving at Husum early on Friday afternoon, the 12 players first acquainted themselves with the excellent cricket facilities and onsite accommodation, but very soon changed into their training gear, keen to start putting bat to ball. Coach Frank first put them through their paces with some fielding practice in the outfield, before making use of the fine net facilities. The boys could hardly tear themselves away from the net practice, Frank only calling it a day when supper was called at around 7pm. By this time cooks Sven and Constanze had arrived and prepared a hearty meal.
Day 2 – The first fixture on the schedule was a 15 over match with a 9am start against the young team from Køge CC. Coach Frank had decided to experiment with different captains for each game, and so having lost the toss, Niklas sent in Zaki and Mishan to open the batting. With a tournament rule having been agreed upon that the batsmen were to retire having scored 25, Zaki (27*) soon made way for Maher (26*), who in turn made way for Niklas. Mishan (26*) soon also had to retire and so THCC finished their allotted 15 overs on 122/0, with 3 batsmen retired and Niklas (15*) and Till (6*) undefeated at the crease.
Zaki and Jan opened the THCC bowling with Maher keeping wicket, but Niklas rotated the bowlers frequently and managed to give all 10 bowlers either 1 or 2 overs. Køge finished on 50/6, with the wickets being shared by Luke (2), Zaki, Kilian, Till and Arif. An easy win by 72 runs gave the team confidence, but it was clear that the older teams from Husum and Skanderborg would represent a stiffer challenge.
The THCC team then had a break whilst the Danish teams played each other, and were able to observe the opposition in preparation for their next game in the afternoon, or practice in the nets. Another tournament rule which the THCC players and coaches found to be appropriate, and worthy of consideration for the North German youth leagues, was that wides and noballs were counted 1, but not repeated until the last 2 overs (of a 15 over game). This resulted in good timekeeping but also avoided having team scores unnaturally inflated by awarding 2 runs for a wide or noball.
In the afternoon, it was Luke’s turn to captain the team against the impressive-looking home team from Husum, which included Leon, a Danish U15 international as wicketkeeper/batsman and Luca, an imposingly tall and powerful opening bowler. Husum batted first but were restricted in their 15 overs to just 64/4, a result of some very disciplined bowling and fielding by the THCC team after the Husum team had got off to a good start. Torben, Niklas and Kilian each took a wicket and there was good runout by Johann too. Zaki was especially miserly, his 3 overs only costing 5 runs, but it was Torben’s late inswinger accounting for the Husum opener Leon which was the highlight.
Continuing to experiment, and in the interests of rotating the opportunities, coach Frank and captain Luke sent in Arslan and Arif to open the batting. Both impressed with their calm and measured approach, picking up singles and waiting for the bad ball. After Arslan (8) was caught, Zaki came in for a quickfire 25* before retiring. Following a brief innings from Torben, the victim of some of his own late inswinging medicine, Arif (12*) and Maher (5*) reached the target with more than 3 overs to spare, resulting in a comfortable 8 wicket victory.
In the evening, Husum CC laid on a barbeque for all 4 teams. Before and afterwards, the youngsters (and a few of the adults) were so keen to keep on playing cricket that an impromptu friendly game was played as the sun gradually went down. A great day of cricket!
Day 3 – Sunday morning dawned as sunny as the preceding days, and THCC were due to play the first game of the morning again, this time a 12 over match against Køge CC. It was Mishan’s turn to captain, Køge won the toss and elected to bat. Jan and Luke opened the bowling, but as in the previous games, the bowling was rotated frequently and 8 bowlers were used. With the exception of the Køge opener Simon (12), none of the batsmen managed to get into double figures, with Till (3/1), Kilian (2/2), Zaki (2/4), Jan (1/3) and Luke (1/5) sharing the wickets and the Køge innings closing on 24 after 11.5 overs. Mishan performed his captain’s role admirably, encouraging his players and directing his fielders well.
As neither had batted in the previous games, Kilian and Jan were invited to open the batting for THCC. Jan (1) was caught behind in the 2nd over but Kilian (7) and Luke coming in at first drop played responsibly, before Kilian was bowled. Johann (0) was similarly dismissed coming in at 4, but Torben (2*) and Luke (7*) ensured the target was reached in the 7th over.
The Danish teams then played each other again before the final match of the weekend. This was a 32 over game played with a white ball, with THCC asked to take on a combined “best of” team from the Husum and Skanderborg sides. Each team numbered 12 players, with 12 batting and 11 fielding at any one time. Till assumed the captain’s mantle and the Husum/Skanderborg team went into bat first. Maher and Jan opened the bowling for THCC but the batsmen got off to a great start, racking up 32 runs in the first 4 overs. The first wicket fell to Maher, caught behind by Zaki off a mis-hooked short ball. Against tighter bowling and fielding, the Husum/Skanderborg run-rate slowed but wickets proved elusive, with the Danes batting sensibly. The innings closed on 167/6, the wickets shared 1 a-piece between Niklas, Maher, Torben, Zaki and Arslan, with one runout.
THCC went into bat knowing that with their batting line-up, they only needed to bat sensibly over the 32 overs, and the target should be achievable. Torben and Luke opened, but Torben was bowled in the 2nd over. Zaki coming in at 3 showed his intent and was lucky not to be caught early in his innings. Luke (4) was 2nd out, bowled by another inswinger with the score on 31, but with Maher joining Zaki at the crease it seemed the match might be over quickly. However the Husum and Skanderborg attack bowled with discipline, and so it was that the batsmen’s impatience resulted in their respective downfalls, Zaki (20) and Maher (23) both getting out caught, not having sufficiently adjusted from the 12 or 15 over match formats to the 32 over format, and used to playing 20 overs in the North German youth leagues.
From then on the THCC batsmen took it in turns to keep Mishan company at the crease. Mishan resolutely defended the good balls and had the patience to wait for the run-scoring opportunities and the occasional extra. When last man Jan came in with the score on 107 in the 19th over, 5 runs per over were required. Over after over, Mishan and Jan (2*) stuck it out, picking up singles and extras and defending their wickets. Fans of test match cricket would have been delighted. Finally, however, in the 27th over, Mishan was out caught after an admirable innings of 25 off 57 balls, the THCC innings closing on 131, a defeat by 26 runs.
Day 4 – The final day of the camp was dedicated to an extended training session. With the clouds coming in from the North Sea, it was decided to make the best use of the training facilities and pitch instead of going to play beach cricket at St. Peter-Ording in the afternoon, as originally planned. Fielding drills and then some match situation batting in pairs rounded off the camp. All in all, it was a tremendously successful camp and one which we would certainly like to hold again next year. It was great to renew the relationship with Husum CC and to make new contacts with Køge CC and Skanderborg CC.
Many thanks are due to our hosts Jörg and Martin at Husum and to all the THCC parents and family members who made the camp possible by helping with the driving, catering, coaching, umpiring and scoring.
THCC Rot-Gelb U15/U17: Arif, Arslan, Jan, Johann, Kilian, Luke, Maher, Mishan, Niklas, Till, Torben und Zaki.
Coach: Frank Tschentscher
With thanks to the supporting parents and family members: Constanze, Sven, Gundi, Björn, Max, Ather, Anja and Mark.