After football, cricket is the second most popular sport in the world. With nearly three billion viewers, the sport is particularly prevalent in Commonwealth countries. These include India, Pakistan, Great Britain, Canada, and many more besides. The sport has long since become an integral part of the culture of these countries, and connects people regardless of religion, gender or origin. Although cricket has become an integral part of northern Europe, it has received little attention in central and southern Europe. In Germany, this change has occurred only recently: according to the German Olympic Sports Confederation, cricket is the fastest-growing sport in Germany.
Cricket is a ball sport or, more precisely, a batting game in which two teams of eleven players compete against each other. The batting team fields two players on a 20 m x 3.6 m pitch and tries to hit the ball as far away as possible. The two batting players then run between the two wickets on the pitch, getting points for the number of runs scored. Meanwhile, it is the job of the opposing – fielding – team to retrieve the ball and throw it to the wicket-keeper. In possession of the ball, the wicket-keeper then attempts to hit the stumps before the running batter, which causes him to be run out. After a set number of overs have been bowled, the two teams change batting and fielding positions, and the second team aims to score more runs than the opposing team.
Cricket has been played at SRH University Heidelberg for several years. The internationalisation of the university is beneficial to the sport, as it enables a lively exchange and forms an interface between students and the clubs. One of our former students leads the way as a good example:
35-year-old Vijayashankar Chikkannaiah, former player of TSG Heidelberg-Rohrbach e.V. and now active for SSC CLK Karlsruhe, is a German national player and talks about his experiences in cricket and the fire that burns within him.
Vijay, how many years have you been playing cricket?
I have been playing the sport for 29 years now. As a child, I grew up with cricket, just as children in Germany grow up with football. This sport has been with me all my life now. My first birthday present I received as a child was a cricket bat.
Which degree programme did you choose, and why?
I have completed my Master of Applied Computer Science at SRH University Heidelberg. I was looking for a degree programme that didn’t just teach pure theory, but was highly practice-oriented. The CORE principle meets my expectations of a degree programme because I gain the skills and qualifications I need. It’s important for me to improve my SAP skills so that I can make a smooth transition to the world of work after my Master’s degree.
Why is cricket such a great sport?
There are many answers to this question.
With the emergence of British cricket clubs, the sport became popular as early as the 15th century. In the colonies, the purpose of cricket was to increase contact between the locals and the colonial power; also, the sport was intended to instil social values and norms in the locals. From a mental perspective, cricket is so popular because it helps each player perceive challenges and overcome them. You learn not only how winners feel, but also how to deal with losing and how to work on your mentality. The athletic aspect is equally important. During training, we learn to improve our reflexes, which is occasionally useful in everyday life.
How important is cricket in India?
Cricket is by far the most popular sport in India, and is played almost throughout the country. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is the governing body of Indian cricket and runs all domestic tournaments. The Indian cricket team is one of the most successful teams in the world, which also has an impact on the country and its schools. There are numerous sports boarding schools that nurture young talent. Despite this status, family comes first, followed by one’s career. Cricket is the third-most important priority in my home country.
To what extent has this sport changed your social environment?
Since I started playing cricket, I have made many friends. Many of them are in Germany, and continue to remain friends to this day. This sport connects people from all nationalities, and always ensures that the conversation does not run dry. Having played in the German national team, I am often recognised and have friendly chats to people who are interested in cricket.
You now play in Karlsruhe, but you also used to play for TSG Heidelberg-Rohrbach e.V.
With that experience, you’ve certainly set yourself big goals.
I played for TSG in 2019 and 2020, and really appreciated the passionate players and coaching team. The atmosphere before matches was impressive because we all had our sights set on our goal. This experience has also led to my goals changing. My biggest dream would be to qualify for the Cricket World Cup