Footballer Dietmar Hamann played for Germany and known clubs like Bayern Munich, Liverpool and Manchester City. It was his time in England that interested him in cricket. He is also an avid Ashes follower © Getty Images
By Saj Sadiq
Dietmar Hamann is well known for his achievements as a footballer, having represented Bayern Munich, Newcastle United, Liverpool, Manchester City and Germany. He won the Bundesliga (German league title) twice with Bayern Munich as well as lifting the UEFA Cup with them. His career honours at Liverpool include two FA Cup wins, a UEFA Cup win, the UEFA Champions League and two League Cup wins. He represented Germany on 59 occasions and was a member of the 2002 World Cup squad that finished as runners-up.
Hamann was also a player-coach at MK Dons, was first team coach at Leicester City and also managed Stockport County. Nowadays he is a familiar face on our television screens as a football pundit, but his passion for sports doesn’t just included football.
A keen follower of cricket, Hamann spoke with PakPassion.net about how his interest in cricket developed, what aspects of cricket particularly appeal to him, his favourite cricketers and more.
Excerpts from an interview:
PakPassion.net (PP): You’re known the world over as a former professional footballer and media pundit, but there also appears to be a lot of interest in cricket?
Dietmar Hamann (DH): Well I’ve been in England a long time now, 15 years or so and have been watching the Ashes ever since I got here. Watching the high profile Ashes really built up my interest in cricket. Nowadays I always watch cricket whenever I have the time and I really find the game fascinating.
I think cricket is a fantastic game and you obviously need a lot of skill to play it, but there’s also a lot of strategy behind it and it covers everything that should be covered in a great sport in terms of skill levels and strategy.
As a batsman you have less than half a second sometimes to react to a delivery coming towards you from a fast bowler and the hand-eye coordination the batsmen have is unbelievable.
PP: Have you tried playing cricket yourself and if so, how did it go?
DH: Yes and I found out very quickly how difficult it is! I’ve had the occasional call-up by my local cricket club if they are one short for their second or third eleven and I’ll go along to ensure they have eleven players on the park. I qualify for the over forties soon, so, I may give that standard a go on a more regular basis.
PP: You seem to take the game very seriously and there’s quite a good level of analysis in what you tweet?
DH: You could label me an armchair expert. The television coverage of cricket in England is really good and if you listen to the likes of Ian Botham, Nasser Hussain, Shane Warne, Mike Atherton and the other pundits you pick up on the technical aspects of the game especially as they have played the game at the highest level. I really enjoy listening to the experts on television talking about the game as you learn a lot from their comments and analysis.
PP: Who are the cricketers that you particularly enjoy watching?
DH: I don’t know whether I should say this or not as I’m being interviewed for a Pakistani cricket website but here goes — my favourite cricketer is Sachin Tendulkar. He’s an all-time great, a wonderful cricketer. In addition I’ve always enjoyed watching Ricky Ponting and I particularly enjoy watching all-rounders in action as they have a lot of skill to perform with both bat and ball and are generally the stand out cricketers, especially Jacques Kallis.
Shahid Afridi is also one of my favourite cricketers. It’s great to see Afridi back in the Pakistan team and I’m pleased he did well in the West Indies recently. He’s a tremendous cricketer.
PP: What about pace bowlers, any in particular that you enjoy watching?
DH: Dale Steyn is great to watch and so is James Anderson. Both are very skillful and consistent and to bowl at that pace and to bowl the number of overs they bowl per day in Test matches is a wonderful effort.
PP: Apart from Germany, of course, which is your favourite cricket team?
DH: That would be England as I’ve been here for such a long time and I’m familiar with a lot of their players.
PP: How popular is cricket in Germany?
DH: The popularity of cricket is mainly amongst the ex-pat communities of Indians and Pakistanis living in Germany. Some of the local population also play cricket and I would class it as a developing sport in Germany.
(Saj Sadiq is Senior Editor at PakPassion.net, from where the above article has been reproduced. He can be followed on Twitter at @Saj_PakPassion)