Sunday, June 29th, 2014

Field Of Shadows, The English Cricket Tour Of Nazi Germany 1937

Field Of Shadows, The English Cricket Tour Of Nazi Germany 1937

After the publication of “Field of Shadows” Author Dan Waddell will be signing copies from 12 noon today in the Graeme Hick Pavilion. Members and non-members welcome.

Copies are priced at £16.99

Dan Waddell

The true story of a moment of sporting history, when an English cricket team took on Nazi Germany in the months leading up to WWII.

The account of the Gentlemen of Worcestershire’s cricket tour of Berlin in August 1937 is a tale of triumph, of civility over barbarity and hope over despair, but also of the enduring beauty and calm of cricket set in contrast to the fear and brutality of a regime gearing up for war.

Berlin 1937: Hitler viewed cricket as a decadent and un-German sport. But somehow, fanatical cricket lover Felix Menzel persuaded the Nazi leaders to invite a crack English side to play his modest band of part time cricketers.

The Gentlemen of Worcestershire were the ill-matched group of Englishmen who were to go out to Berlin, led by former Worcestershire County Cricket Club captain Maurice Jewell, and ordered ‘not to lose’ by the MCC.

Jewell’s side played three unofficial Test matches against a backdrop of repression, brutality and rising tensions, but despite the shadow being cast by the cataclysmic events which were to follow, the tour proved to be a memorable and remarkable experience for the Englishmen and their German counterparts. It was ten days in which, for those taking part, the politics and tensions faded into the background, and the world was once more a place of sporting passion and good natured camaraderie.

‘Cricket is a spell; whatever our worries, whatever ails us, it all recedes when we’re on

the pitch. Standing there, with the sun on your back, watching this occasionally thrilling,

sometimes dull, always compelling game unfold in front of you, the world and its problems

can seem a million miles away.’

Two years later and many of those involved in the series were engulfed by war. Men such as Captain Robin Whetherly, who served as a special ops agent, and the heroic Peter Huntington-Whiteley, great-great uncle of model Rosie, who led the secret assault unit created by Ian Fleming.

Perhaps most remarkable of all was Felix Menzel, a cricket obsessive for the ages. A man who risked life and limb to play cricket under the Nazis and, when the war was done, wandered from the rubble of Berlin with the surviving members of his team to ask a group of astonished English soldiers for a game.

Dan Waddell is a journalist, novelist and author of more than a dozen works of non-ficiton. His first crime novel, The Blood Detective, was nominated for three debut awards, including the celebrated CWA New Blood Dagger, and has been published in five countries. He is also the author of the bestselling guide that accompanied the award-winning BBC TV series, Who Do You Think You Are?

An exiled Yorkshireman, Dan has been a cricket fanatic all his life. He was a talented junior batsman, played representative cricket for Yorkshire and was even one, briefly, on the payroll of the county club itself. After being lost to journalism for several years, he made a misguided comeback and now captains Acton 2nd XI in the Middlesex County League where, in between taking painkillers, he tries and fails to pass on sage advice to young players. He covered county cricket for two seasons for the Daily Telegraph and his first published book was the history of BBC TV’s cricket coverage , And Welcome to the Highlights, where he got to interview David Gower, Richie Benaud and his boyhood hero, Geoffrey Boycott. It has been downhill ever since…

For further information or to request a review copy please contact:

Laura Sherlock |