Migrant stories, a multi-millionaire and the Tinder date – the rise of...

Migrant stories, a multi-millionaire and the Tinder date – the rise of German cricket


Somewhere along the border that separates Turkey and Bulgaria, Abdul Shakoor lost his way.

A trek that should have taken two days ran into six or seven. He can’t remember exactly how many, probably because he was starving and thirsty.

He had already done a similar journey before, walking 48 hours from Iran to Turkey. He was 15 years old.

Shakoor left his home in Peshawar, northern Pakistan, with the dream of reaching England. He paid $2,000, money he got from relatives, to what he calls an agent. That was the price of reaching Turkey.

More money was needed to travel across Europe. When he finally got to Bulgaria, avoiding police that would not hesitate to fire on him, he moved on through Serbia, Hungary and Austria.

In Austria, he received word from friends who were already in England that caused him to rethink his plans. Germany would provide a warmer welcome, they said. He should go there instead.

On arriving in Germany, Shakoor had the clothes he was wearing, about 100 euros in cash and a mobile phone. Nothing else.

Now, five years on, he is the opening batsman in the national team of one of the fastest-growing cricketing nations on the planet.

Short presentational grey line
Even the darkest clouds can have a silver lining.

As Britain is gripped by the coronavirus pandemic, hearts have been warmed by Captain Tom Moore walking laps of his garden. Nine months after the 9/11 attacks, ante-natal classes in New York were said to be swamped by expectant mothers.

In 2015, millions of people fled Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, other parts of Asia and Africa. Some were escaping war, other years of violence. Some were just looking for what they hoped would be a better life.

Around one million refugees and migrants ended up in Germany. One estimate is that about 180,000 were Afghans, the vast majority of whom were male and under the age of 30. In other words, cricket fans and players in a nation where the sport has never been a natural fit.

Still, it is cricket that has helped these men settle in a country where they knew little of the language, culture or heritage. As a result, the German game is on the rise, primed to make a mark on the world stage.