One of the marquee matches of the 2019 ICC World Cup was between defending champions Australia and India at The Oval in London, and among the fans present was Liverpool FC legend Didi Hamann.
“It’s great to see Shikhar Dhawan make a hundred and to see two of the best teams at the World Cup is great,” told ICC in a small chat in the stands.
Hamann dodged a question about which bowlers from today’s generation he would like to face, but picked the likes of Jasprit Bumrah and Mitchell Starc as among the most dangerous.
“In Bumrah and Bhuvi India has two of the best fast bowlers. Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc for Australia have got express pace and Jofra Archer for England too.”
The German, who spent a considerable amount of time in England as a professional footballer thinks the hosts will make the semi-finals.
“I think Australia have the best team here, but think England, Australia and India will be in the semi-finals and after that it’s a one-off game and anything can happen. But one of India and Australia will make the final.”
The former midfielder also remarked about the lack of Australian fans at the Oval.
“I expected a few more Australians here, but it is a sea of blue and 99% of the ground has Indians. It’s great to see the passion among the fans.”
This is not the former Liverpool man’s first tryst with cricket, and admits to having enjoyed an ODI game in the winter at the Sydney Cricket Ground between India and Australia.
“The World Cup always has a special atmosphere and it is different from Anfield because that’s a domestic league. What makes sport great is the passionate fans.”
In fact, Hamann was first introduced to cricket back in 1998 when he moved to Newcastle United from Bayern Munich.
“Wasn’t aware about cricket when in Germany, but of course now there is a team with mostly expats. I got to know about the game at Newcastle because we trained next to Durham’s ground. So when I saw the players bowl and bat, it was unbelievable.”
Hamann’s next engagement with cricket was when he moved to Liverpool.
“Then I met Andrew Flintoff three years later and he took me to the nets in Lancashire and I faced a few deliveries of the bowkling machine and that’s when I realised what these guys do. The hand eye co-ordination when somebody bowls at 90mph is absolutely unbelievable.”
“I’ve the utmost respect for these guys.”