Field Of Shadows - Dan Waddell
Published by Bantam Press on 8th May 2014 at £16.99, in hardback. Ebook available.
Dan Waddell's Field of Shadows tells the true story of a moment of sporting history when an English cricket team played Nazi Germany on the eve of World War Two.
This account of the Gentlemen of Worcestershire's tour of Berlin in August 1937 tells a tale of triumph, of civility overcoming barbarity and hope over despaire as well as the enduring beauty and calm of the game set in contrast with the fer and brutality of a regime gearing up for war.
Although Hitler viewed cricket as a decadent and 'un-Geman' sport, he was persuaded by Felix Menzel to invite a crack English side to play their modest team of part-timers.
The Gentlemen of Worcestershire, led by the former Worcestershire CCC captain Maurice Jewell were ordered 'not to lose' by the MCC.
They played three unofficial Test matches against a backdrop of repression, brutality and rising tensions but the tour nevertheless proved to be a memorable and remarkable experience for the participants.
For 10 days, politics and tensions faded into the background and the world was once more a place of sporting passion and good natured camaraderie.
Two years later, many of those who played were fighting. Captain Robin Whetherly served as a special ops agent and Peter Huntington-Whiteley led the secret assault unit created by Ian Fleming.
And what of Menzel? Having risked life and limb to play cricket under the Nazis, at the end of the war he emerged from the rubble of Berlin with the surviving members of his team to ask an astonished group of 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.