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Croatia defeated Israel by five runs in a play-off in Tel Aviv on Sunday to secure promotion to European Division Two.
In the first cricket international to be held in Israel, Croatia batted first and made 152 for 7, the innings underpinned by 51 from their captain, John Vujnovich.
In reply, Israel slumped to 7 for 3 before Isaac Massil and Herschel Gutman added 62 for the fourth wicket, but as they pushed for quick runs wickets fell. They were still up with an asking rate that kept below six an over, and with two overs remaining they needed 12 - and six off one - with their final pair at the wicket. But Croatia took that wicket to secure promotion.
“The significance for Israeli cricket is amazing,” said Stanley Perlman, President of the Israel Cricket Association and captain for the historic match. “It was the first time that any country has come to play an international game of cricket in Israel and it was a great occasion. Our visitors from Croatia followed in the footsteps of their football and basketball teams who are regular visitors.
“The event was a huge success and we hope it is the start of more teams coming to play here in Israel."
Richard Holdsworth, the ICC regional development manager, who was also match referee, said: "The following and publicity this match has received is great news for the promotion of the game in Israel. Several hundred boys and girls watched the match live at the stadium, and many participated in a lunchtime cricket demonstration match.
"The future of the game is about these young people, and they were thrilled with their experience of being part of the first ever international match played in Israel".
Croatia now head to Guernsey in July 2008 for the Division Two event while Israel head back to Division Three.
Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and AfricaFeeds: Martin Williamson
© ESPN EMEA Ltd.
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Executive editor Martin Williamson joined the Wisden website in its planning stages in 2001 after failing to make his millions in the internet boom when managing editor of Sportal. Before that he was in charge of Sky Sports Online and helped launch and run Sky News Online. With a preference for all things old (except his wife and children), he has recently confounded colleagues by displaying an uncharacteristic fondness for Twenty20 cricket. His enthusiasm for the game is sadly not matched by his ability, but he remains convinced that he might be a late developer and perseveres in the hope of an England call-up with his middle-order batting and non-spinning offbreaks. He is now managing editor of ESPN EMEA Digital Group as well as his Cricinfo responsibilities.