Croatia win European play-off
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 Africa