November 19, 2007

European Championships

Croatia win European play-off

Martin Williamson

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.

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Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa

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Posted by Arjun Chaudhuri on (November 29, 2007, 8:50 GMT)

Croatia taking to the cricket field and defeating Israel in a One Day International cricket match, as they are expected do in football is interesting. Though the game wasn’t a high-scoring affair, the way it went down to the wire should do a world of good for boosting the game in the host nation, Israel.

With increasing number of teams being allowed to qualify for the ICC World Cup, it would be interesting to observe whether the Israeli cricket team can reach the World Cup finals before its football team can reach the FIFA World Cup finals.

As for Croatia, their qualification to European Division Two is definitely heartening, and they should strive best to continue their march forward. Matching their football feats in a hurry is likely to be difficult, but, in the long run, especially with the emergence of Twenty20 cricket, one has every reason to be hopeful.

In fact, the national governing bodies all emerging European cricketing should identify promising and serious players and send them to play English club cricket. Then on, they can look to learn more in the English county circuit. As it is, Dutch, Irish and Scottish cricket are evidently being benefited by their players featuring the English domestic cricket. A ready example is Dutch all-rounder Ryan ten Doeschate whose stint with Essex has certainly added finesse to his skills, so much so that he was shortlisted for ICC Associate ODI Player of the Year 2007.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Martin Williamson
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.

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