Revamped Israel gear up for Division Three
Israel will be looking for a return from its development programme when its European Division Three campaign kicks off today against Belgium in La Manga, Spain. Demoted from Division Two in 2007 after losing a play-off to Croatia, Israel has made major changes to ensure its stay in the third tier of European non-Test countries is a short one.
"More than half the squad consists of players that have come through the Youth Development Program and I feel that this is the right time to change things around," Herschel Gutman, Israel’s captain-coach said. Gutman has spent time with South Western Districts in South Africa.
Among those promoted is Gabi Schachat, who recently hit the first century by an Israeli on foreign soil at the European Under-19 Division Two titles.
Opener Sabania Nagavkar, who emigrated to Israel as a 10-year-old, got involved in cricket as part of the adjustment to his new country, which he has represented in cricket at all age groups, including the adult level at the recent Maccabi Games.
Nagavbar is in the Israeli Air Force, and like many of his team-mates, cannot get to practice very often due to national service commitments. It is this lack of opportunity to train together which Gutman, who was also a nets coach at the MCC, cites as one of the main obstacles in the team's preparations for this tournament.
The side did at least get five games together in winning the Bronze Medal at the Maccabi Games and 11 of the players which played in that tournament will be in Spain.
In the other games today, Portugal play Isle of Man while the hosts and 2006 runners-up, Spain take on Malta.
The tournament winner meets Croatia in a play-off for a place in next year Division Two event.
Israel squad: Herschel Gutman (capt), Shailesh Bangera, Safania Nagavkar, Gabi Schachat, Nir Dokarkar, Eliezer Samson, Isaac Talkar, Eshkol Solomon, Yaniv Razpurker, Dovi Myers, Adrian Vard, Raymond Aston, David Massil, Steven Shein
Further information regarding the tournament can be found on its website http://www.icc-europe.org/EURODIV3/index.shtml
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo