New Zealand Croatia, a side comprising New Zealand cricketers of Croatian origin, are scheduled to embark on their maiden cricket tour to the Cook Islands. The side will participate in a tri-series against the senior and Under-19 sides of Cook Islands between August 12 and August 16.
Joseph Yovich, an opening batsman for Northern Districts and one of the founding members of the New Zealand Croatia side, said the tour was an opportunity for cricketers to discover links to Croatia's cricketing history.
"New Zealand Croatia is distinct from the Croatia national team, and creates another great opportunity for cricketers with Croatian heritage in New Zealand to unite, to learn more about the 200-year history of the game in Croatia, and the link it has with New Zealand," cricketer Joseph Yovich said. "It will strengthen those bonds within the game and, at the same time, we'll be helping develop cricket in the Cook Islands - an ICC Affiliate member - which has very strong links to New Zealand, and particularly Northern Districts, which assists with coaching and resources in the islands."
Cricket was introduced to Croatia when British soldiers established a base during the Napeolonic Wars (1803-1815). Interest in the game dwindled but a few Australian and New Zealand cricketers, who returned to the country in the late 1990s, worked at reviving interest in the game. Croatia became an Affiliate Member in 2001 and has since hosted different touring sides, including the MCC squad in 2009.
The New Zealand Croatia squad to the Cook Islands features four New Zealand-based players who have been involved in cricket development in Croatia: current Croatia internationals Paul and John Vujnovich (the current Croatia captain), Anthony Govorko and former international Anton Vujcich. Anton Devcich is unavailable due to his New Zealand A commitments, while Dusan Hakaraia and Michael Ravlic are also missing out.
New Zealand Croatia will also visit schools and promote women's cricket as well as the game's development at the grassroots level on their tour.
New Zealand Croatia squad: Matthew Adsett, John Arnerich, Brad Bennetto, Anthony Govorko, Daniel Marsic, James Piskulic, Matthew Vujcich, Anton Vujcich, John Vujnovich, Paul Vujnovich, Joseph Yovich.