ECC Representative Festival: Zagreb Cricket Club

Considering this is the first ever appearance of a Croatian national cricket team in any shape or form, it will be difficult to predict an outcome as far as Croatia is concerned. Unfortunately Zagreb CC lost their first round match in the Austrian Trophy Competition to Vienna CC by five wickets, and that was the only real competative match this year. During the remainder of the season crickters in Croatia have been reduced to playing friendlies against Ljubljana and domestic matches in difficult conditions.

Croatia will travel to the tournament in Vienna with 15 players and an official scorer, which means a squad of 16. The core of the national team will be provided by Zagreb CC.

The Croatian bowling attack in Vienna will be spearheaded by right-arm fast bowler Robert Vidakovi . Vidakovi has played at club cricket level in Sydney and is fully committed to playing for the Croatian national team. He has the ability to both swing and cut the ball and will definately be a handful for the best of batsmen. Vidakovi will have strong support from the Zagreb CC medium pace quartet of Ivan Bili (c), Marko Ivkovi , Jasen Butkovi and Miro Bili . Danny Scott (when not keeping) is also a handy bowler.

Batting however is a department that could cause headaques for Croatia. While Zagreb CC bowlers have had relatively good success in restricting batsmen against all opposition, the batsmen have frequently struggled. In the batting department a lot will depend on openers Zdenko Leko (v.c.) and Joe Juri (wicket-keeper-opener). If they can provide a solid start then batsmen such as Frank Matijasko especially can be very aggressive. Nediljko Ivkovi , Robert Duman i and Tony Lesar will also be hoping to build on momentum and will be looking to be amongst the runs.

The real strength for Croatia however could come from the Vujnovi brothers. Both John and Paul Vujnovi have played cricket in Auckland and will be a big boost to the Croatian National Cricket Team. John Vujnovi is an excellent opening batsman and is a right-arm medium fast bowler. His brother Paul is a LH top order batsman and a specialist slips fielder.

Croatia will be travelling to Vienna hoping to do well and generate much needed media exposure at home. If Croatia were to do well at the tournament it could be a way of opening the public eye in Croatia and generating even greater interest in the sport. Norway and Austria may be a tall order for Croatia at this point in time, but Slovenia and Finland are opposition that Croatia is hoping to match.

One area in which the Croatian team will differ from the others in that every single person in the squad with the exception of Danny Scott has Croatian citizenship. Danny in any case has been living in Croatia for five years and will be settling down with his Croatian girlfriend. Considering the squad is pretty young in relation to others (ages span from 22-34) it means that this will be a huge experience for the Croatian National Cricket Team, which hopes to be involved in similar tournaments in the future.

Croatian Team.