Home > Features >

Cricket in Israel: A harbinger of peace and harmony in the troubled region

Cricket in Israel: A harbinger of peace and harmony in the troubled region

Amidst all the tight security and tensions bubbling in the region, cricket in Israel has slowly, but steadily, been gaining a foothold in Israel © Getty Images

By Bharath Ramaraj
 
Israel is a country made up of diverse conditions: with a desert in the south and snow-capped mountains in the north. Unfortunately, the region is also known for never-ending conflicts with Palestine. In short, it is a region that is invariably under incessant threat of wars.
 
Amidst all the tight security and tensions bubbling in the region, cricket in Israel has slowly, but steadily, been gaining a foothold in the country. Compared to football and basketball, cricket is relatively a minor sport. But make no mistake, locals and expats are straining every sinew to make it more popular.
 
Just like in most countries, cricket was first introduced to Israel by the British in the early 19th century. To an extent, those few locals who lapped up the sport manfully tried to keep the interest in the game afloat. With the influx of Jewish immigrants from cricket playing countries like South Africa, United Kingdom and Indian subcontinent, it gave the game the much needed fillip.
 
It was in 1974 when Israel became an associate member of International Cricket Council (ICC). Since then, they have gone onto play the ICC Trophy seven times albeit with little success. In the 1997 ICC Trophy played in Malaysia, they were in midst of unwanted media glare, as Malaysia don’t recognise Israel as a country. In spite of protests, they did participate in the tournament and finished in the 21st place.
 
Israel geographically belongs to Asian continent, but because of never-ending conflicts in West Asia, the ICC allocated Israel to Europe. Since 1996, they have largely played in the second division of European one-day championships. Their best performance in European championships was a laudable fifth place finish in 2000 as well in 2010.
 
In 2006, when the Second Division European Championship was held in Glasgow, they were again met with violent protests. Even one of their games against Jersey was cancelled and their play-off matches were shifted to RAF Lossiemouth.
 
The seriousness of the situation was such that European Cricket Council (ECC) had to come out with a statement that read, “The ECC and its parent body, the International Cricket Council (ICC), are not political organisations; the task of both bodies is to promote and encourage cricket, a game that embraces diversity, and that mission is the driving force behind this tournament. Both the ECC and the ICC believe this tournament can send out a positive message by showing the value of sport as a force for good and something to be enjoyed.”
 
Israel is certainly a true embodiment of an immigration country with Jews from all over the world streaming back into the land of their birth. It has resulted in an amalgamation of amateur cricketers mainly from South Africa, Eastern Europe and Indian subcontinent playing the game in Israel just for the sheer love of it.
 
Israel’s premier domestic competition is comprised of a compendium of 18 teams from every nook and corner of the country. It is run on a league basis and spread across two divisions. Nowadays, they also play a T20 tournament.
 
Over the years, Lions Lod has been the team to beat in the domestic circuit. Last year, they regained their indefatigable stamp of supremacy after three years of agonising wait by bestriding the defending champion, Young Ashdod to lift the coveted Dudi Silbowitz Trophy.
 
Israel’s youth development programme is bearing fruits too. For a cricket observer, it is heartening to know that the game is played as part of the curriculum in numerous elementary schools in Israel.
 
The fast-medium bowler, Herschel Gutman, is the present captain of Israel. The seasoned campaigner, originally from the Rainbow Nation, also doubles up as a development officer of Israel’s cricket association. His effervescent endeavours as the development officer helped him to win the ICC European Coach of the Year award in 2013.
 
The precociously talented young all-rounder, Josh Evans, achieved the memorable distinction of being voted the most valuable player in European Under-19 Division Two Championship, held in the year 2011.
 
A hard-hitting belligerent batsman, Evans gave a glimpse of his cricketing skills by bludgeoning a quick-fire half century in the third place play-off against Spain in the European T20 Division Two Championships last year. In that tournament against Isle of Man, the fledgling all-rounder bowled a parsimonious spell of leg-spin and snared three crucial wickets in the process.
 
Cricket has also been the harbinger of peace and harmony in the troubled region. To bring about peace and tranquillity, a novel concept called Cricket 4 Peace has been initiated. This novel concept vision is to bring together Israeli and Palestinian children from disadvantaged communities under one emblem, and teach them the wonderful game of cricket. The project has been successful in its endeavour of inculcating the old virtues of peace and harmony.
 
For an aficionado of the game, it is awe-inspiring to note that in spite of severe odds stacked against them, a dedicated bunch of cricket enthusiasts with undying love for the game and an unstinting service to its cause, have pushed the envelope of possibility by creating a bit of buzz for cricket in the troubled region.
 
(Bharath Ramaraj, an MBA in marketing, eats, drinks and sleeps cricket. He has played at school and college-level, and now channelises his passion for the game by writing about it)

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 20, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at Kolkata

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Dubai

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (19:00 IST)   at Cuttack

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 24, 2014 (03:00 IST)   at Mount Maunganui

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Oct 25, 2014 (09:00 IST)   at Dhaka

More

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 21, 2014  at Mount Maunganui

South Africa won by 6 wkts

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 17, 2014  at Dharamsala

India won by 59 runs

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 14, 2014  at Visakhapatnam

Match cancelled

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 12, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

Australia won by 1 run

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 11, 2014  at Delhi

India won by 48 runs

Photos

Pakistan vs Australia, 1st Test at Dubai

Videos

AB de Villiers praises team after win in 1st ODI

Saeed Ajmal’s action to be assessed after two more weeks of remedial work under Saqlain Mushtaq

Pakistan vs Australia, 1st Test, Day 1 highlights: Younis Khan’s ton, Mitchell Johnson’s riveting spell

Steve O’Keefe and other Test cricketers with apostrophes in their surnames

Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Geoff Marsh and other Father-Son trios to have played Test cricket

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Why did Mohammad Hafeez go for a shocking review?

Australia Australia tour of UAE 2014 Australia vs Pakistan Australia vs Pakistan 2014 India New Zealand New Zealand vs South Africa New Zealand vs South Africa 2014 Pakistan Pakistan vs Australia Pakistan vs Australia 2014 South Africa South Africa tour of New Zealand 2014 South Africa vs New Zealand South Africa vs New Zealand 2014

Saeed Ajmal’s action to be assessed after two more weeks of remedial work under Saqlain Mushtaq

Nepal to host world’s first blind women’s cricket series

All India Public Sector Cricket Tournament to be held in Mumbai

Mitchell Johnson: We need to use new ball well tomorrow

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Younis Khan proud at scoring record 25th Test ton

South Africa vs New Zealand 2014: Vital for Brendon McCullum to find form quickly

Younis Khan: First Pakistani and 12th overall to score a century against all 9 Test nations

Pakistan vs Australia, 1st Test, Day 1 highlights: Younis Khan’s ton, Mitchell Johnson’s riveting spell

Younis Khan becomes first Pakistan batsman to score a ton against each of the Test-playing nations

Steve O’Keefe and other Test cricketers with apostrophes in their surnames

Fan of the Day

Suraj Gowda

Suraj Gowda

642 Posts | 9 Fans

Virat Kohli's Family Meets Anushka Sharma

अभिनेत्री हुमा कुरैशी ओरिफ्लेम की ब्रांड एंबेसडर

Has Bigg Boss 8 made Karishma Tanna the most hated person?

Pranab Mukherjee returns home after visit to Norway, Finland

Revealed: First look of Amitabh Bachchan-Farhan Akhtar’s Do!

7 reasons why having sex during pregnancy is great for your health

Videocon Infinium Graphite with gesture control feature launched, priced at Rs 10,499

Rupee up 19 paise against dollar in early trade

Twitter introduces Audio Cards to listen to music directly from your timeline

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here