Steve Waugh (left) and twin brother Mark turned up for the Sydney Croatia football team during their youth © Getty Images
Steve Waugh (left) and twin brother Mark turned up for the Sydney Croatia football team during their youth © Getty Images


The FIFA World Cup 2014 kicks off on June 12 as Brazil take on Croatia. Nishad Pai Vaidya finds some Croatian connections with cricket.


The FIFA World Cup 2014 kicks-off June 12 — the start of a one-month period when the attention of the entire planet is focused on this quadrennial showpiece. This year, the glittering event kicks-off with the hosts Brazil taking on Croatia in the opening game at Sao Paulo.  The final will be played on July 13 at Rio de Janeiro, the birth place of former Indian Test cricketer Ashok Gandotra.


As a cricket fan, one can come up with numerous connections between cricket and football during this fiesta. Arunabha Sengupta, CricketCountry’s Chief Writer, has penned a series on the FIFA World Cup’s cricketing connection.


With a significant Croatian community in Australia, one is likely to find some cricketing link. Sydney United 58 Football Club was originally Sydney Croatia. Melbourne Knights FC is also Melbourne Croatia. Mark Viduka, the former Soceroos [Australian football team] captain played for Melbourne Croatia. But, what should interest cricket fans is that Steve Waugh and twin brother Mark Waugh turned up for the Sydney Croatia team during their youth. Then, there is Simon Katich, the former Australian opener, whose origins lie in Croatia.


On the other side of the Tasman Sea, Anton Devcich, the New Zealand one-day cricketer is from Croatian ancestry. In fact, there was a New Zealand Croatia cricket team, which toured the Cook Islands in 2013. Devcich was supposed to be a part of that side. However, he was in India representing New Zealand A. He then made it to the senior New Zealand side and has been a part of their one-day plans in the recent past.


But, let us talk about Croatia’s cricket team. Croatia Cricket’s website says that though the game was played in the country centuries ago, it also picked up momentum in the recent times. That is because of the Australian influence. With many Croats migrating to Australia, they had the exposure to the sport. The sport was then brought by them to the home country. Croatia became a member of the International Cricket Council (ICC) in 2001.


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(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_45)