Herschel Gutman and Clint Rubin provide the latest round-up and analysis from the Israel Night Cricket League.
"When shall we three meet again?
In thunder, lightning or in rain?
When the hurly-burly's done,
When the battle's lost and won ..."
Who would have taken Shakespeare for a prophet but surely he must have been referring to this week's cricketing fixtures? It just doesn't get better than this - a three-way fight to determine which two teams snatch the automatic semi-final berths.
The Yagod Morris Cricket Club 'A' have a potentially make or break weekend as they play out the remaining three matches over a two-day period, starting Thursday evening and finishing on Saturday evening. They will he hoping to pick up enough points to secure the all-important top two spot.
YMCA captain Brett Hickson, who declined to comment on the upcoming matches, is undoubtedly focusing on doing the job on the court rather than giving any of his pre-match thoughts.
First his troops come up against Jason Bloom's Kiddush Club Jerusalem - a team that started the season with six consecutive wins and are now sitting on seven wins from eight and in fifth spot on the table. The Kiddush Club have a relatively easy match to start off their evening, against a very young Bet Shemesh Braves, so they should be in third spot, with YMCA down to fifth before their game starts.
"Bloom said: "After much preparation and training we feel we are ready for our double-header this week and will certainly use our first game against the Braves to help get our eye in before taking on YMCA." He also joked that due to the composition of his side, (mixed with ex-South Africans and ex-Australians,) that after a huge SA vs AUS test series thus far, ' we as Team KCJ will have to put our banter aside in order to get on as a victorious team again!"
Pearl Dental, who are currently clinging on to that second place in the standings, come up against YMCA. Pearl will know that a loss to Brett Hickson's YMCA, will rule them out of a top two finish and in order to qualify for the finals, will have to go through a tricky quarter-final. This will be an intriguing match as while the Pearl Dental players are vastly experienced in this format and a very street-wise cricket side, YMCA have some potential match-winners in their ranks and Hickson will be hoping that that his key men hit their straps over the weekend.
Pearl Dental captain, Iain Levy is looking forward to the challenge saying that "as we get to the 'business' end of the season, these are the games our boys have been waiting for. We know as the Champions the last three years running, that everyone is looking to beat us, but I am confident that our team will rise to the occasion, as we have done in the past. There are no second chances and I know everyone who wears the Pearl Dental shirt is ready for the challenge."
The Mumbai Challengers, who currently occupy top spot after winning their last three league games, could drop to fourth on the table if results don't go their way this week. Victory over Gold Insurance (113-37), Ra'anana Raiders (152-62) and the Bet Shemesh Royals (109-50) enabled a fine end to their league matches by a team who are very new to this format. A mark of their victories has been the good running between the wickets and the excellent fielding. Should they drop out the top two, they will provide their quarter-final opponents with a few sleepless nights.
The Bet Shemesh derby between KAT Israemploy and Gold Insurance produced an entertaining and high-scoring game with KAT 115 prevailing by 31 runs. Garth Kaufmann with three wickets for KAT was the pick of the bowlers. Pommeranz, who secured a shock victory over Pearl Dental a few weeks ago, made it two in a row with a last-ball victory over the Bet Shemesh Royals (77-75). Chovav Wigman, with three wickets for the Royals, performed very well.
The Yagod Morris Cricket Club 'Beeeeees' secured their first victory of the season, albeit a hard fought one against the young boys in the league, the Bet Shemesh Braves (85-76). Credit must go to all their players who have performed admirably this season, but without much luck.
YMCA's resident opening batsmen and team poet, Clint Rubin, is urging every cricket-loving Israeli to attend the upcoming matches, with a few words of his own ...
"Can YMCA outplay KCJ and deal them a perilous blow?
Then will Pearl unfurl them on Saturday night? Only the cricketing gods know.
Come along for all the excitement you certainly won't leave disappointed.
Ti's the season to be jolly 'cos a new champ will ultimately be anointed."
Kiddush Club Jerusalem take on Bet Shemesh Braves at 7:15pm on Thursday followed by a match against the Yagod Morris Cricket Club 'A' scheduled for 8:45pm. On Saturday evening, the YMCA kick off their double-header at 7:15pm against the Bet Shemesh Royals before playing in the crucial match at 8:45pm against Pearl Dental Cricket Club.