While the main focus of the Jewish cricket season is the Maccabiah squads travelling to Israel in July, a number of teams in London will be looking to show their quality.
Fielding two senior XIs and a thriving colts section, London Maccabi Vale (LMV) will be the hardest hit of any Jewish cricket team with players involved at the Games. Adam Brand, Jerome Colmans, Richard Black, Andrew Daniels and Ryan Kangisser, along with juniors Andrew Greenwall Cohen, Joseph Greenwall Cohen and Daniel Cohen are away for the first half of the season.
LMV 1st visit Harrow Town in the Cricket Confederation Cup (CCC) on May 10 before starting their challenge in Division One of the Middlesex Sunday League. They finished second last year.
A number of important players departed Belmont & Edgware over the winter meaning that 2009 will be a season of transition for Belmont & Edgware. New first team captain Michael Blasebalk has placed the emphasis on developing the current talent.
Winter signings include Alex Ziff, Jamie Fellow and Ryan Resnick. Blasebalk said: “Keep an eye on John Evans, Daniel Geey and Joel Phillips.” Ryan Monk takes over the reins as the second team captain.
The reformatted Maccabi Sunday Cricket League, starting on May 10, will feature five teams. Defending champions MAL will contest the tournament along with former winners Casual Nomads, Southgate, Belmont & Edgware and Chigwell & Hainault.
Barnet Synagogue have withdrawn from the league while Newlands and Northwood have gone on a season-long sabbatical. The league has yet to find a new sponsor after Stylo Barratts ended its association.
League chairman Richard Mitchell said: “We have reverted to a home and away format which, in my opinion, is what the league needed as it is the fairest way of deciding a league.
“Jewish cricket has mothballed at the moment but I would like to think that the indoor six-a-side, which has been scrapped due to spiralling costs, and Stuart Neils National Cup competition will return.
Following the treble-winning season, MAL are looking forward to the campaign with some relish. Sponsored by Camp Simcha, they must cope with the absence of a number of players on Maccabiah duty in a variety of sports, with youngsters Yoav Lebens, Avishai Kestenbaum, Gideon Caller and Jon Begner away for periods. Yoni Fidler, last season’s leading wicket-taker, will also be moving to Israel in June.
Skipper Gavriel Lebens will look to Mark Landau to anchor the batting and for “more of the same” from Grant Traub, Tony Wise, and Charlie Sherrard.
Based in Shenley, Casual Nomads have the potential to regain the league title it last won in 2007, but will need to improve on last year’s performance, particularly in the batting department, to be a strong challenger.
Stalwart Richard Ferrer takes over coin tossing responsibilities. He said: “We start the new season revitalised by the arrival of two new young bowlers who will beef up our seam attack, led by Rafi Polatinsky and Norman Marine. Our sights are firmly set on reclaiming the Maccabi League title.”
With Richard Mitchell, Jewish cricket’s longest-serving captain, at the helm, Southgate Synagogue are relishing the new season.
The club recently held its first annual supper quiz which, attended by 130 guests, raised funds for MDA and the team. Welcoming several new faces, Mitchell said: “We will be there or thereabouts in the title race.”
Downsiders were defeated in their opening fixture, but having lost just once last season, chairman Robert Silverstone believes that there is a “good nucleus of players who are available”.