High hopes for Israel at ICC Championships
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The Israel national team departs for Corfu on Sunday, ahead of the ICC Europe Division Two Championships which take place from September 3-8.
Israel, relegated from Division One after a poor tournament last year, will have their eyes on a top two finish in the 12-nation championships, and promotion back up to the elite division.
Grouped along with Estonia, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal and Spain, who are expected to pose the strongest challenge, Israel will be aiming for a top two finish in their group, and then winning a semi-final match, scheduled for next Friday, against one of the top two teams from the other group, which would guarantee a top two finish.
Group B consists of Croatia, Cyprus, Finland, Isle of Man, Sweden and the hosts, whose squad includes former South African wicket keeper Nic Pothas, the most high-profile player in the tournament.
The Israel squad is captained once again by Herschel Gutman. It is a combination of experience - Raymond Aston, Yefet Nagavkar and Steven Shein have all been involved with the national team for over a decade - and youth, with youngsters such as Josh Evans, Shifron Waskar and Gabi Schachat all under the age of 20, middle order batsmen Danny Hotz and Eshkol Solomon will be expected to provide the bulk of the runs, whilst all-rounder Yaniv Razpurker, a free-scoring middle order batsmen and medium fast bowler, has another chance to convert his undoubted talent and domestic form to the international stage where he has often underperformed.
Israel will have two quick bowlers spearheading their attack, in Sri Lankan-born Kapila Perere and left-armer Gerrit Grundling, both making their debuts for Israel on the European stage.
Although the 20-over format of the tournament is still relatively new to the team, they certainly depart better prepared than last year after intensive preparation over recent months. The squad is well balanced with a number of all-rounders ensuring a long batting line up and plenty of bowling options.
In addition, former Dutch captain Roland Lefebvre, one of the leading coaches in Europe, will accompany the team as coach to lend his experience and advice.
Israel opens their campaign against Luxembourg on Monday afternoon, meet Malta on Tuesday morning, having a double-header against Spain and Portugal, probably expected to provide the toughest challenges in the group stage, on Wednesday before playing Estonia on Thursday.
The Israel squad will be accompanied by manager Joey Tal and scorer Norman Sankar, whilst Raymond Waskar will officiate in the tournament as an umpire, making a unique combination with his son Shifron.
Israel Squad: Herschel Gutman (Lod Rangers, Captain), Raymond Aston (Young Ashdod), Shailesh Bangera (Lions Lod), Josh Evans (Ra'anana), Gerrit Grundling (Ra'anana), Danny Hotz (Ra'anana), Daniel Hyman (Ra'anana), Yefet Nagavkar (Lions Lod), Kapila Perere (Young Ashdod), Yaniv Razpurker (Neve Yonatan), Gabi Schachat (Ra'anana), Steven Shein (Ra'anana), Shifron Waskar (Lions Be'er Sheva). Joey Tal (Manager), Roland Lefebvre (Coach), Norman Sankar (Israel), Raymond Waskar (Umpire).