Emburey bowled over in Israel
Former England captain John Emburey has praised the work of the Israel Cricket Association and its Cricket4Peace project following his first trip to the country.
Emburey hosted a group of 18 Conservative and Labour MPs, who toured the region and played matches against representative teams.
The delegation from the Lords and Commons Cricket Club visited Sderot before moving on to the Bedouin village of Hura, where cricket has in recent years passed football in popularity.
They watched a school match before taking part in a coaching session followed by lunch in a Bedouin tent.
Beersheva was the next stop for the ICA’s globally successful cross-border Cricket4Peace project involving Palestinian and Israeli youngsters.
Emburey said: "We were very impressed with what they’re doing in Hura and also in Beer Sheva. It’s great that they’re trying to bring children together through sport."
It was then the turn of the MPs to play and they took on the ICA’s chairman’s XI, captained by Stanley Perlman.
The home team featured former Israeli captains Hillel Awaskar, Alon Moss and Steven Shein, as well as current skipper Herschel Gutman.
Gabi Schachat scored an excellent 105 while Yaniv Razpurker produced a brutal assault on the visiting bowlers to smash a 25-ball 91 not out as the Chairman’s Xl finished on 305-6 from 30 overs. Emburey, 60, rolled back the years with two sharp catches in the field.
The tourists managed 146-7 in reply and they went down by 85 runs against ICA champions Young Ashdod a day later.
Emburey said: "Israel has ideal weather to play cricket in and we came up against some very good young players. We stayed in Tel Aviv which was very nice and the people were very friendly and caring towards us.
"The Flix pitch at National stadium played a lot better than I expected it to, with a little bit of uneven bounce, while the wicket in Ashdod was pretty bouncy.
"I can see myself returning to Israel, both for a holiday and to play cricket."
The LCCC, who also visited Yad Vashem and attended a reception with UK Ambassador Matthew Gould, donated cricket equipment to the ICA which will be used to continue the work that is taking place in the youth centres around Israel.
Perlman said: "The MPs were the most wonderful visitors we’ve had since my involvement with Israeli cricket began.
"They were exemplary ambassadors for their country and are welcome back any time.
"It was great to see the youngsters listening to John Emburey. I know the group had an unbelievable time and I’m sure it won’t be long before they return."
Tour organiser Nigel Adams commented: "Hopefully our visit helped to promote the peace initiative, which shows that sport can bring communities together. To see Israelis and Palestinians playing together was very inspiring.
"The ICA has some very fine cricketers and the hospitality was first-class. We hope to visit again in the future."