We need stars who will bowl us over, say Team GB selectors

The search to find the best quality Jewish cricketers in the country has begun. Team Great Britain cricket Maccabiah co-chairmen Michael Ziff and Neil Myeroff are hoping to unearth players capable of bringing home medals from three competitions at next summer’s Jewish Olympics in Israel.

Following the success of Nigel Rothband’s open squad, who took the bronze at the 2005 event, the pair hope that the junior squad and first veterans delegation can shine.

Since GB started sending cricket squads to the competition in 1973, they have returned with three silver medals and two bronze.

Ziff said: “We are looking for good standard Saturday league cricketers who must remember that they are representing their country in Israel and must maintain high standards on and off the pitch.

“The 2005 games were the first I have attended and it was one of the highlights of my life. The opening ceremony was a really special occasion.”

Acknowledging that the delegation still required a junior coach, Ziff added: “I do not think that our players were well-prepared enough fitness wise last time. If you prepare yourself physically, you prepare yourself mentally. The GB youth squad enjoyed a really good camaraderie with Australia last time. It is a great opportunity to meet fellow Jews from across the world. “Five teams are expected to contest the open tournament with England lining up against defending champions South Africa, runners-up Australia, Israel and India. The junior tournament will feature South Africa, Australia and Israel with the veterans Twenty20 including South Africa and Australia.

A veteran of three Maccabiahs, Myeroff said: “Now is the time for any players not involved in Jewish cricket to get involved. One never gets tired of the opening ceremony. When watching the Olympics you dream about leading your team into the stadium behind your national flag, and here you have a chance to live the dream.

“South Africa and Australia generally bring better quality players than Great Britain. Some have played Test match or State cricket which is why we need to take high quality players.”

Winner of two silvers, Myeroff featured in the only GB team to have beaten Australia in 1977, that featured test match star Julien Wiener. He said: “It is not Maccabi cricket. It is another world. We do not have quality in depth but there is no doubt there are Jews playing for top quality clubs but are hiding their Jewishness. Our challenge is to find them. For the vast majority of boys, the Maccabiah Games is the highest standard they will ever play and we need more boys playing that level of cricket.”

Open manager Nigel Rothband said: “We had a very good time four years ago and the fact that we won a medal was all the more impressive given that we had a number of drop-outs. It was probably not the strongest team we have taken but we had a great spirit.”

Players expected to form the backbone of the team are fast bowler Darren Gerard, who captained the squad in 2005, Jeremy Mordrick of Woodford Wells, London Maccabi Vale batsman Adam Brand and new recruit, former Nottinghamshire CC 2nds player Mark Bott, now at Cambridge University.

Rothband said: “With two first-class players going and a couple more quality additions, I believe we can compete for gold. I believe we will be even better prepared this time and we must be very optimistic. We want to look at as many players as possible and take the strongest squad.”

For more information contact Michael Ziff 07712 867215 or Neil Myeroff 07771 833 874

Last updated: 2:05pm, June 8 2008