My cricket team came so close to winning gold and I am incredibly proud of the way we played and conducted ourselves over the 16 days in Israel. We played hard, we played fair and we played some damn good cricket.
Of all the sports at the Maccabiah, cricket is the toughest, in my opinion, as we play in 35-degree plus temperatures for up to eight hours, at facilities that are new to even the most seasoned player, especially playing five matches in eight days.
As a group, we talked about putting the weather and pitches out of our minds and controlling the controllables. But I remain frustrated on a personal level, that in 12 knocks at the Games, my top score is 24.
I was delighted with my three catches and being one of the most consistent performers in training. All my hard work preparing ensured I got through injury-free this time.
Our bowling unit of Benjamin Lederman, Marc Reingold, Steven Allweis, Simeon Cohen and Steven Reingold were our strength and we supported them superbly in the field, with some sharp catching. And I was delighted to see Neil Lederman overcome his shoulder injury to come good in the final. Our coach John Maunders and osteopath Yasmine Mizrahi were also key to our success.
We really bonded as a group and were close-knit throughout, showing real positivity at all times. I also felt that being in a Tel Aviv hotel, along with our netball team, rower and the South African cricketers kept spirits high. How those South Africans won having partied so hard, virtually every night, I will never know. Zac Elkin, Sean Kristal and Josh Datnow are top boys and true warriors.
Win or lose, we were in it together, celebrating victories and consoling one another in defeat and I just love the songs about Yoni Fingleson spraying his bowling to the left and to the right, as well as the one about Tinder king Colin Venter.
With cricket being a gentleman’s game, there are the drinking games and fines, not to mention the special Maccabiah parties. But I’ve been sworn to secrecy, having vowed what goes on tour, stays on tour … But well played Steven Reingold and Ben Kohler!
The netball girls did a fantastic job in winning silver, especially when you consider it was touch and go if they would actually get to Israel. They only starting training in March, but had real momentum going into the final. Losing to Australia was no disgrace. I was so happy for the likes of Hannah Rose-Phipson, Jess Pinnick and Katie Levy who loved the whole experience and never stopped smiling.
But it’s not just about the sport. The entire GB delegation embraced Israel and embraced the Maccabiah experience to the maximum. Yes there was some drunken debauchery and even some sober debauchery, but I enjoyed taking a back-seat, knowing I was in Israel to do my family and country proud.
The Games ended on a high, with the best closing ceremony I can remember. Hosted by model Bar Refaeli, it had a real wow-factor. Hopefully the organisers learnt from their big mistake at the opening ceremony, with a ridiculous wedding.
There was a really uplifting mood at the conclusion of an event that we just didn’t want to finish. The theme was “higher, better, together” — Israel, you did yourself proud.
Four years ago, I knew how much nachas representing my country at the Jewish Olympics gave to my father. He passed away in December 2013, so I dedicate my silver medal to him, along with my dear mum, wife and children.
Was this my last Maccabiah? Only time will tell, but the GB 40-plus brigade of Adam Brand, Marc Reingold, Hilton Nathanson and I have just under four years to decide whether or not we have one more in us. Maybe, just maybe ...