The Israel national team was set to depart for Corfu on Sunday, ahead of the International Cricket Council Europe Division 2 Championships which take place from September 3 to 8.
Israel, relegated from Division 1 after a poor tournament last year, is seeking a top two finish in the 12-nation championships, and promotion back up to the elite division.
Israel is grouped along with Estonia, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal and Spain, who are expected to pose the strongest challenge. 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.
Israel will be aiming for a top two finish in its group, and would then need to win a semi-final match, scheduled for next Friday, against one of the top two teams from the other group, to guarantee a top two finish.
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. Youngsters such as Josh Evans, Shifron Waskar and Gabi Schachat are all under the age of 20.
Middle order batsmen Danny Hotz and Eshkol Solomon will be expected to provide the bulk of the runs, while 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 its 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, the players 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 its campaign against Luxembourg on Monday afternoon, meets Malta on Tuesday morning, plays a double header against Spain and Portugal, probably expected to provide the toughest challenges in the group stage, on Wednesday, and faces 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.