Despite not being one of the most popular sports outside the Commonwealth, cricket has been an enormous success over the years at the Maccabiah Games.
This year, there are six nations competing in the Open’s category for the first time in Maccabiah history and three taking part in the junior competition. The sport has seen enormous growth throughout Israel in the past 30 years — with the help of the Israel Cricket Association.
Arguably one of the toughest mental sports in the Maccabiah, each game lasts about eight hours. The players get a break for drinks every hour and, in the middle of the day, they pause for a lunch break.
With six nations in the tournament (United Kingdom, India, Israel, South Africa, Australia and Canada), the top four will battle it out for the medals. The teams will compete in a round robin and will receive two points for each victory. The teams with the most points will face off in the medal rounds.
According to the experts in charge of the tournament, this year’s favorites are India, South Africa and Australia.
One of the main reasons that India has sent a cricket delegation to this year’s games — as well as to those in previous years — is the head of the Indian delegation, Samuel Marshall. He’s been involved with the Maccabiah since 1957 and has participated in six games. He said that, over the years, he has seen the “Jewish Olympics” flourish.
“In 1957 we were staying in tents in Ramat Gan. I have seen it [the Maccabiah] grow enormously … the spirit of rivalry, and the fact that we have over taken political events, the fact that the Jew was able to move and transit with freedom is very important to the development,” Marshall told The Times of Israel.
After having quadruple bypass surgery, overcoming cancer, and losing his close friend, the rabbi of Chabad in Mumbai — in the 2008 terror attack — Marshall is simply trying to enjoy life. “By the time I am 101, I will have competed in 10 Maccabiah Games,” Marshall quipped.
Michael Ziff, the chairman of Maccabiah Great Britain, has also been a huge supporter of Israel cricket. Ziff believes that the man who has helped the sport develop and expand throughout the years in Israel is Israel Cricket Chairman Stanley Perlman.
“Israeli cricket has come on immensely in terms of the whole responsibility it has taken, its achievements, the work it has done with Palestinians and Bedouins. This has been recognized by ICC (International Cricket Council). And it would not have happened without Stanley’s vision and dedicated work,” said Ziff.
To check out Cricket’s open and junior Schedule, visit the Maccabiah website
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