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Cricket: Croatians keen for battle at Cobham Oval on Sunday

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

A free Twenty20 Northland Festival match will celebrate Northland’s cricketing heritage this Sunday 8 March at Whangarei’s Cobham Oval.

The 1pm match between The Cobham Club and New Zealand Croatia features a sweep of Northland cricket legends, first-class representatives in Joseph Yovich and Dusan Hakaraia - and several Kiwis who have represented Croatia at international ICC level in Europe in former Croatia captain John Vujnovich, Tony Govorko and coach Anton Vujcich.

The New Zealand Croatia team also includes Auckland rising stars Ben and Victor Lister. Ben, a young left-arm seamer, has been labelled ‘one to watch’ in Auckland premier cricket, where he represents Waitakere, while younger brother Victor has been starring with the bat for Liston College in Auckland schoolboy cricket.

New Zealand Croatia captain Yovich says both teams are deeply committed to helping younger players build their game and confidence by mixing with hardened, seasoned cricketers. "You can’t underestimate what it means to an 18-year-old to be testing himself against good players.

"We can all remember back to the days when we learned what it was really like at their level - your eyes are wide open and you learned so much even just from watching the way the top players went about their preparations, their thoughts and the way they conducted themselves in battle."

The game will also be a fun free spectacle for the Northland public, bringing together for the first time two sides that have "strong lineages and very deep pride in the north."

"It’s important to us to play a very competitive standard of cricket", Yovich added, "and we know that Cobham are very tough, and seldom lose. With the calibre of players on each side it’s going to be a good fight and a great experience for the up-and-comers in both teams."

Sponsored by fellow Northland success story Busck, New Zealand Croatia is coming off a tough loss last Sunday in Auckland to the New Zealand Cricket Players Association Masters - which saw them narrowly go down against a team stacked with former first-class players and Blackcaps. In three short years, the club has built an enviable calendar of regular national and international fixtures, which includes mentoring the Cook Islands national sides in Rarotonga in the off-season.

Yovich wants to hear from more players of Kiwi Croatian descent to add to the club’s burgeoning roster; the Cobham Club is meanwhile well known for fostering the local game around Northland since the 1970s, sharing their know-how with the grassroots of cricket and fund-raising to send two Northland-based players on UK cricketing development scholarships each year, as well as helping build and develop cricket facilities.

WHAT: New Zealand Croatia v The Cobham Club Twenty20 Northland Festival

WHERE: Cobham Oval, Whangarei

WHEN: 1pm, this Sunday 8 February


New Zealand Croatia

Joseph Yovich (captain), Craig Borich, Dusan Hakaraia, Temapare Hodson, Anthony Govorko (w), Ben Lister, Victor Lister, Daniel Marsic, James Piskulic, Dane Watson, Matthew Vujcich, John Vujnovich.

Cobham Club

Tim Anderson (captain), Henry Cooper, Darron Goodwin, Brett Hood, Richard Johnson, Bradley Kneebone, Richie MacPherson, Kieran Nelson, Ian Page, Brett Robinson, Craig Russell.

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