A six-up squad of Israel's men bowlers are setting off this weekend for a 10-day tour of Ireland, where they will be seriously challenged by the best of Ireland's bowlers.
Selected for Israel are Haifa's Chaim Shefer and Ari Ben-Dor, Ra'anana's Raymond Sher, Colin Silberstein and Zvika Hadar, and Ramat Gan's Boaz Marcus, with Barry Scop as team manager.
In a concentrated consecutive nine-day program the Israelis will set off against selected provincial teams, climaxing in two final test matches on the last two days of the tour, on August 24th. and 25th.
For Israel the tour is a forerunner of the quadrennial World Bowls Championships next year in Scotland - each member of the team with the potential of being in the final five line-up for next year's event.
The senior member of the tour is Chaim Shefer, the only remaining player from Israel's 2000 World Bowls team, and who after earning his first international cap in 1998 has been a regular member of Israel's international squad.
Sher and Colin Silberstein have represented Israel in successive international events over the last five or six years, both of them having participated in the recent Hong Kong "Tiger" Tournament, and both having represented Israel in European championship tournaments.
Ari Ben- Dor earned his first international cap three years ago and represented Israel in last year's Hong Kong Classic Tournament. Boaz Marcus earned international recognition when last year he was the runner-up in and under 25 World indoor championship in Belfast.
A well deserved first time cap goes to the sixth member of the team Zvika Hadar, who only recently won Israel's prestigious President's Singles Trophy and who has already in his short four years playing career won numerous national titles.
Israel's stars, however have no illusions about the coming challenge. Ireland's 10,000 bowlers may number far fewer than in the United Kingdom, but they are a major force in the world's highest level events. Ireland's 28 year old Jeremy Henry is the present holder of the World's outdoor singles title - in 1996 Ireland were the World's Pairs Champions, they won the fours in 1998 and triples in 1984.
Ireland's invitation follows from a warm bond established between the two bowling communities 18 years ago, when in 1985 an Israeli national team earned a first time overseas invitation to visit Ireland for a full international test series. Reciprocal visits between Israel's and Ireland's bowlers followed with international events between both men and women bowlers, as well as reciprocal visits by respective youth teams.
Much of the cordial relationship originally established between the two associations were at the initiative of Ireland's Tom Sutton together with the late Stanley Nash, both of whom were for many years leading administrators in Ireland and Britain.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now