Israel's defeat of South Africa's national cricket team last week was the highlight of arguably the best tournament the sport has witnessed since the event became an official part of the Maccabiah Games, according to the chairman of Israel Cricket.
"History was made," chairman Stanley Perlman told Haaretz. "The chairman can't ask for anything more when his team gets into the final for the first time since cricket was introduced in 1957. More so was the victory the day before against South Africa for the first time ever."
Israel beat South Africa on Sunday, forcing a five-way tie in group play, and advanced to the final on the merits of its run-scoring. "In the final, they came back with their pride hurt and played at their level, which was better than Israel but not much better," said Perlman. "(South Africa's) Adam Bacher was missing, but the Israeli team was absolutely wonderful."
Parlman singled out Matan Razpurker, 23. "I've got to give it to him. This is a kid who is not the greatest of bowlers," he said. Toward the end of Sunday's match, there was one over left, with South Africa needing four runs and one wicket to go.
"The South African last pair, the number 10 and 11 batsmen had taken the score from 150 to 201, and we couldn't get them out," he said. "And then the captain asked a couple of guys to bowl, and no one wanted to, and this little kid said, 'Give me the ball, I'm going to bowl,” and on the second ball, Razpurker got the wicket.
"We won by three runs and every credit goes to this kid," said Perlman. "The next day he bowled and got five wickets. Even though that wasn't enough, it was the spirit of the team. There were also some wonderful batting performances by Eshkol Solomon, who was named player of the tournament at the mayor's parlor in Ashdod."
The team leaders and staff played a pivotal role in Israel's success as well. He said Raymond Ashton was a "wonderful success" in his debut as captain. "I cannot give him enough praise for the way he captained the team," said Perlman. He noted that there was also some good coaching by Herschel Gutman, who got the team to a point where they were able to compete with the best, and that Steve Leigh, the manager, got along wonderfully with the team and added to its stability.
Perlman also praised the leg spin bowling of Josh Evans. "The word is that the Australian Maccabi team has invited him to play cricket there for six months during the offseason in Israel," based on what the Aussies saw, he said.