Cricket in Croatia?

Who would have thought that this fantastic sport would ever be played in the country? However the idea is not as crazy as it seems at first sight. There are strong Croatian communities of immigrants in countries where cricket is one of the most popular of sports (Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and England for example), almost inevitably it was only a matter of time that as families of former emigrants returned to their native Croatia they would bring their love of the game with them and found their own cricket clubs.


Surprisingly

cricket was first played in Croatia on the island of Vis in 1809 when Captain William Hoste, taking a break from sinking French ships in the Napoleonic wars, encouraged his men to play ‘criket’ a full account of this early history of the game in Croatia can be found on the Sir William Hoste CC website.


First time cricket i croatian

In the late 1990’s, a group of friends from Zagreb, Croatian heritage players from Australia, discussed the idea of resurrecting the sport in Croatia. The Zagreb cricket club was founded and this provided the basis for the development of cricket in Croatia. Due to the non-existence of other cricket clubs in Croatia, they turned to the international scene, participating in the highly competitive Austrian cricket league supplemented by periodically playing other European international teams and occasionally hosting touring sides.


Sir Oliver

The idea of founding a cricket club in Split arose when Željko Lipanović with his colleague Mate Marović, served together doing national service in the Croatian Army in 2004. Together with two of their Army colleagues, Petar Pilić and Daniel Bobaš, in their spare time they were trying to hit a tennis ball with a broom stick. During the impromptu ‘game’ it was noticed how Daniel managed to hit the ball every single time. It suddenly occurred to Željko, whose brother Antonio Lipanović, was a Croatian national player and one of the founding members of the Vis Club, who often spoke about cricket, that there might be interest in forming a cricket club based in Split.


The club’s first practice sessions were held in a sporting hall in Dugopolje, near Split. However the club desperately needed an outdoor facility, openareas of land suitable for cricket are rarely available in Croatia, but the club were fortunate that the director of the tourist camp “Resnik”, Mr. DraškoBabić, allowed it to utilize the tourist complexe’s football field. With the support and financial assistance of ICC Europe the Club has been able to lay an artificial grass wicket on the football field.


In 2005 the club played it’s first official cricket game against “Sir William Hoste” cricket club on the island of Vis and convincingly lost; Sir William Hoste scoring a seemingly modest 76 runs with Sir Oliver managing only 28 in reply.


After that historical game, the two cricket clubs established continuous co-operation and after several games we believe that we have raised the quality of our play. The club now plays in the Croatian Cricket League, which comprises 4 teams. In 2006 and 2007 we hosted a touring team from Harrogate in Yorkshire, England and in 2008 we are due to play against sides from England and New Zealand.


Talent and quality of cricket club "Sir Oliver"

The club is very proud that two of its players Mate Marović and Mate Jukić, played for the Croatian national team in the European 3rd division tournament in Belgium in 2007. The Croatian national team won the tournament with a brilliant performance beating all of their opponents, which then earned them the right to enter the European 2nd division if they could beat Israel away from home, which they did in a very tight and nerve destroying game. This was a great result which is a landmark in Croatian Cricket history. The European 2nd division tournament will be held on the island of Guernsey in August 2008, and two of the Club’s players, Ivan Bilić and Mate Jukić will be in the squad.