It’s a later than usual start to summer for the unique wanderers cricket club, all its 2015/16 annual T20 showdowns set down for February and March. And where better to start than Whangarei’s exquisite first-class and international ground, where they will be going head to head with the old diggers and young bucks of the The Cobham Club at 1pm this Sunday.
It’s the second annual free entry clash between the two Northland-flavoured teams, and they share a special bond in that both clubs have the same reason for being — to help the players of tomorrow.
“It’s a great opportunity for the young fellas in both our sides to play and learn alongside guys who have played a lot of hard cricket over the years,” says New Zealand Croatia captain Joey Yovich, who himself played 17 seasons of first-class and white ball cricket for the SKYCITY Northern Knights.
“Anyone can teach you cricket skills, but toughness under pressure is something we learn from playing — from watching the way your teammates both handle and apply that pressure, and then emulating and practising that mindset yourself.”
The inaugural “Cros v Cobs” clash a year ago, at the same ground, resulted in a handsome six-wicket win to New Zealand Croatia who, as the name suggests, is a club bringing together Kiwis with Croatian heritage to share both their Dalmation links and culture and their love of the game.
There are a surprising number of quality players for the growing club to draw on, including first-class players Dusan Hakaraia and Anton Devcich, and a number of Kiwis who have represented Croatia itself in cricket, such as wicketkeeper Tony Govorko and allrounder John Vujnovich.
The club also invites guest players to join their roster and on Sunday that means a chance for Northlanders to see County player Tom Wells in action — a 22-year-old first-class cricketer who has played more than 50 games for Leicestershire, and is currently the top runscorer in Auckland Club Cricket, where he is ‘wintering’ with the Auckland University prems.
New Zealand Croatia has also called in newly minted Northlander Stacey Hyndman — and why wouldn’t you after he took a match haul of 11-50 in his first game for City against Kaipara Flats, after moving from Auckland this season.
New Zealand Croatia is looking forward to a strong contingent of local support, including key supporters from foundation sponsor BUSCK Prestressed Concrete who help make the club's goals and activities all possible.
Yovich will captain the New Zealand Croatians while Brett Hood will again lead the Cobham Club. New Zealand Croatia is hoping the weather plays ball after their only other fixture to date this summer, a 50-over match against Auckland Cricket’s Future Aces, was rained off in December. The pavilion bar will be open at Cobham Oval and all are welcome for a fun family day out.
New Zealand Croatia
Joseph Yovich (captain)
Tony Govorko (w)
Brett Hood (captain)