18 March 2015
New Zealand Croatia is looking to cap a strong season this weekend with a win in a new annual fixture, significantly the first to take place in the ‘Croatian heartland’ of West Auckland.
Sunday’s free Twenty20 against the Auckland Cavaliers, led by former BLACKCAPS Test player Kerry Walmsley, will pit former Mondiale Auckland Aces and Auckland A representatives against each other, with former first-class Auckland allrounder Dušan Hakaraia (pictured above) looking to carry on his matchwinning form for the “Cros” after starring in their six-wicket victory over the current and former Northland reps of the Cobham Club at Whangarei’s Cobham Oval. Opening the reply, Hakaraia was an easy match for the long boundaries, slaughtering 71 off 46 balls to go with two catches and the useful wicket of Brad Kneebone that helped restrict Cobham to 106 in the first innings.
The free admission 1pm match at Suburbs New Lynn Cricket Club’s Maunder Park features several Kiwis who have represented Croatia at international ICC level in Europe: former Croatia captain John Vujnovich, Tony Govorko and Anton Vujcich; while Vujnovich has also represented Auckland A.
New Zealand Croatia have also named rising young Waitakere players, Ben and Victor Lister, who are of Croatian descent. Ben, a young left-arm seamer, has been labelled ‘one to watch’ in Auckland premier cricket, and has been under Waitakere coach Hakaraia’s wing this summer in his first full season with the Waitakere premier side.
Younger brother Victor has been starring with the bat for Liston College in Auckland schoolboy cricket, while their younger sibling Mat’e is coming up behind them.
Launched just three years ago, New Zealand Croatia is a club that plays a calendar of festival-style matches across the upper North Island in which seasoned pros mix and share their knowledge and culture with young, developing players. Led by John Vujnovich and Joseph Yovich, the side has already completed two unbeaten tours of Rarotonga in the past two off-seasons, playing against, coaching and mentoring the Cook Islands’ national and development teams.
Says captain John Vujnovich, a born and bred ‘Westie’, “Our first game in Northland was pretty emotional for us, and now we’re excited about playing our first fixture in West Auckland which is likewise a real ‘heartland’ area for us culturally, with many of our families having a long connection with the land here, the community and sport that helps glue that community together.
“You can’t underestimate what it means to an 18-year-old to be testing himself against good players and we set high standards in the way we play, so we’re also looking forward to another opportunity to see and assist some of Auckland’s very talented young players.”
With 32 players from Taranaki to Northland already on its Twenty20 festival roster, the club welcomes contact from other players of Kiwi Croatian descent to add to the fast-growing database. Please contact Tony Govorko at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in becoming a playing or non-playing member.
WHAT: New Zealand Croatia vs Auckland Cavaliers inaugural Twenty20 cricket match
WHERE: Suburbs New Lynn CC, Maunder Park, New Lynn, Auckland
WHEN: 1pm, this Sunday 22 March 2015
New Zealand Croatia
John Vujnovich (captain)
Anthony Govorko (wicketkeeper)
Kerry Walmsley (captain)
*Three players to be added
New Zealand Croatia Cricket is proudly sponsored by BUSCK Prestressed Concrete Ltd and gratefully acknowledges the support of Triumph & Disaster and ANZ Cricket World