The first game of cricket to be played in Croatia was in 1815 on the island of Vis where William Hoste, the then governor, introduced the sport after Great Britain defeated Napoleon and gained a presence on the Dalmatian Coast.
The game died out when the British left and it was not revived until the late 1990s when an enthusiastic group of Croatians returning from Australia, where they had learned the game, started a club in Zagreb.
Initially they played friendly matches against Ljubljana Cricket Club in Slovenia. From this base, two players, Ivan Bilic and Robert Dumancic, laid the foundations of the Croatia Cricket Board.
International fixtures commenced in 2000 when they competed in the ECC Representatives Trophy in Vienna, where they lost against Finland and Norway, but beat the hosts and Slovenia. John Vujnovich scored their first competitive century making 106 against Finland, while his brother Paul also reached the landmark as he made 111 against Austria – sharing a record opening stand of 206 with John, who made 81. In the five-run win against Slovenia, it was John who was the batting hero once again as he scored yet another hundred as Croatia finished second behind Norway.
They were back the following year, 2001, they were elected an Affiliate Member of the ICC, and that same year they participated in the ten team ECC Trophy held in Vienna. They lost group games against Austria, Belgium, Greece and Switzerland, but managed to finish ninth thanks to a thumping win over Sweden. The Vujnovich brothers again scored centuries in an unbroken opening stand of 261, while Vendra Zanko (6-24) and JV (4-15) combined as the Swedes made just 43.
They hosted the 2002 ECC Representative competition in Zagreb but finished bottom of the three team event, beaten by Finland and Slovenia.
They were back in Austria for the 2003 ECC Trophy, but a disappointing campaign saw them finish 10th out of 11 teams -- the one highlight was a century by Anthony Sumich in the loss to Spain.
Croatia squad: Zdenko Leko, Tony Govorko, Lovro Frankopan, Vjeko Milanovic, Jeffrey Grzinic, Phillip Siljeg, Pero Kaštelan, Vedran Zanko, John Vujnovich, Frank Matijasko, Craig Sinovich, Jasen Butkovic, Anthony Sumich, Peter Frankopan.
This seemed to be a turning point for the team and thereafter they applied themselves more, helped by strengthening further with a few players based overseas. They duly travelled to Slovenia for the 2004 ECC Rep. competition and won all five matches to be crowned champions. Highlights were three half centuries for Paul Vujnovich who finished second in the tournament run charts, while Phillip Siljeg topped the bowling charts while Jasen Butkovich (8) finished fourth.
They were in Belgium for the 2005 Affiliates tournament and struggled in the step up in class to finish seventh out of nine sides, with Chris Pivac becoming their latest centurion with hundreds against Spain and Finland to finish leading run scorer in the event, while Craig Sinovich’s 12 wickets placed him sixth in the bowling.
2007 saw them crowned European Division Three champions in Belgium, where they beat Spain, Portugal and Finland in the group stages, followed by victories in the semi-final over Malta and then Spain in a thrilling decider by four runs. Familiar names contributed to their win with the Vujnovichs, Pivac,and Siljeg all prominent.
They suffered a baptism of fire in the 2008 Division Two tournament in Guernsey, where they finished bottom of the table losing all five matches against the hosts, Jersey, Gibraltar, France and Germany, with little to cheer save for a 74 from Chris Pivac.
The switch to T20 cricket in 2011 saw them part of a 12-team qualifying tournament in Guernsey but the island again wasn’t a happy hunting ground for them as they finished last. Losses to Italy, Guernsey, Austria, Norway and Gibraltar in the group stages were followed by play-off defeats by Germany and Israel.
Their final European tournament came in 2012 where another poor campaign meant they finished 10th out of 12 teams. They were beaten in all five group games, and in the placings a win against Malta was followed by a loss to Luxembourg. There were few bright spots apart from the all-round efforts of Mike Griznic who took ten wickets and was their top run scorer.
2012 Squad: John Vujnovich, Jasen Butkovic, Nikola Davidovic, Istok Dordevic, Jeffrey Grzinic, Michael Grzinic, Josip Jukic, Pero Kastelan, Peter Mackelworth, Paul Musin, Ivan Pazanin, Vivek Sharma, Craig Sinovich, Damir Svilicic, Paul Musin (Manager), Neha Puntambekar (Assistant Manager).
This poor performance was to have severe consequences as they fell victim to the European cricketing cull by Nick Pink and they subsequently vanished into the cricketing wilderness, save for friendly games with Poland and Hungary in 2013.
Worse was to follow in 2019 as the Croatia Cricket Federation was suspended for ‘continuing non-compliance with ICC Membership criteria.’
There is some league cricket still being played and the European Cricket Network hosted matches there, but it’s a poor substitute for ICC sanctioned international cricket.
This article was written by Roy Morgan in 2006 and has been updated by CricketEurope.
An update from Mate Jukic of the Croatian Cricket Federation.
Croatia was elected as an Affiliate member of the ICC back in 2001 and subsequently became an Associate member in 2017. Unfortunately in 2019, Croatia was suspended for 'continuing non compliance with ICC Membership criteria'. In that period the CCF weren't able to fulfill all the ICC Membership criterias due to the minimum 8 team senior (men & women) and junior (boys & girls) national domestic leagues and as a result there were many internal changes occurring within the CCF.
Unfortunately our last ICC European tournament and European friendly matches were played back in 2012 and 2013. Fortunately, a Croatia 'A' national team was formed in 2017, where they competed for the first time at the Mediterannean Cricket League (MCL) 2017 in Croatia. They have been regular participants at the annual MCL tournament playing against strong quality teams from Estonia, Montenegro, Romania, England, Australia, India, Pakistan and Qatar.
Recently, in mid 2020 the CCF elected a new board committee filled with successful, experienced high quality cricket coaches and first grade players, ex national team members and local croatian cricket enthusiasts. The new CCF board are determined to meet all ICC requirements to get Croatia fully back into the ICC family.
In recent years we have been organising annual Croatian cricket domestic leagues for our seniors and juniors during the summer season (June, July till September, October) and the Croatian winter indoor domestic league for our seniors and juniors (February).
The development and progress of the cricket fields/ground facilities and structure of Croatian cricket has improved in recent years resulting in the necessity for further development and promotion of Croatian cricket and actively continuing to increase cricket teams in the Men’s Croatian Domestic League between our existing cricket centres in Zagreb, Split, Vis and other potential cricket centres in Croatia. Therefore, we will also continue to develop our Juniors (boys & girls) Domestic League and are planning to establish our inaugural Women's Croatian Domestic League hopefully in the cricket season 2021.
Alongside our domestic cricket leagues, we will be continuing and further developing our seniors (men & women) and juniors (boy & girls) teaching-training (introductory) sessions / coaching-player development programmes at schools, summer camps, local communities to provide more structure and support in our existing cricket centres in Zagreb, Split, Vis and other potential cricket centres in Croatia.
Our main goals as a cricket federation are to continue to develop and promote cricket in Croatia to all people and reintroduce 'cricket' and cricket information to form close and strong relationships with local schools and communities. All this in the aim to increase their participation in cricket and promote the sport of cricket into the public forum as a potential alternative to traditional sports in Croatia.
|Croatia at International Tournaments|
|View Tournament||2012 European Division 2 (Corfu, Greece)|
|View Tournament||2011 European Division 1 (Jersey & Guernsey)|
|View Tournament||2008 European Division 2 (Guernsey)|
|View Tournament||2007 European Division 3 (Belgium)|
|View Tournament||2005 European Affiliates (Belgium)|
|View Tournament||2004 ECC Representative Festival (Ljubljana, Slovenia)|
|View Tournament||2003 ECC Trophy (Vienna, Austria)|
|View Tournament||2002 ECC Representative Festival (Zagreb, Croatia)|
|View Tournament||2001 ECC Trophy (Austria)|
|View Tournament||2000 European Representative Festival (Vienna)|