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Cricket has been played in Israel since the days of the British Mandate, which began in 1917, although the first national league, consisting of 10 clubs, was only set up in 1966. The Israel Cricket Association was founded in 1968. Israel became an Associate Member of the ICC in 1974. Numerous touring teams, predominantly club sides from Britain, have toured Israel, and both senior and junior teams from Australia, England, India and South Africa are hosted in the Maccabi Games, played every four years. In 1996, Israel was one of the founding members of the European Cricket Council.
The Israel senior side participates in the European Championships, whilst junior teams also take part in European tournaments at the different age groups. Israel has enjoyed good success at the junior level, winning tournaments at the U13, U15 and U17 levels, as well as finishing second at U19 tournaments. An Israel youth team embarked on a tour of India in 2007, whilst a very powerful India A team played three matches against an Israel Invitation XI as part of the country's 60th anniversary celebrations in 2008.
Israel has participated in numerous other international tournaments since 1970, including all ICC Trophy competitions. Cricket is played as part of Maccabiah Games, which are held every four years in Israel, with both senior and U18 teams from Australia, Great Britain, India and South Africa taking part alongside the host nation.
The senior team enjoyed its greatest success to date when it won the 2009 European Championship Division Three in Spain, followed by a play-off against Croatia to secure promotion to Division Two.
Although it only finished in fifth during its first campaign in Division Two - held in Guernsey in July 2010 - it did make its mark on proceedings with two victories. Batsman Eshkol Solomon will remember the tournament particularly fondly as he struck the highest score by an Israeli - 120 - and became only the second centurion, the first being David Moss scored 108 against Fiji in the 1986 ICC Trophy.
There are 18 teams in the domestic league, which is divided into two divisions. All league matches are one-day games with 80 overs in a day. Teams come from towns such as Lod, Ra-anana, Ramle, Tel Aviv and Ashdod in the centre of the country, as well as Kiryat Gat, Be-er Sheva, Dimona and Eilat in the south. Lions Lod have dominated the local league in recent years. In addition to the league, a cup competition has traditionally been played, although this was replaced by a Twenty20 competition in 2009.
Israel has a vibrant youth development programme, which has yielded excellent results in recent years, including gold medals at many European tournaments at different age groups and a silver medal at the 2005 Maccabi Games. Cricket is played as part of the curriculum at numerous elementary schools and afternoon practices take place daily, mainly in the south.
Activities such as Kwik cricket tournaments are held on all holidays, and training sessions and matches for younger players are arranged on a regular basis. In March 2007, an Israel youth team toured India for the first time. Israel was rewarded for its efforts in youth development by winning the 2003 ICC/Flicx Community Development Global Award. Israel has an active Umpires Association that provides training and organises seminars for local umpires, often with the assistance of visiting ICC Europe umpire instructors.