New Zealand Croatia Cricket, a club that's been playing for just four years, will feature three Northlanders in today's match against Auckland Cricket's Developing Future Aces, Auckland's under-19 team.

Duracrete Products City's Joey Yovich, Onerahi Central keeper Brad Kneebone and former Black Cap James Marshall will be involved in the contest at Auckland's Cornwall Park.

The match is part of the under-19's preparations for this season and Yovich sees why they have chosen to face off with the New Zealand Croatia side.

"It must be something about us Kiwi Croatians," he said. "We fight hard, work hard, we're not here to muck around. Right from the beginning, our team set its standards high."


The club was born when long-time Northern Districts allrounder Yovich, former Waikato Valley wicketkeeper Tony Govorko and former Auckland A rep John Vujnovich looked around and realised how many cricketers there were floating around the traps evidently of Croatian extraction.

"The names can make it pretty easy to spot a fellow muski," said Hamilton-based Govorko, the new club president.

"But what happened is once we got up and running, all these players whom we hadn't known were also Croatian came out of the woodwork. The likes of Adrian and Dominic Smith-Hodgson, and James and Charles Bevin."

Apart from Auckland's next generation of Aces and Black Caps, the Busck and Kookaburra-sponsored New Zealand Croatia team also takes on former Black Caps and first-class representatives in an annual fixture with the New Zealand Cricket Players' Association, and Northern Districts' up-and-comers in the representative Northern Maori team.

They've played international sides, too, and have a goal of getting themselves over to Croatia in the next few years to show the Continental cousins what the sport New Zealand-styles is all about. It's all a step up from the normal golden oldies diet of most small "wanderer's clubs", of no fixed abode.