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Bensiyon completes journey from India

Posted: 27-Oct-2010 by Cricket Senior

L-R: Daniel Onas, Bensiyon Songavkar, Jeff Israel, Joel Beebe

The Maccabi AJAX Cricket Club (MACC) is extremely proud to announce the arrival of its first ever international recruit, with 25 year-old Indian Jewish cricketer Bensiyon Moses Songavkar touching down in Melbourne last night.

Bensiyon, who lives in Rajkot, India about 750km from Mumbai (Bombay) in the Gujarat state, is a cricketer with a fantastic pedigree, and will represent the MACC 1st XI in the Victorian Turf Cricket Association’s South Division in season 2010/11.

Arriving last night around 9pm, Bensiyon was met at Tullamarine airport by MACC President Jeff Israel, Joel Beebe and Daniel Onas, before being driven to Caulfield where he was introduced to a host family that have generously offered to billet him for some of his stay in Melbourne.

“This is a huge accomplishment, and one that is something that our club, and committee should all feel really proud of,” Israel said.

“There have been many hours, possibly hundreds, of work and effort put in behind the scenes that was required to make this happen.”

“It was a team effort. Leon Jacobs, Dave Gelbart, Daniel Onas, Jono Weinstock, David Majtlis were all instrumental, as well as many others.

“But all our efforts were dwarfed by the truly amazing efforts that Joel Beebe has gone to in order to turn the concept into reality.

“If not for Joel’s dedication and commitment this would never have got anywhere near happening. He organised everything from Visas, travel arrangements, host family accommodation, insurances and lots more."

Maccabi Victoria has also been extremely supportive throughout the entire process - with Executive Director Michael Bookman working closely with Beebe in the last six months – and they are equally as excited about the initiative.

“Mac Vic could not have been more helpful through the whole process that we were required to go through to clear all hurdles and make this happen, and I thank them sincerely,” Israel said.

It is quite rare for our club to be able to recruit players of Bensiyon’s quality, and combined with the return of former top-class players Jono Weinstock and Daniel Onas, the club is buoyed with excitement for the season ahead.

Bensiyon has played for his region Saurashtra in the Ranji Trophy – the equivalent of the Sheffield Shield in Australia – and he also represented India at the 2009 Maccabiah games where he was named Player of the Tournament in 2009 after dominating with the bat - including scoring a memorable 50 in the final against South Africa and leading India to its first ever cricket medal at the Games.

He also represented Israel alongside Jonty Rhodes in a special three-game series against ‘India A’ to celebrate Israel’s 60th anniversary in 2008 - where he played against current Indian Test representatives Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara (also from Rajkot), both whom starred in the recent two-test series against Australia – and has represented Saurashtra University in inter-collegiate tournaments and Gujarat in numerous Under 22 competitions.

But it was at the 2009 Maccabiah where Bensiyon met Australian players (including our current 1st XI captain David Majtlis) and ultimately how he has found his way to Melbourne to play with the MACC this season.

“This is a great community story, as well as a great chance for the players and Bensiyon to enjoy other cultures, plus it is also a sporting coup for our club,” Israel continued.

“There is great hype and lots of enthusiasm generated around this exciting initiative, and it is something we should be encouraging. Tell your family; tell your mates, let’s get people down to watch him.”

The club will officially welcome Bensiyon at its Round 3 selection night BBQ on Thursday 28 October, which is taking place after training at the David Mandie Pavilion in Albert Park at 8pm. All players, past players, supporters, and friends of the club are invited to come along to welcome him.

More information about Bensiyon’s record in the Ranji trophy can be found here: http://www.cricinfo.com/ci/content/player/231053.html.

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