Wednesday 12 February 2014 

VIS Cricket - A Tournament With A Difference

Village greens are the normal home of cricket matches around the world with sandwiches and orange squash served up at tea.

However, organisers of one tournament in a non-traditional cricket playing country are hoping to show a different side of the game on a wicket surrounded by vineyards.

The VIS was set up two years ago by Frozen Tomato Events as a friendly six-a-side cricket tournament on the Croatian island of Vis as a way of bringing cricket lovers to the picturesque island off the Dalmatian coast.

Starting on 2nd May, the third edition of the competition begins with the winner being decided on 4th May.

Just a budget airline flight and short boat ride away from Split’s port, Vis is a small gem boasting vast amounts of vineyards, lovely beaches and stunning scenery.

Vis is also steeped in Croatian military history with General Tito using a set of caves high up on one of the mountains as his hiding place during the Second World War.

Little did the man who became Yugoslavia’s first president know but nearly 60 years later a local Australian-born wine maker Oliver Roki would form the Sir William Hoste Cricket Team, using a piece of land next to one of his vineyards as the wicket.

The club is named after the former British naval officer who was posted to the island for six years, during which time he played a few games of cricket with his crew.

By encouraging the island’s youngsters to come and give the sport a go, a sense of passion for cricket built up quicker than a Twenty20 innings from Chris Gayle.

Along with playing sides from the mainland, the team also took on touring clubs from across the globe, although many came from British shores.

With the splendour of the scenery and the love for cricket, Craig Wear and Russ Jones saw a massive opportunity to form a fun-filled competition.

After much hard work, in 2012 this became The Vis International Sixes (V.I.S).

Spread over three days in the first week of May, teams of six battle it out in five-overs-a-side matches culminating in a final slog fest.

The tournament is open to anyone whether they are an outstanding semi-pro batsman or someone who has barley picked up a ball in their life.

Teams from across the UK and Croatia have appeared in the first two VISs with Russ, based in Chelmsford, saying the most important thing was to enjoy the contest.

"There is not anywhere quite like Vis to come and play cricket," he explained.

 "The island is a beautiful place with lovely weather throughout the year giving it a strong difference to some of the damp months back in Britain.

"Me and Craig, who lives out in Vis, set this tournament up in 2012 as a way of bringing tourists to the island because we felt it deserved to be seen by more people.

"I have organised cricket tours for many teams around Eastern Europe and there is so much to offer everyone particularly in terms of boozy tours in places like Prague and Bucharest.

"But Vis is a completely different kettle of fish as it is a far more chilled out environment and every team who has got out here has loved it."

A squad can consist of up to ten players with tournament organisers having a maximum of 12 team spaces open.

Participating costs £300pp which includes:

  • Five nights B&B accommodation from 1st-6th May
  • Free tournament evening meal at Roki’s Restaurant.
  • Transport to and from the ground on tournament days plus an evening transfer for the competition dinner provided.
  • Refreshments and lunch during each day of the competition.
  • A playing shirt for each player.

Played on an artificial wicket in sunny temperatures reaching the mid 20s degrees Celsius, the tournament offers a superb break away in the sun.

Craig said: "This is a great chance to play cricket in a place a million miles apart from any other cricket ground you are likely to play at.

"No experience is required, we just want people to come and enjoy themselves while discovering the island at the same time."

Home advantage has played a part in the first two years with the local Sir William Hoste side reaching the final on both occasions.

Sadly on each occasion, they came unstuck losing out to Zagreb-based side Sokol in 2012 and St John’s Wood last year, who took the coveted VIS title back to their base just down the road from Lord's.

Can the home team finally secure the VIS title for themselves this year or will another team take the plaudits?

Well why not fly out and see for yourselves.

For more information or to book your place in the VIS or to organise a cricketing tour to the island at a different time of year, visit www.frozentomatoevents.com or email info@frozentomatoevents.com.