Club History

Club History

The Maccabi AJAX Cricket Club formed in 1996/97 following the amalgamation of the AJAX Cricket Club and Northern Maccabi Cricket Club.

AJAX Cricket Club

By Ray Montag

The AJAX Cricket Club started in 1929 as the Gymnasium Cricket Club in a four-side competition played on Sundays within the AJAX organisation. In its next year it reverted to a Saturday competition and competed as the Hakoah Cricket Club. Members of the team included C. & B. Bardas, G. Cohen, P. Efron, Norm Efron, F. & J. Fairman, Ern Joseph, Joe Klooger, Sam Michaels, Rubin Sackville, Henry Silver and L. & P. Wittner. A premiership was won in 1937, but the club disbanded during the war years.

With carnivals about to recommence in 1945, the club was reformed as the AJAX Cricket Club and played next to the cemetary at Princess Park (Carlton) in the Northern Suburban Cricket Association, entering two teams in A and B grade. The president was Morry Sonnerberg and the secretary was Henry Gould. The team won its first premiership in 1954/55 under the captaincy of Abe Isaacs and contained star batsmen David Mandie and Les Kausman.

In the late 1950’s, the club moved to Faulkner Park and competed in the Prahran and Southern Districts competition in A and B Grade, winning the 1961/62 flag under the captaincy of Henry Gould. A record 10th wicket stand of 163 runs between Ray Saffer and Leigh Rubinstein saw the side score over 400 runs.

A major turning point came in the winter of 1962, when Herb Swedosh had the foresight to realise that the Ajax cricket club’s future was severely limited by the fact that ‘better’ players would eventually seek clubs playing on turf and not matting. The late Hans Licht – the then Australian Jewish News editor and a friend of Swedosh – ultimately introduced Swedosh to Kurt Defris, a major powerbroker of Haokah Sports Club, and following a series of subsequent meetings, Defris arranged to obtain turf facilities for the club at Albert Park – on the proviso that the club’s name be changed to Hakoah-AJAXCC. Swedosh and Ben Sternfeld both agreed that the benefits of moving to turf outweighed any other possibilities, and consequently the club entered sides into the prestigious Victorian Junior Cricket Association Central A and B turf grades.

Top-quality players came to play in this new competition and while third and fourth elevens played at Faulkner Park in the PSDCC A and B grade. The teams included star players such as Swedosh, Sternfeld, Les Kausman, Henry Gould, Harry Newhouse, Brian Bromberger, Don Finklestein, Ray Saffer, Paul Bridgeman, Solly Simon, Mike Shulman, Eric Butt, George Halphin, Sam Komesarook, Stan Woolf, Geoff Hechtman. The teams were dominant for the next 10 years and won premierships in 1964/65 under Les Kausman and 1970/71 with the seconds winning in 1963/64.

By the early 1970’s the club had a fifth XI playing at Royal Park and entered juniors in the CMCA. The club won another premiership in 1975/76 and again in 1983/84 under Steve Sandor. Players of that time included Rick and Ash Kausman, Ric Marks, David Carrick, Mark Fine, Ray Montag, Herb Swedosh, Joe Silver, Laurie Schneider, Steven Leigh, Adam Burstin and Mike Zemski.

Northern Maccabi Cricket Club

By Richard Lustig

The Northern Maccabi Cricket Club was previously known as the North Eastern Jewish Cricket Club and was formed in 1973. It was closely associated with the Northern Eastern Jewish War Memorial Centre in Doncaster and used to use the Menorah as the club’s symbol. It provided an alternative cricket club to the Ajax Cricket Club to cater for the nascent Jewish population in North Balwyn and Doncaster at the time.

The club was well known for its great sense of camaraderie and cohesion and its ability to cater for players of a variety of standards. At one stage it comprised four senior teams although more typically two or three senior teams played. It also had an under-16’s team for some years. It played in the Box Hill Districts and Eastern Suburbs cricket competitions where it enjoyed some success, playing in the finals series in most years. Premierships however were hard to come by, aside from some in the early years of the club’s history.

The club played at a variety of home grounds. Matting pitches included Ayr Street in Doncaster and Burgundy Drive in Doncaster. Significantly, the club moved on to turf at Wilsons Road, Doncaster in the later 1980s following the efforts of life member Rob Levin which was a watershed in the club’s history.

Shawne RubinsteinThe club’s greatest cricketer was Philip Burman with 535 wickets and 3,409 runs. The other batsmen who scored more than 1800 runs were Michael Same, Zelig Wloszczowski, Jack Moszcowicz, Shawne Rubinstein (including four centuries), Jeff Kagan and Les Newman.

The other bowlers who took more than 150 wickets were Fred Goldman, Phil Spitalnic, Peter Werth, Eric Guthry, Barry Lehrer, Warren Arbaitman, Sol Spitalnic OAM and Ben Alexander.The club’s all-rounders included Richard Lustig, Danny Lustig, Mike Zemski (club champion on several occasions), Viv Peterson, Mike Moffat, Justin Lipton, Bill Klinger, David Finestone and various others.

Marc Felman and Shawne Rubinstein provided the club’s greatest partnership (213 not out) followed by Gary Sandler and Peter Werth (176), Howard Kotton and Zelig Wloszczowski (173) and Michael Catts and David Freund (164 not out).

Following the drift of the Jewish community from the eastern to the southern suburbs, the club in 1996 took the difficult but courageous decision to merge with the Ajax Cricket Club to form the Maccabi Ajax Cricket Club using the superb new facilities at Albert Park for the first time. This opened the way for many cricketers to play at a higher standard and has unified Victorian Jewish cricket in the one club. The result is an exceptional club both on and off the field.