Israel, led by Herschel Gutman, will be keen to return as quickly as possible to the top flight, and they will bring a strong, experienced side to Corfu. There are recalls for Raymond Aston and Gabi Schachat and new faces in South African-born Gerrit Grundling and Sri Lankan Kapila Perere. The squad does not, however, include their leading wicket-taker from Division 1 last season, Eliezer Samson, who has been named among the reserves.
Portugal, who finished a creditable fourth in Belgium last year, will again be captained by Mozambique-born Akbar Saiyad. They, too, bring plenty of experience to the tournament, but they will also have one of the younger players in 18-year-old Bilal Safdar. Their chances of success may depend on the form of Zafar Ali, who achieved a strike rate of 197.10 in last year’s competition.
The draw puts Portugal in the same group as their neighbours Spain, whose fifth place last time can in part be attributed to the fact that then they were in a distinctly stronger group. Mark Spencer takes over the captaincy, while they will again be looking to James Morgan among the batsmen, one of the outstanding performers in Belgium with 244 runs at an average of 34.86. Newcomers in the Spanish squad are Nisar Ahmed, Tariq Ali Awan and Mohammad Yasin, all Pakistan-born but seven-year residents in their adopted country.
Tony Whiteman assumes the captaincy of a Luxembourg side which will be keen to improve on their eighth place last season. They will feature a father-and-son combination in Graham and William Cope, the latter being the baby of the tournament at 15. Luxembourg also include another locally-born teenager in 18-year-old Christopher Evans, but there is plenty of experience elsewhere in the squad and they will be hoping to cause some surprises along the way.