Expedition in Play - Chris Clarke's perspective
Several people have shown an interest in learning more about my match with the Australian number one, Trevor Bassett, in the Mac. The Tournament Referee correctly reports that I failed to give detailed reasons behind my request for a RiC. I felt that spending 5 minutes giving a full account of my reasons hindered my objective of continuing play expeditiously, but for the record here are my reasons:
- I expect all my opponents to play at their usual speed for usual situations. In all the games I have seen Trevor play over the past four years he seemed to play briskly. I would rate him as the quickest player during this Mac, winning many games in under 35 minutes.
- During my first game against Trevor, he was absent from the lawn for six minutes after I finished my first break to 4-back. When he arrived, he took another six minutes to decide what lift shot to take (standard diagonal spread v 1&1), walking at funereal speed to every point on both baulk lines.
- During our match at the Worlds in 2002, I finished the first game of our match at 9.45; Trevor remained in his seat for several minutes and when I asked him to continue he said he wanted to break for lunch. I explained that he could not as it was 9.50, "You can't make me play" he replied. I spent 10 minutes getting the RoT then waited another 10 minutes while he went to the toilet.
- I accept that players have the right to play slowly in two circumstances: when they face an unusual tactical scenario, or if they normally play slowly. I did not view it as unreasonable when Greg Bryant took 63 minutes to go from hoop 2 to the peg with no peels in our doubles match since I think Greg was probably the slowest player in the event.
I would also like to comment on Rhys' reports where he states; "both players were trying to get into each others heads". I totally refute any suggestion that I was playing or acting in any manner other than that of someone who wishes the game to be played according to the laws.
One of the best things about croquet is that you have the pleasure to play against some of the nicest people you could ever wish to meet and this year's Mac was no exception. I accept that the difference in interpretation as to what is "acceptable gamesmanship" and what is cheating is a difficult one to make and values have changed over the years. It would have been unthinkable 30 years ago for an English cricketer to be caught behind and not walk, but continued mockery of these values is changing some players' mind. I for one hope that true sporting values remain in our unique sport.