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MacRobertson Shield Report: England v USA

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pictureSamir Patel and Christian Carter in play during the MacRobertson Shield 2022 (Photo: Victorian Croquet Association)

by England MacRobertson Shield Team at Victorian Croquet Centre, Cainlea, Melbourne
16th November 2022 (The MacRobertson Shield)

Having arrived with 5 days to prepare before the first Test, we were warmly welcomed by the Brighton Club on Tuesday 8th as we shook off the jetlag with some practice. Like Southwick, they have a railway line next to the club. A big "thank you" to all the members of the club who came to watch and made us feel so welcome.

Wednesday & Thursday we had full days practice at Cairnlea with hoops in old holes and again on Friday morning. Weather has been variable with hot sunshine through to torrential downpours. Lawns were all mown, moved and hoops reset ready for the first day.

At the opening ceremony on Friday evening all the teams were welcomed by an enthusiastic local mayor among others.

Day 1: Doubles 1

In the Avery & Burch, Soo & Balding match, Avery had a quick tp in the first, but stuck in 5 on a second triple. After Soo made it to peg, Burch went round to peg him out but missed the pegout and accidentally pegged himself out. Balding put down the three ball break and Avery finished for the first point on the board.

Fisher & Death, Rothman & Morgan match, Fisher had the first chance but stuck in 3 and we never got back in through game 1 and most of game 2. Fisher had a ball round in the second, Death's tp never got going, Rothman hit a long shot and after further missing, Rothman and Morgan took it to equalise the match score.

Patel, Carter, Essick & Watson took longer to complete their match. Patel hit a lot in the match and eventually pegged Watson out and Carter got home to game up. Games 2&3 were interactive but unfortunately both went to the Americans giving them a 2-1 lead in the test after day 1.

Singles tomorrow so 6 points available if the risk of lightning doesn't materialise.

[James Death]

Day 2: Singles 1

Day 2 saw the start of the singles. After an interactive start, Captain Patel lead from the front, crunching up his oppo with two immaculate triple peels before lunch time. Match Score 2-2.

Burch continued his fine form, and, as one would expect of a 5-time Champion of the South of England, he was game up by lunchtime against Morgan. He then hit his lift to finish from 3b and penult with a beautifully judged straight double. Match Score 3-2.

Fisher had a decent start against Essick going around 3rd turn. Unfortunately his 5th turn ended in the jaws of hoop 1 and Essick played a tidy TPO. Fisher failed to get started off the contact and didn't manage a shot at oppo before Essick picked up a break to win game 1. Game 2 started with Fisher going around 4th turn and, after an error from each player, Fisher won in two breaks. Game 3 again saw Fisher go around 3rd turn, Essick hit 4th turn, but an uncharacteristic miss before 2b gave Fisher the opportunity to win the match with a tp. Match score 4-2.

Avery had first ball round against Rothman. However, Ben hit well and took game 1. The second game saw both players stick in a number of hoops, but Avery prevailed to take it to a decider. Game 3 saw Rothman take a ball to 4b 5th turn. Mark hit the lift to equalize, and went to peg with his second ball when Ben missed his lift. The victory was secured when Ben missed once more and Mark finished with tight control. Match score 5-2.

Death pegged out Watson in game 1, but excellent shooting saw the American win Game 1. It looked like it would be a 2-0 victory, but a slightly bizarre finish saw Death squeak home +1. In game 3 Watson played well and finshed with a tp. Match score 5-3.

The Carter Balding match was a slower affair, in which Christian won game 1 after a protracted 3 ball ending. Game 2 saw both players making early breaks, but Carter always looked the favourite as he finished off a good day for the English. Match score 6-3.

[Harry Fisher]

Day 3: Doubles 2

Seven minutes before the start of practice, only three of 24 players (all from England) were present at the venue, with all other arrivals delayed having misjudged Melbourne traffic or having failed to notice local roadworks. The other players arrived just in time, but players may be setting off earlier tomorrow!

Building on yesterday's successes, England started quickly in two matches, with early breaks for Jamie and Christian. The other game started without either side needing to play a croquet stroke, but first roquet went to USA (Essick & Watson) and James and Harry never took croquet in game 1. The pattern continued, with James and Harry not finding their shooting boots and returning to the clubhouse for an early lunch. Match score 6-4.

Samir completed a TP to take game 1 against Soo & Balding. Christian had a fourth turn break in game 2, but after a rush to a nasty position at 3-back settled for an NSL leave one hoop early. Samir failed his quad, and the game became much more interactive. Mark and Jamie maintained most of the lawn time in their match, before a torrential and near-horizontal rain storm brought play to an abrupt halt mid-turn with Mark on a TP, with players stopping for an early lunch as standing water appeared on all 12 courts. After lunch, Mark failed the immediate hoop. Rothman took a break to 4-back, for Mark to hit and retained control of the game. Match score 7-4.

Shortly afterwards, Christian hit a 28 yard shot to regain the innings and Samir soon pegged out to bring the match score to 8-4 overnight.

The NZ v Australia test was tied 4-4 at the time, but progressed to 6-5 to New Zealand overnight.

[Samir Patel]

Day 4: Doubles 3

Going into the day 8-4 up England needed a win in all 3 of the doubles to secure the test on day 4. Burch and Avery had a rapid start to the day playing Essick and Watson and Jamie would have finished a nice TP in the first had it not been for an unfortunate rush of oppo ball into the jaws of rover before his straight rover peel. A clinical second game saw Jamie pick up a TP to add 1 point to the England scoreboard before lunch.

In Death & Fisher vs Balding & Soo England started well with a ball to 4b by James, Harry didn't get the peels going and Balding subsequently had a ball round. Soo dug out a standard TP but failed to get peelee close enough to rover for the straight peel and declined the attempt, instead pegging off Harry's ball to leave the score rover and peg plays rover and box. Soo was disappointed to find James found the hill on a 30 yard shot on a wired ball to finish off the first.

Game 2 saw Balding take the early break to 4b but Jeff couldn't get going with the second ball. Fisher hit and went to 4b but Death's subsequent triple came to grief when he failed 1b with 2 peels done. Oppo made a leave but Fisher hit in and made rover with a tight leave. Oppo missed and Death finished with his usual flair to put another point on the board.

Patel & Carter v Rothman & Morgan was a longer affair going to 3 games. Rothman failed 6 on first break and Samir quickly took a ball to 4b. Christian had a ball to the peg but a scrappy leave was hit but Rothman only made one hoop. Morgan then took a ball to 4b, Ben got going but failed Rover giving Samir an easy finish in the first.

The second saw Rothman with first break and when Morgan's TP attempt came to grief at hoop 4 having failed the first peel at 3. Rothman ran 4b before missing into C2. Christian came to grief on a DPO with one peel done when strikers ball found its way into the jaws of penult when loading 3b. Morgan took an easy break to the peg starting at hoop 4 but failed to attempt the single rover peel at any point. Patel pegged off Morgan's ball leaving 2b and peg plays rover and box. Rothman hit the lift but failed to get in front of rover and Christian established a 3 ball break failing 4b in the wind eventually allowing Rothman to make rover and hit a 15 yard peg out.

Some competence was found in the 3rd when Carter took a tight break round turn 6 and Patel to peg turn 8. Morgan hit turn 9 but failed to make hoop 1. Carter hit the 35 yarder from hoop 2 to C4 and subsequently finished to take the winning point for the Test.

[Christian Carter]

Day 5: Singles 2

In the final singles day, we beat USA 5-1 to make it 16-5 overall.

In the Avery v Morgan first game Avery hit 4th turn and went to 4 back with a NSL. Morgan missed the lift and 2 turns later finished with a plus 26tp.

The 2nd game started with Morgan hitting 3rd turn, Avery missing 4th then Morgan going to 4 back with a spread. Avery missed the lift but then Stephen blobbed one, Mark hit from 2 going to 4 back. Morgan hit the lift but clanged 3. Avery went to peg and penult. Morgan missed then Avery finished.

The Burch v Rothman match was of high quality by Jamie winning 2 nil in 11 turns.

CC was not last to finish for the 1st time so came to watch the with the rest of the team after his straight games win over Jeff Soo.

Harry shot well in his game against Zack Watson. He combined this with some quality pick-ups and some excellent break play to prevail 2-0.

James played well against the USA's no.1 Matthew Essick. On the trickiest lawn, break play and shooting were both quite difficult. Essick took the first game and looked like winning the second before sending his peelee off the lawn after peeling rover. James stepped up and showed his class by completing a well controlled triple peel. Matthew, however, played well to win game 3 and the match.

Samir Patel looked like winning the first game but Balding played well to come from behind and claim game 1. Balding continued to shoot well in game 2 but Patel managed to win, leading to a high quality game 3 in which Patel won +17tp 7th turn.

As Australia edged New Zealand 11-10, we have New Zealand next while Australia play USA.

[Mark Avery/Jamie Burch]


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