England Win the MacRobertson Shield
The England team put up a fantastic performance in Australia to triumph in the MacRobertson Shield winning all three tests against the other nations.
The Croquet World Team Championships are a gruelling three-week test of stamina and skill and this series has been extremely challenging. The teams were all very evenly matched and the lawn conditions difficult with tight hoops and high winds effecting play. This led to fewer peeling turns than we might have expected, but some interesting and interactive matches.
Going into the final day the English team were in a commanding position, leading Australia 10 to 5 and needing just one match win to take home the trophy. However, it’s never easy to cross the line, and memories from 2010 will have kept tension high, it took the then British team to the final game to win. However, Mark Avery the most experienced of the English players, and playing in his fifth test series, didn’t hang around. A quick player, he beat Australia’s Edward Wilson in 2 straight games, the first match to finish of the day.
Mark and Jamie were the stars of the English team with just one match loss between them across the whole series. Jamie is only the second player in history known to have won all his matches throughout the series, both doubles and singles.
Congratulations and well played to all the England Team. Great to have a World Cup win for England.
Final score: England win 3 out of 3 tests, beating USA 16:5, New Zealand 11:10 and the final score against Australia was 13:7. New Zealand beat the USA 8:5 to come third.
For background and articles, visit the The MacRobertson Shield Facebook page
For a blog, schedules and team details, visit the The MacRobertson Shield Website
And Full Results can be found on CroquetScores
Mark Avery on his way to rover as he seals the 11th win
The 2022 MacRobertson Shield - Chris Clarke's articles can be found here!
Chris Clarke's daily commentaries.
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Mac Day 4 - for those of you who like detail, here is today's update from Chris Clarke
The sun is out this morning, together with some clouds and a breeze that is extending the flags – and it’s a cold breeze with a top temperature of 12 degrees forecast. It should be a dry morning, but there may be rain later in the day. Perhaps more importantly, the wind is expected to increase in strength.
I’ll try and cover the openings in a bit more detail today since I know some of you want to know more about what is happening.
England start today’s doubles with an 8-4 lead and would love to win the Test today. Australia trail narrowly 5-6 against NZ and will really want to win the doubles today. It’s possible we might be able to complete the pegged down doubles from day 1 as well, so a really big day.
Avery & Burch played Essick & Watson, with Mark, Jamie and Zack all entering the match having won all their matches so far. I think Essick and Watson are a really strong doubles pair. So far, they haven’t lived up to my expectations with below par shooting, but they are the sort of pair that Rob and myself would have felt the need to perform well against. This is the first time I’ve had a chance to watch Zack play and he has the core abilities to be really good, but isn’t quite the finished product yet.
T1 Avery 9y N of C4
T2 Essick just S of C2
T3 Burch misses partner from A-baulk
T4 Watson makes very long doubles from 9y W of C3 – hits. Makes h1, approached h2 from C2 to 8 foot straight and runs it well. Fails an easy h3.
T5 Avery goes to 4-b with a rough reverse OSL with a ball 3 yards NNW of C4
T6 Watson lifts the ball at the peg and misses the short lift.
T7 Burch had an adventurous turn which ended up with the peelee bouncing off a straight rover to end on rover and peg and leave a very rough sort of OSL where Matt had a 12 yarder.
T8 Zack took a defensive 15 yarder towards C2 and missed.
T9 Mark played an excellent 25 yard take-off to get a rush to rover, made rover, but couldn’t get a rush to the peg and made a leave giving the Americans a 30 yarder or 60% of a ball at 15 yards.
T10 Matt took the partially wired shot and just flicked the hoop.
T11 Jamie finished +24
G2T1 Matt wide supershot allowing a shot from the end of A-baulk to just E of C2
G2T2 Mark to just S of C2.
G2T3 Zack shoots at Mark…………hits. Goes to 4-b with 3 ducks.
G2T4 Jamie misses narrowly to C2.
G2T5 Matt fails to get a rush to h1 and fails an 8 foot 10 degree hoop. Lots of balls now have 12 yarders.
G2T6 Mark shot at partner in C2 and hit. Went to 4-b with an OSL.
G2T7 Matt lifted the ball at h2 and took the short lift……..missing. I think this event has already demonstrated the difference between shooting at AC and GC where you are always “in rhythm”
G2T8 Jamie finished a standard tp to win +17tp, take down the American’s flagship pair and extend England’s lead to 9-4.
Death & Fisher played Balding & Soo with only Harry having won a match to date.
T1 Death 9y N of C4
T2 Soo Duffer Tice
T3 Fisher misses partner from C3
T4 Balding hits Duffer and makes a leave
T5 Death corners
The story of the rest of the game with a few turns missed out was that James went to 4-b and Tom also reached 4-b. Harry went to the peg and the lift was missed. James was hampered after penult. The Americans regained the innings and the English cornered. Jeff played an excellent pick up to get a standard tp from this, but ended up having a long straight peel at rover which he turned down and made a leave having pegged Harry out. They laid up in the middle of the E boundary with a rush for the peg ball in-lawn. James shot from C3 through to C4, missing. Jeff rushed to try and get the mid-lawn wire through h4, but only wired 1 ball. James shot from C4, missed the open ball but hit the wired ball and finished +3.
The English won game 2 +14 to move to the brink of victory at 10-4
Carter & Patel played Morgan & Rothman
T1 Morgan 9y N of C4
T2 Patel just S of C2
T3 Rothman misses partner from A-Baulk
T4 Carter misses from A-Baulk
T5 Rothman fails to go round finishing vaguely guarded near h1
T6 Carter corners leaving their balls in C2 and C4
T7 Morgan leaves a rush to h1 very tight near C1
T8 Patel shoots from C2 at wide double, missing.
T9 Morgan plays for a stop shot approach to h1, gets a 1 yard straight hoop and runs it by 16 yards getting a rush S on the ball he’d approached h1 off. Fails h2 off Patel, but wired, with partner at h1
T10 Patel shoots from N of h2 to partner in C4………misses to just N of c4.
T11 Rothman shoots from h1 to h2…….hits rushing it into h2 to make the take-off to C4 tricky. Copes and picks up a break before failing h6.
T12 Patel goes to 4-b with a diagonal spread
T13 Rothman missed the long lift to C4
T14 Carter goes to peg with no peels and a failed spread, finishing with a Samir’s ball in C4 and himself 4 yards N.
T15 Rothman took the open 9 yarder at the ball at the peg and hit. Ben made hoop 6 but somehow (might have hit a hoop coming out of C4) ended up with a 15 yard “rush” to 1-b which he missed.
T16 Samir missed.
T17 Stephen hit a 14 yarder at partner in C2 and took his h3 ball to 4-b with a reverse NSL. Recap 1-b + 4-b v 4-b + peg.
T18 Carter lifted the ball in 1-b and shot from C1, missing to C2.
T19 Ben picked up a break but failed rover to give Samir an easy finish.
T20 Samir finishes +5.
G2T1 Ben 12y N of C4
G2T2 Samir just S of C2
G2T3 Stephen hits partner from A-Baulk and took off to the ball in C2 going off 3 yards S of it at pace.
G2T4 Christian shoots at partner……..hits. Makes h1 but misses 3 yarder afterwards.
G2T5 Stephen shot at partner 20 yards away, missing and joining up.
G2T6 Christian takes 20 yarder at ball and a half……….misses.
G2T7 Ben goes to 4-b with a diagonal spread.
G2T8 Christian lifted the Westerly ball and shot at partner at the peg from A-Bailk missing to 10y W of C3.
G2T9. Stephen broke down at h4 with no peels.
G2T10 Christian fails to get going and makes a leave.
From here, I missed of play, but Ben eventually ran 4-b and missed a shot at a ball in C3. Christian started a dpo, got the first peel after h6 and then in his croquet stroke after 1-b finished just off the wire of penult, ran it, trying to flick off the wire to hit the pivot and went into A-Baulk giving Stephen everything.
Stephen had multiple attempts to get the peelee in front of rover, but never succeeded and laid up rover and peg v 1 + 2b with a defensive OSL (W ball on boundary). Christian lifted the in-lawn ball and hit the short lift and clanged 2-b off partner. This gave Ben a 14 yarder for the game, but he missed. Samir had a 5 yarder for a laid quintuple (😊). Samir hit and went to peg, pegging Stephen out. He laid up with the 2-b ball 3y S of C2 and his peg ball peg high on the W boundary.
Ben took the double and hit the near ball took off to get an ok rush to rover which he overcut to 5y NW of the peg. He rolled up to rover leaving a 4 yard hoop which he failed to a foot N of Christian.
Christian made a leave (unguarded) in the middle of the W boundary with Ben in C3. Ben shot, missing to give Christian a potential promotion rush on partner South. Christian played the promotion really well, moving partner 4 yards SE. He sent the rover ball in front of rover getting a rush to 2-b, but only rushed it 8 feet NE of 2-b. He approached well and ran the hoop with a rush and had a 3-ball break until he failed 4-b. Ben hit a 9 yarder, played a good take-off to get a rush to rover which he rushed to 8 feet W and under-approached to very angled and took wired position.
Samir shot from behind rover to partner 11y S of C3, but hilled off. Ben ran rover by 7 yards and shot at the opponent balls, which were a big target, missing.
Christian rushed badly to 4-b and sent Ben 2y SW of 2-b before joining up. Ben shot at the peg, hitting to equalise +5 at 4.54pm.
G3T1 Stephen 11y N of C4
G3T2 Samir just N of C4.
G3T3 Ben misses Samir leaving a double
G3T4 Christian misses double
G3T5 Ben over-approaches h1 and lays up with partner at h1.
G3T6 Christian hits a 25 yarder and goes to 4-b with an OSL.
G3T7 Stephen lifted the ball at h2 and missed the short lift.
G3T8 Samir went to peg with no peels attempted leaving Stephen 15y N of C4, Ben 7y S of h2 and laying up tight in C4.
G3T9 Stephen shot from where he lay and hit. But misapproached h1 off partner.
G3T10 Christian shot from h2 to partner in C4……..hits and finishes +26 to take the Test 11-4 with a day to spare. A good comeback for England having lost day 1. Winning by large margins could be important if no team wins all 3 Tests.
Aus v NZ Test
Wilson & Dumergue played Bryant & Clarke. Neither of the Aussies had won a match after 3 days.
T1 Ian nearly peg high on east boundary
T2 Greg just N of corner 4
T3 Edward missed to in contact with Greg’s ball
T4 Jenny missed south of the two
T5 Edward failed hoop 1 off partner
T6 Jenny missed 9 yarder at partner from north of hoop 4 to south boundary
T7 Edward to 4back with NSL.
T8 Black lifted from hoop 4 and Jenny shot at target from end of B baulk, hitting in-lawn ball. Failed hoop 1 off red (Ian)
T9 Ian missed the ball in the hoop
T10 Jenny ran 1 up to partner, rolled off 2, rushed north of 3 and failed 3.
T11 Edward missed
T12 Jenny went to 4b with an NSL
T13 Edward lifted the ball at hoop 4 and missed into corner 4
T14 Greg over-rolled to get a rush to 1 and joined partner north of hoop 2
T15 Ian missed partner from 2 to corner 4
T16 Greg hit 3 yarder, took off short and missed into corner 4
T17 Ian got a cannon, rushed well to hoop 1, declined a TP and went to the peg, putting black off setting the leave.
T18 Greg approached 1 with a roll and guarded all shots.
T19 Edward shot anyway, from east boundary to hoop 1 – hitting. Failed 4back.
T20 Greg missed from penult to 4b.
T21 Edward hit a 5.5 yarder and finished.
The second game was much higher quality. Edward went to 4-b with an NSL. Jenny hit and went to 4-b with an NSL and Ian hit and finished +17tp to level the match at 6-6.
The Fletchers played Chapman & Fordyce. Robbie, Malcolm and Edmund were all unbeaten after 3 days.
T1 Robbie supershot
T2 Paddy 19y S of C3
T3 Mal misses Paddy from C3 to C4
T4 Edmund hits Paddy from A-Baulk. Goes to 4-b with a diagonal spread, where he laid up only 6y N of C4.
T5 Robbie lifted the ball at the peg and took the short lift……missing.
T6 Paddy didn’t get the 4-b peel after h6, peeled 4-b before h6 but rushed 4 yards short and didn’t even get a possible hoop after his take-off came up short. He played a good scatter on partner. Recap 6+pen v 1+1
T7 Robbie hits an 11 yarder and picked up a break before missing a rush on his pivot to leave Paddy a 3 yarder with a ball near his hoop and a standard double peel.
T8 Paddy didn’t get the penult peel after h6 and failed to get the rush in front of pen for the death roll and failed to get the peel before 4-b ended up with a straight double which he completed to win the first +24.
G2T1 Paddy 9y N of C4
G2T2 Mal long Duffer Tice – maybe 12 yards
G2T3 Edmund shoots at partner down the E boundary………misses to C4
G2T4 Robbie centres the Duffer to h5. Takes off to oppo. Fails to get a rush to h1. Rolls off the hoop from distance, runs h1 but doesn’t get a rush to h2 and fails to approach from distance joining up with partner near h2 with oppos at h3 and h4
G2T5 Paddy shoots from h3 to h2……………..hit. Goes to 4-b with a diagonal spread.
G2T6 Robbie lifted the ball at the peg and took the short lift……..hits. Goes to 4-b with an NSL.
G2T7 Edmund lifts his ball at h2 and takes the short lift…….hits. Jawses 4-b after h3, death roll peels penult going to 2-b, has the peelee close to rover but overhits it and approaches the hoop to leave the option of a half jump or full jump. Plays a half jump, faults finishing rover and rover. That could be a turning point in the match and Test. It would have made it 7-5 to NZ.
G2T8 Mal peels 4-b after h3, death roll peels penult going to 2-b, fails 3-b. Recap 3-b + rover v rover + rover.
G2T9 Paddy has a 7 footer at maybe less than half a ball in a hoop or a 5 yarder. Takes the shot at the ball in 3-b…….misses giving Mal an easy finishing turn.
G2T10 Mal plays a poor croquet stroke sending partner to rover and fails to rush it in front of rover. Makes a leave for rover and peg v rover and rover. Edmund is 15y S of C2 and 1 yard in-lawn. Paddy is 4y E of the peg. Robbie is 3y N of C4 with a rush to rover.
G2T11 Edmund lifts his ball and takes the short lift…….misses.
G2T12 Robbie finishes to equalise +4.
G3T1 Mal to 11y N of C4
G3T2 Paddy to 1 foot N of C4
G3T3 Robbie missed from C3 to C4
G3T4 Edmund hit the ball in C4 from A-Baulk. Makes h1, fails h2 off partner.
G3T5 Robbie shoots from 3 to 2…………misses
G3T6 Edmund played an approach to h2 loading h3 and had another excellent ball to 4-b with a diagonal spread that was laid up 12y N of C4.
G3T7 Robbie lifted the ball at the peg and missed the long lift to C4.
G3T8 Paddy finishes the high pressure delayed tp to show both physical and mental strength after the disappointment of game 2. NZ lead 7-6.
Forster & McCormick played Webby & Westerby
T1 Forster 9y N of C4
T2 Westerby just S of C2
T3 McCormick shoots from C3 at partner missing into C4
T4 Webby misses Forster from A-Baulk.
T5 Forster goes to 4-b with MSL
T6 Aaron misses long lift with the ball at h4
T7 Dwayne over-approaches h1 off partner and guards C1 area
T8 Felix hits from h2 to h1. Breaks down at 2-b
The kiwis ended up winning game 1 +16
In the second, Stephen broke down at 4-b on a finishing turn allowing Felix to peg out Dwayne leaving 2b + peg v 4-b. Aaron quickly established a 3-ball break, but failed a short 4-b. Stephen hit an 8 yarder and finished +5.
The decider saw errors from Aaron at h3 and Stephen at 2-b before Dwayne went to the peg. Felix hit the lift and made a leave. He subsequently picked up a break after the Aussies cornered and was going round to peg out Dwayne when he failed penultimate. Stephen took full advantage of his contact and finished +14 to level the Test at 7-7 going into the final day.
It has been a wonderful Test to watch, swinging one way then the other. Each of tomorrow’s matches could go either way and it should be a great day for neutral spectators. Tomorrow’s match-ups are;
Robbie Fletcher v Paddy Chapman
Malcolm Fletcher v Jenny Clarke
Ed Wilson v Aaron Westerby
Dwayne McCormick v Felix Webby
Stephen Forster v Edmund Fordyce
Ian Dumergue v Greg Bryant
Potentially followed by the pegged down doubles between Dumergue & Wilson v Webby & Westerby on lawn 2.
Mac Day 3 - a comprehensive update from Chris Clarke
After a surprisingly dry day 2, we had heavy overnight rain. There was the odd puddle on the paths surrounding the lawns, but the lawns themselves had drained well and whilst a fair bit slower were perfectly playable. It was dry until 10.45 after which we had heavy rain on and off for the next 80 minutes followed by a torrential downpour which started flooding some lawns. Play resumed on most of the lawns just after 1.30pm.
I’ve tried to provide a bit more detail on games today so that you can get a feel for the overall standard of play.
England vs USA
The strength of the USA team is their two strong doubles pairs and it was crucial that they achieved a 2-1 win in today's doubles which would enable them to reduce the deficit from 3-6 to 5-7.
Essick & Watson played Death & Fisher and it was turn 8 before anyone took croquet. Matthew took this opportunity and went to 4-b with a poor attempt at a diagonal spread that left James a 9 yarder, which James missed. Zack finished a good tp.
Game 2 saw a supershot from Zack, Harry played just N of C4, Matt missed his 13 yarder not leaving a double and James missed his 12 yarder at the supershot. Matt failed h1 giving Harry a break which broke down at h3 with a hoop clang. Zack went to 4-b with a flat reverse NSL. James missed from C1 to C2 and Matt finished his triple to take the match before 11.30am. and make it USA 4, England 6.
Rothman & Morgan played Avery & Burch (which feels the most natural of the English pairings to me). The English pair won +20, +17 to extend the lead to 7-4 – a really key match win.
Balding and Soo played Carter & Patel. Tom failed h3 early on allowing Christian to reach 4-b. Samir completed a tp, finishing with a straight double. The second game was much scrappier with Jeff Soo having a chance of a triple before the English eventually won +10.
England take an 8-4 lead into day 4 and create the possibility of wrapping the Test up tomorrow if they win the doubles 3-0.
Australia vs New Zealand
In the Aus v NZ match, Australia trailed 3-2 overnight and would have been aiming for at least 4 wins in today's singles to retake the lead.
Dwayne McCormick played Aaron Westerby. Aaron had the first break but broke down at 3-b allowing Dwayne to reach 4-b, but the leave was poor – to use some jargon, it was a sort of southern cross – this is an attempted NSL (or leave with opponents at hoops 2 and 4) where the ball at hoop 4 is hittable from A-Baulk and can also hit the 8 yarder at opponent, so the striker plays the 4-b ball into C2 with his last shot. Aaron took a 10 yarder at the ball in C2 with his h1 ball, hit but couldn’t get going immediately and Dwayne cornered.
Aaron controlled the lawn for a while before picking up a break which broke down at 3-b again. Dwayne finished a good tp to take the first +10tp.
In game 2, Dwayne played a really good cannon to 1+2 from the E boundary 5th turn to get a break but missed a 5 yarder before h3. Aaron missed a 14 yarder and Dwayne continued his break to 4-b with an MSL. Aaron missed the defensive shot to C4.
Following the rain delay, Dwayne played some good large croquet strokes and completed a very good triple peel to win the match and level the Test at 3-3.
Edward Wilson played Felix Webby and after early errors from both players, Felix reached 5 & 4-b against 1 & 2 and Edward missed the lift. Felix took his h5 ball to the peg with a solid 4 ball break. Edward took a defensive 18 yard lift, missing. Felix did well to pick up a break but missed a slightly hampered 5 yarder after penult to allow Ed back in with his h2 ball which he took to 4-b with an NSL. Felix lifted his ball for rover at h2 and shot from A-baulk, missing. Ed failed h1 and Felix hit a 5 yarder at 85% of a ball with his peg ball. Ed missed the leave and Felix took the first +17.
Game 2 saw misses 2nd, 3rd and 4th turn to leave Felix with all 4 balls within a few feet 9 yards N of C4. Felix obtained a cannon and played the promotion to h1 and reached 4-b with an OSL with a ball on the W boundary. Ed lifted the mid-lawn ball took the defensive 20 yarder from C1 missing to C2. Felix was unable to get going and made a leave. Ed missed a 20 yarder and Felix picked up a standard tp, peeling 4-b after h3, but was hampered on his escape ball and shot at his h4 pioneer, missing.
Ed hit an 8 yarder, picked up a break well before getting partially wired on his h3 pioneer and missing. Felix took his penultimate ball to the peg and cross-wired Ed at h4, laying up on the W boundary just S of C2 5 yards apart. Astonishingly, Ed shot at the backward ball and Felix completed his 4-ball break to win +24 and give NZ the lead once again at 4-3.
Malcolm Fletcher played Paddy Chapman. Paddy reached 4-b first with a fairly horizontal spread (playing on lawn 2, the long lift hills badly off-lawn) and Malcolm missed the shot from B-Baulk into C4. Paddy made h1 by a long way and couldn’t get going having hit partner at h2 and finished with his clip on h3. Malcolm hit a 23 yarder but played a poor first croquet stroke and ended up trying to roll up to h1 from 20 yards N of C1. An excellent roll gave him a 5 foot straight hoop which he ran to peg high and missed his 9 yard return roquet.
Paddy missed from h1 to partner at h2. Malcolm hit a 17 yarder at partner giving him 2 balls at his hoop which was enough to get Malcolm to 4-b with a reverse MSL. Paddy lifted his backward ball and made a target from B-Baulk with the ball in h2, hitting the right-hand wire of h2 and going off the W boundary 5 yards N of Malcolm.
Malcolm picked up a break, but played a poor approach to h3, failing to get peelee into position and ended up reaching the peg with one peel and a reverse horizontal spread, where the ball at the peg (for h3) had a hampered 12 yarder which Paddy hit. Paddy picked up a delayed tp well, but failed h5 to give Malcolm an easy finish to take game 1 +12
Game 2 started with a supershot from Malcolm which quickly degenerated into chaos. Paddy was unable to hit multiple shots and Malcolm had multiple chances to go round, ending up on h4. Paddy missed again and Malcolm took his h4 ball to 4-b with a reverse NSL.
Paddy lifted the ball at h2 and shot from C1, missing to just S of C2. Malcolm made h1, but was hampered and narrowly missed partner near C3. Paddy played into C1 and Malcolm played his 4-b ball and made a leave, without moving Paddy’s balls in C1 + C2. Paddy moved his ball in C2 to C4 and Malcolm tried to roll off h2 from C1, returned to partner leaving Paddy a fairly free 20 yarder with two balls at h1 which he hit, but broke down at h3. Malcolm hit a 3 yarder with his 4-b ball and made a leave. Paddy hit a 19 yarder with his h1 ball, but failed h3, giving Malcolm a standard tp. However, Malcolm failed the 4-b peel after h3 and settled for a ball to the peg with a reverse OSL.
Paddy missed the short lift and Malcolm failed 4-b. Paddy hit half a ball at 4 yards and went to the peg, pegging out Malcolm to leave 3 + peg v 4-b. Paddy left his peg ball in C4 and his h3 ball 21 yards N of C1. Malcolm took croquet from the h3 ball and rolled up to get an 8 foot fairly straight 4-b which he ran to the boundary leaving him a 5 yard “rush” to N of penult. Malcolm rushed this to h2 and approached pen to 5 foot straight. He ran penult hard, but it hit the peg leaving him a short shot and an approach to rover from just NW of the peg. He approached to 5 foot fairly straight and ran it to take the match +12 and level the scores at 4-4. A good turn under pressure.
Ian Dumergue played Edmund Fordyce. Edmund reached rover and peg fairly quickly, but Ian responded with a break to 4-b and after Edmund missed the lift had a good chance to finish before failing h3 giving Edmund an easy finish to win the first +15.
Ian went to 4-b first in the second but broke down after making h1 and Edmund hit and went to 4-b. Ian hit the lift and went to peg with 1 peel. Edmund hit a 30-yard double from B-Baulk and went to the peg with one peel. Ian missed a 13 yarder and Edmund finished to win +4 and retake the lead for NZ 5-4
Stephen Forster played Greg Bryant. In game 1, Stephen had a duffer, Greg shot into corner 4. Stephen missed. Greg hit into corner 4, went to 4b with a spread. Stephen missed the lift. Greg drifted past a 3 yarder at hoop 5. Stephen went to 4b. Greg missed the lift. Stephen failed hoop 2. Greg hit, rushed Stephen through 2 and went to the peg with a spread. Stephen missed and Greg finished +15
Game 2, Stephen east boundary, Greg corner 2. Stephen missed. Greg missed down to corner 4. Stephen went to 4b. Greg missed down the line. Stephen finished to win +26tp.
Game 3, Greg east boundary, Stephen duffer. Greg shot down missing into corner 4. Stephen hit the duffer, took off to northernmost ball of Greg’s, went out taking off to the ball in corner 4. Greg went to 4b with an NSL. Stephen lifted the ball on hoop 4, nicked the lift down the line. Went to 4b with a spread. Greg hit the lift down the line. Greg started a standard TP, peeled 4b after 3, just through the hoop. Failed to get pioneer for 5 anywhere near it. (4y E, and no rush out of 4). Rushed back up the lawn, rushed peelee back through hoop 3. Ended up making 1b off peelee. Rushed across and put it into the jaws of penult from the non-playing side and then failed 2back from nowhere, offering Stephen a 5y double with his hoop 1 ball. Stephen hit his double and embarked on a standard TP, which was going well until he failed 1b from a foot. Greg took his penult ball to the peg, laid up in corner 1 with Stephen NE of hoop 1 (wired from him) and the other ball about 2 yards short of hoop 3. Stephen shot at partner missing into corner 3. Greg 2balled 2b and 3b, and finished, not using the ball in corner 3 to win +10 and take the first 2 point lead of the Test 6-4.
Robbie Fletcher played Jenny Clarke. Robbie hit and went round 4th turn. Jenny hit and failed h1 5th turn. Robbie missed turn 6. Jenny went to 4-b, Robbie missed, Jenny jawsed the 4-b peel after h3 but still had no peels on her way to the peg. Robbie hit the lift and failed 3-b with 1 peel done and Jenny finished +7.
In game 2, Jenny went round 5th turn. Robbie hit the long lift and finished 8th turn + 17tp.
Jenny hit 3rd turn of the decider, made a leave and went round 5th turn after Robbie missed. Robbie missed the long lift and Jenny went to the peg without attempting any peels and made a too diagonal cross pegging. Robbie hit the short lift and went round pegging out Jenny leaving his h1 ball 5.5 yards S of C2 and his peg ball 6 yards W of C4. Jenny took off from the peg ball to the h1 ball and went off the lawn. Robbie laid up near C4 with Jenny near C2. Jenny shot, missed and Robbie finished +4 to leave the Test tantalisingly poised at Aus 5, NZ 6.
Tomorrow both Tests play 3 doubles.
I should mention how good the volunteers have been. 6 lawns mown each day, 72 hoops set (no wedges so far despite the large number of hoop clangs), fabulous catering, livestreaming, commentary, Gareth’s in-game updates and a congenial manager. It’s been a great start. Chris
Mac Day 2 - by Chris Clarke
England started day 2 with two fairly quick wins for Samir Patel against Jeff Soo and Jamie Burch against Stephen Morgan to take a 3-2 lead in the Test.
Harry Fisher v Matthew Essick was a good quality match. Harry had the first third turn ball round of tthe event, but was TPO’ed by Matthew who took the first. Harry equalised and again had a third turn ball round in the decider, only for Matthew to hit the lift, but he misapproached hoop 1 and failed an angled jump leaving a variety of 9 yarders. Harry missed his subsequent 9 yarder for the match and Matthew hit his 9 yarder and picked up a break before a bad croquet stroke after 1-b left him a 4 yarder which he missed into Baulk giving Harry a standard tp which he duly finished for a massive win for England and a 4-2 lead.
Mark Avery v Ben Rothman went to the third and Ben had the first break to 4-b. Mark hit and replied in kind. Ben missed his lift, but Mark’s triple never really got going and he ended up 4-b and peg. Ben missed the lift and Mark finished from 4-b to extend the lead to 5-2.
On lawn 9, Zack Watson was lifting American spirits by beating James Death in the first +5. The second found Zack peg alone against James on peg and peg and the Englishman duly equalised +1 to really put the pressure on the Yanks. In the decider, James went to 4-b, Zack hit the lift and also went to 4-b. James missed the lift and Zack completed a standard tp to close the score to Eng 5, USA 3.
The remaining match between Christian Carter and Tom Balding was…..well….ummm…..not quite as high quality. Christian won the first +4 after 5 hours and 54 minutes (including lunch). Even a reporter of my experience will not make any effort to try and talk you through any part of the game. The second game was quicker, finishing at 5.54pm and resulted in a +11 win for Christian and a great day for the English as they went from 1-2 to 6-3.
In the Aus v NZ match, Malcolm and Robbie Fletcher once again made errors, but Aaron Westerby and Felix Webby were unable to capitalise and lost in straight games to give Australia a 2-1 lead in the Test.
Edward Wilson and Ian Dumergue played against Paddy Chapman and Edmund Fordyce. Paddy failed triples in the first two games, but won the first and should have lost the second. However, Ian failed penult on a break to finish and Edmund clinched the match in straight games to equalise the Test at 2-2.
Stephen Forster & Dwayne McCormick played Jenny Clarke and Greg Bryant. In the first, Stephen Forster managed to get cross-wired from both his rover pioneers with all 3 peels of his triple complete. Greg Bryant failed 4-b with the final two peels still to do and Stephen finished to go game up.
Jenny had the first break to 4-b in the second, but Stephen hit a hampered 6 yarder through 3-b and also went to 4-b. Greg hit the lift, but misapproached hoop 5 and failed an angled jump. Stephen made a good leave which Jenny hit and made a good leave for Greg. Dwayne missed and Greg played a break to the peg but was hampered after rover and had a difficult hampered shot – a sweep through the hoop, which he made look easy. His leave offered a range of 11-13 yarders for the hoop 1 ball or a defensive 20 yarder with the peg ball. Dwayne hit his 11 yarder, but misapproached h1 and joined 8 yards from partner. Jenny missed an 18 yarder, Dwayne missed his 8 yarder, Jenny missed her 7 yarder and Stephen missed a 24 yarder joining up. Jenny missed a 20 yarder and Dwayne went to the peg with an increasingly ambitious attempt at a triple, which ended up with one peel. When he reached the peg, he accidentally overhit his croquet stroke when pegging Greg out and followed through onto the peg himself to leave Stephen in a one ball game against Jenny penult v 4-b.
Jenny hit a 6 yarder to 6 yards West of the peg, rolled up to leave a 3 yard 30 degree 4-b and bounced off 3 yards E. Stephen took 3 yard straight position at penult wired from Jenny. Jenny took 8 foot 25 degree position SE at 4-b. Stephen failed pen finishing a foot ENE of pen. Jenny took 1 foot straight position at 4-b where Stephen’s shot was hampered.
Stephen took close position at pen. Jenny failed 4-b to the jaws. Stephen ran pen past rover and took 1 yard slightly angled position at rover. Jenny ran 4-b and took 4 foot 25 degree position at pen. Stephen failed rover to unrunnable. Jenny took tight wired position at pen.
Stephen played 11 yards W of rover. Jenny ran pen to 2 yards past rover and we had every chance of an impasse, but Jenny took position at rover. Stephen took his 11 yarder and missed. Jenny ran rover to 12.5 yards E of C1 and dribbled at the peg, hilling 2 feet to hit on the final roll to take the match to a third game.
The Kiwis took a multi error third game at 7.25pm +25 to lead 3-2 overnight.
Mac Day 1 - by Chris Clarke
The first day of a Mac is usually fascinating and today had it all. A three TP match, pegged out endings - deliberate and accidental, failed hoops and short misses, there was always something interesting happening. Some matches were over in a couple of hours, others started the final game after 8 hours of play.
After day 1, the underdogs have got off to a good start. In a day where the standard of shooting was low, Rothman and Morgan were the standout shots hitting in on several occasions to beat Death and Fisher in straight games.
Avery and Burch were quick to make it 1-1 despite Jamie missing a 3 yard peg out when trying to peg out the opponent and following on and pegging himself out. This left Mark on hoop five against 2 and peg and he was eventually able to scrape over the line.
The final match featured the best US pairing on paper, Essick and Watson against Carter and Patel. It should have been a straight game win to the English, but Samir was unable to take any of his opportunities to finish with a TP in the second and then Christian failed his chances in the decider. The Americans had a bad shooting match which I doubt will happen again and will feel fortunate to have escaped with a win.
In the Aus v NZ match, the Fletchers had an easy win after some poor play from Clarke and Bryant with Jenny in particular having some easy opportunities. The best match of the day was probably Forster & McCormick v Chapman & Fordyce. There were multiple errors, but it was balanced by three triples, one from Forster and the others by Chapman. After a scrappy start to the decider, McCormick went to 4-b, Fordyce hit the lift and Chapman finished after Forster narrowly missed the lift.
The match Dumergue & Wilson v Webby & Westerby was a marathon. Game one stopped for lunch after 4 hours of play and game 2 finished after 8 hours. The decider saw the Kiwis look like winning +26TP before Aaron failed 4-b with 2 peels done. Edward went to 4-b, but Felix hit the lift and made a leave which saw the Aussies corner. The match was pegged down after 10 hours and 48 minutes.
Tomorrow will have six singles in the Eng v USA match and three doubles in Aus v NZ. After a dry day today, rain is expected tomorrow.
Practice Day 1 - a report by Chris Clarke
Good morning from a bright and sunny Cairnlea. Today is the first official practice day for the four teams, so I thought I'd try and set the scene for what promises to be one of the best MacRobertson Shields in its long history.
Firstly, a bit about the venue. Cairnlea (the Victorian Croquet Centre) has 12 lawns and a large modern clubhouse with high glass windows making for excellent viewing. Financial issues had led to the discussion of mothballing the venue and I should mention a few key volunteers who have worked tirelessly to keep it up and running. Apologies if I miss someone out, but Lester Hughes, Kevin Beard, Chris Grant, Andrew Wootton and Stephen Forster have all put in sterling work. If you are a member of a 2, 3 or 4 lawn club, you'll understand how much work is needed on the lawns alone - imagine what it takes to keep 12 lawns looked after.
The lawns are quite variable. The front four (1-4) are usually faster than the others because they get used more. Lawn 2 has some large hills both generally and localised, but the other 3 are flatter. Lawns 5, 6 and 7 run down the left hand side and lawns 8, 9 and 10 up the right hand side. Lawns 11 and 12 are often termed Siberia as they are the furthest away on the top side and are usually the slowest. All of the lawns drain well and even when flooded can be back in action in under half an hour.
The past few weeks have seen torrential rain throughout Victoria. Cairnlea has been flooded on 5 occasions and the lawns are still soft. However, 3 good days of weather could easily see them reach 12 seconds (probably about 10 at present), so we could have very different playing conditions almost day by day. The main protection that Cairnlea has is the occasional windy day. It was noticeable in the Aussie Open that the error count increased substantially when we had higher winds.
So, what's going to happen? The tournament starts on Saturday 12th.
Days 1-5 will have Australia v NZ and England v USA
Day 6 is a rest day
Day 7 -11 will have the winners of the above matches play the losers.
Day 12 is a rest day
Day 13-17 will have the remaining two Tests.
Each Test is best of 21 matches, each of which will be best of 3 untimed. There will be 9 doubles and 12 singles, meaning all the doubles pairs will play against each other and you'll play 2 of the opposing team at singles, so 1+2, 3+4 and 5+6 will all play their opposites. This can make a difference when it comes to deciding the order in which you play your team. Teams are meant to be ordered by current form and there is a new rule this year that you can't play above a fellow team member who is ranked 100 points higher than you.
Team orders for the first Tests will be given to the manager, Kevin Beard, on Friday afternoon.
Whilst we currently have a beautiful day with an expected temperature of 28 degrees, the forecast for the next few days includes plenty of rain, with temperatures dropping to 15 on some days.
Play starts at 9am Melbourne time on Saturday and will be live streamed. More details to follow.
by Chris Clarke (9th November)
An article by Chris Clarke - early preview
By Chris Clarke (The WCF would like to thank Chris for agreeing to share his interesting article, recently posted to the Notts list, with the wider croquet community via this website.)
Now that all four MacRobertson Shield teams have been announced, I thought I’d write an early preview of the event which is due to take place in November at Cairnlea, Melbourne.
It is five years since Australia won in the searing heat of Mission Hills, California, and I for one am eagerly awaiting this year’s renewal. On paper, this should be the closest quadrangular series ever. For the first time, I believe all four teams have a genuine chance of winning the historic trophy. I have provided a brief overview of each team, together with potential strengths and weaknesses below.
Defending champions and hosts, Australia, have two new faces to add to four of their 2017 team. Edward Wilson is a rising star who won the NZ Open as a teenager and reached the semi-final of the last Worlds before losing 3-2 to Bamford. Dwayne McCormick has been around longer, but is also still improving, putting together a 37-game winning streak in 2020.
Robert Fletcher heads the team and in my opinion is the strongest of the 24 players. His Mac record isn’t as good as he would like, having won 7/15, 9/13 and 11/15 in his three appearances. If he can win 13/15 this year, he should provide the base for Australia to retain their title. Some members of the team have played little croquet since the start of Covid and will be looking to shake off the rust prior to November.
Fielding their least experienced team since 1996, England still have the highest average grade of the four teams. Remarkably, only one of their team has ever won the MacRobertson Shield – the evergreen Mark Avery, now playing better than ever. Mark is a wonderful player to have in any side, with a relaxed manner and should be a massive asset. The two debutants are both strong players. Harry Fisher reached the QF of the last Worlds and will provide a solid base playing at 5 or 6. Christian Carter possesses more flair and should have won last season’s Presidents Cup after a strong start. With only three class 2 event wins to his name, there remains a question mark about his play under pressure, but I believe that it is only a matter of time before he wins his first major title. James Death, despite being the lowest ranked of the English team, remains one of the most talented and dangerous players on the planet.
With four of their 2013/14 winning side once again present, this NZ side represents a genuine threat. Paddy Chapman, now back in NZ after a lengthy stay in Nottingham is a formidable opponent. The team has two debutants, both past U21 GC World Champions – Felix Webby and Edmund Fordyce. Felix reached the QF of the last AC Worlds and Edmund reached the final of the 2020 NZ Open. However, their lack of tournament play is best shown by their peeling stats below.
|New Zealand||Grade||Mac Wins/Played||TPs|
The majority of the NZ side are currently short of match play, with many events having been cancelled over the past couple of years and competitive AC events becoming fewer. NZ have a history of finishing strongly, but they won’t be able to afford a slow start if they are to repeat their success of 8 years ago.
The USA team is, in my opinion, their best ever. Matthew Essick and Ben Rothman should both be familiar names to everyone, and they are both world class. Remarkably, they aren’t their top two ranked players as Zack Watson is also very highly ranked, having won the USA top invitation. The selectors took a gamble with debutant Thomas Balding, winner of the 2nd Invitation with 7 TPs, ahead of players who did well in the top invitation. I think it is a bold move, with Sherif Abdelwahab (8 wins in the top 8) unlucky to be omitted. Jeff Soo plays in his sixth Mac and should be able to play at number 5 rather than the higher positions he has had to fill in past years.
One of the reasons I particularly like the USA team is that I think they have natural doubles pairings in Rothman/Morgan and Essick/Watson. With 9 of the 15 days being doubles, this is always a key element in any Mac.
The USA have the lowest ranked team, but I think Rothman is under-ranked having played less croquet in recent time as he focussed on family responsibilities. He’s probably closer to a 2520 player and that gives the USA just a glimmer of hope of winning for the first time.
As things stand now, the rough likelihood of each team winning, ignoring home/geographical advantage, is approximately;
New Zealand 15%
This makes it the closest quadrangular series ever. Could it be the first quadrangular series where no team scores 15 in any Test? Perhaps it will be won with just 2 Test wins? Doubles pairings will be crucial, and it is far from certain what the top three teams will choose. Melbourne has a tendency of being able to produce all four seasons, so the players will need to be able to adapt. If you fancy a trip to Melbourne in November, remember to bring a flag to wave and enjoy some great croquet.
This event will be held at the Victorian Croquet Centre (VCC), Cairnlea, Melbourne, Australia between 12th to 29th November 2022.
The four eligible nations of Australia, England, New Zealand and the United States will compete for The MacRobertson Shield.
The draw will be as per the WCF 2022 MacRobertson Regulations. In brief:
Round 1: Saturday, 12th to Wednesday, 16th November 2022
Rest Day: Thursday, 17th November 2022
Round 2: Friday, 18th to Tuesday, 22nd November 2022
Rest Day: Wednesday, 23rd November 2022
Round 3: Thursday, 24th to Monday, 28th November 2022
Resolution Day: Tuesday, 29th November 2022 - to complete unfinished games, if required
Practice: Courts available at VCC Thursday, 10th November 2022 and courts may be available at croquet clubs in the near vicinity.
WCF Event Lead: Graeme Roberts
Tournament Director: Mike Cohn
Tournament Manager: Kevin Beard
Tournament Referee: Mike Cohn
Secretarial: Jim Clement (ACA Board Secretary)
Financial: ACA Finance
- Scores: Scores will be reported online via Croquetscores
- Website: An event specific website will be developed
- Live Streaming: Croquet Victoria hope to provide live streaming. More information to follow.
Welcome Ceremony: Friday, 11th November 2022, from 17:00 (free of charge to players).
Event Dinner: Monday, 28th November 2022 from 19:00. Players to purchase tickets.
Award Ceremony: Monday, 28th or Tuesday 29th November 2022 as appropriate, immediately following conclusion of play.