2022 AC World Team Championship Tier 1: The MacRobertson Shield

This event will be held at the Victorian Croquet Centre (VCC), Cairnlea, Melbourne, Australia between 12th to 29th November 2022. 

A meeting was held on 27th April 2022 to discuss the impact of the pandemic. Following a relaxation of the pandemic rules in Victoria state, it was agreed that this event WILL GO AHEAD as planned. This decision will of course be reassessesd should the pandemic conditions take a turn for the worse.

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.

Event Management:

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

Publicity

    • 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.

Functions

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.

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.

Australia 

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.

 

Australia Grade Mac Wins/Played TPs
Robert Fletcher 2735 1/3 691
Malcolm Fletcher 2546 1/2 196
Edward Wilson 2534 0/0 96
Dwayne McCormick 2415 0/0 350
Ian Dumergue 2327 1/4 414
Stephen Forster 2272 1/5 565
Average Grade 2472 4/14 2312

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.

England 

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.

England Grade Mac Wins/Played TPs
Mark Avery 2541 3/4 891
Jamie Burch 2500 0/2 289
Harry Fisher 2486 0/0 111
Christian Carter 2481 0/0 115
Samir Patel 2443 0/2 459
James Death 2453 0/2 481
2484 3/10 2346

New Zealand 

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
Paddy Chapman 2661 1/4 490
Jenny Clarke 2496 1/3 321
Aaron Westerby 2457 1/3 292
Felix Webby 2425 0/0 15
Edmund Fordyce 2334 0/0 8
Greg Bryant 2320 1/5 504
2449 4/15 1630

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.

USA 

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.

USA Grade Mac Wins/Played TPs
Matthew Essick 2573 0/1 146
Zack Watson 2491 0/0 60
Ben Rothman 2401 0/3 483
Jeff Soo 2315 0/5 300
Stephen Morgan 2303 0/1 73
Thomas Balding 2282 0/0 22
2394 0/10 1084

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.


Summary

As things stand now, the rough likelihood of each team winning, ignoring home/geographical advantage, is approximately;

England 43%
Australia 39%
New Zealand 15%
USA 3%

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.

Chris Clarke