The UK polocrosse team’s hopes of success in the Quadrangular tournament, taking place in Australia in April, have suffered a triple blow as Beth Peaker, Lucy Shell and Hamish Michael have all withdrawn from the UK squad. The UK’s long term squad development plans have also been damaged by the news that Beth Peaker now intends to move to New Zealand to try and stake a place in their National team.
Beth was one of the UK’s great, young hopes; she played in the UK development squad which defeated the Americans in October 2008 and represented the UK at under 21 level on a number of occasions. She is a tough and fearless player who never gives up, reminiscent of Shelley King and Kerry Bean. Now the UK could potentially play against her in the Quadrangular in April and in the future.
Beth has played a winter season in New Zealand for the last few years and is dating New Zealand star Shane Hill. She is also good friends with Rick Murray, who played for the UK before also switching to New Zealand in 2007. It’s believed that she has decided that her future lies in New Zealand and therefore has decided it makes sense to withdraw from the UK squad now and start trying to win a place in the New Zealand ladies side.
The withdrawal of Lucy Shell as ladies reserve has deepened the crisis for the UK and they have now called up Charlotte Pykett as their fourth UK lady player. Charlotte is another of the UK young hopes and was captain of the ladies who won in America in the Autumn 2008. At the moment the UK have not named a new reserve and it is possible that they will go to the Quadrangular tournament without one.
The UK, however, are not strangers to playing without back up, they went to the 2007 World Cup without a ladies reserve after Sophie Lodder broke her arm. At that event the UK played three lady players for most of their five matches and ended up finishing in second place. On that occasion they had the formidable Shelley King leading the line but she is now married and expecting her first child and so is unavailable for selection. This means there is the possibility of a repeat on the 2008 tests against Australia, when Sophie Lodder, Debbie Harris and Sarah Simkin played the majority of the test series. Those three now have a great deal of hope resting on their shoulders if the UK are to hold on to their number 2 spot in the world rankings and to show the world that they still have potentially the best ladies side on the planet.
The withdrawal of Hamish Michael as mens reserve is another blow. Hamish represented the UK at the 2007 World Cup and against the Australians in 2008 and is a vastly experienced player. Danny Duhig has been called up as men’s reserve to replace him.