After months of waiting and debate finally the decision has been made and the team to face the Australians later this year will be Greg Sargeant, Guy Robertson, Hamish Michael, Martin Brookes, Sophie Lodder, Sarah Simkin, Lucy Shell and Debbie Harris.
The four men were what most people expected, they are all very experienced and three of them (Guy, Hamish and Martin) were in the UK World Cup team. Greg Sargeant receives his first UK cap but he was the coach of the World Cup squad and was probably only not in it because he was not a full UK citizen at the time. Now that he is officially British he is a natural choice to replace his close friend Jason Burbidge (who was World Cup Captain but has not played competitive polocrosse since) and will probably start in the number one role. He has played alongside Hamish for years and the two link very well together. At the final trials on the Arden weekend Dan Duhig was on very good form and the opinion on the sideline seemed to be that he might earn his first senior mens call up. Ultimately, however,the selectors went with experience over youthful vigour.
The ladies section is slightly more surprising as it contains Lucy Shell ahead of Ruth Jones. Lucy did play at the World Cup, where she came in as reserve for the injured Sophie Lodder, but she only featured in one match and many thought that for this test series that Ruth Jones was a natural choice to come into replace Shelley King, who withdrew from the squad for medical reasons earlier this year. Without Shelley it would now seem likely that Sophie Lodder will play at number one in the test series. If, however, anything should happen to her or she should be off form there are no other top number ones in the squad to replace her. Both Sarah and Debbie are brilliant at 2 and 3 but neither have played regularly at number 1 for years and Lucy is also normally found at 2 or 3. However the UK got to the World Cup final by only ever playing Shelley at number 1 so as long as Sophie can fill her shoes it should work out okay.
The problem the UK have is that they are facing a incredibly strong Australian side, however, they do have home advantage and will be more familiar with the horses they are playing than the Australians are. The problem is that the Australians are expert horsemen and women and will probably not struggle to make the horses in the pools play to the top of their ability. With this in mind it might be too much to expect the UK to defeat the Australians. That is why it might have been a good idea to give Dan his first UK mens cap and let him get experience against the very best in the world. It might also have allowed the UK to play in a more African style. Dan has played alongside Hamish and Greg for years and the three of them can played very fast polocrosse, the kind of polocrosse that the South Africans nearly beat the Australians with in their World Cup semi final clash in 2007. However, then the selectors would have had the problem of who to leave out, Greg is needed for his pure strength and experience, Guy is an absolutely brilliant all rounder and one of the best attacking threes around, Hamish can produce moments of sheer magic when catching and throwing the ball and Martin has showed on countless occasions that he is a rock in defence. Certainly, on an individual level, this mens squad is the strongest possible UK one but whether it will be strong enough remains to be seen