The UK have announced the final team to play the South Africans on the 18th and 19th of July and the only big shock in the team is the omission of Greg Sargeant from the Men’s squad. The UK coaches for the test match series, Ross Turnbull for the men and Doug Webb for the Ladies, watched all the players at the Great Northern Tournament at the weekend and then named their squads based on what they had seen there.
Greg Sargeant, affectionately known as “Sarge” or “Chunderboy”, represented the UK against the Australians in 2008 and played for them in the Quadrangular tournament that took place earlier this year in Australia. He was born in Zimbabwe but had lived in the UK for a number of years, eventually gaining the right to play for the United Kingdom. Before doing so he was the UK’s open squad coach, taking the UK to second place in the World cup in 2007, and in his younger days he played for Zimbabwe, once scoring a ten goal chukka against the South Africans for Zimbabwe.
To not select a man of his experience and physical presence seems strange, he knows how the South Africans will want to play more than anyone else as he has faced the South African players many times over the years. He has been looking on form lately as well, being part of an Arden team that has won two A grades in a row. The South Africans will no doubt be glad that Greg is not in the side; it remains to be seen if the UK fans will be as happy when the test matches are over.
However, as upset as Greg must be for himself he must be delighted for his Arden team mate and long term friend Hamish Michael, who wins back his place in the squad after being dropped for the Quadrangular series and barely featuring in the test match series against the Australians in 2008. Hamish is another former Zimbabwean who has lived in the UK for a long time and gained the right to play for them. His ommision from the Quadrangular tour earlier this year struck many fans as a mistake, as the Australians rated him as one of the UK’s best players when he did play against them in 2008 and in the 2007 World cup.
Along with re calling Hamish, Ross Turnbull has opted for calling up a number of the UK’s youngsters with Danny Duhig, Jono Keen and James Robertson all receiving their first full call ups. The other places in the Men’s team are filled by the other members of the team who went to Australia this year alongside Greg; Jason Webb, Guy Robertson and Martin Brookes. It will be interesting to see how Ross Turnbull uses these players against the South Africans, whether he sticks with using Jason Webb at number 3, like he did at the Quadrangular, or whether the 3 spots are taken by players such as Martin Brookes and Jono Keen, releasing Jason Webb to play a number 1.
In the ladies team there are no real surprises, Sophie Lodder, Sarah Simkin and Debbie Harris must have had their names on the team sheets in indelible ink a long time ago and after that it is simply a case of working the way down the top ladies players in the country. Lucy Shell and Charlotte Pykett, who were the impact players for the UK ladies section in the last World Cup and the Quadrangular tournament respectively, are both in the team and also Kerry Bean gets a recall after a number of years out.
Kerry last played against the USA in 2002 but then took a few years out from the sport and on her return three years ago she initially played in lower grades. However, now she seems to be back to her best form and has earnt herself another UK cap.
The other lady player is Annie Waterer. Annie, along with her brother Will, were two of the brightest young stars of UK polocrosse’s under 16’s and under 21’s teams in their younger days but then over the last five years they have only played intermittently. Will has not played in the last few years but Annie has played more and more over the last three seasons and spent a lot of time out in Australia playing out there. She has looked on brilliant form this year for Kent Target and hopefully she will show similar form for the UK.