The United Kingdom has announced their World Cup team for 2011, as they attempt to go one better than they did in 2007 and lift the cup which will be played on their home soil for the first time. When the UK picked their 16 person squad there were a few surprises in there but in the end the actual team was mostly more predictable, it features four previous World Cup players for the UK, 2 men and 2 ladies, and then 4 players who will get their first taste of World Cup action.
Perhaps the biggest surprises are the inclusion of Lizzie Shearing in the Ladies’ and Jason Burbidge in the Men’s team. Lizzie returns to the UK team for the first time since she played against the South African Ladies in 2005, though since then she has got married and had a child which meant she didn’t put her name forwards for squads for a few years. Jason hasn’t played for the UK since he captained them to second spot in the World Cup in 2007 and many people thought he had hung up his international boots but now he has got his recall and will become the first UK man to play at three World Cups. He won’t be the Captain this time around as Jason Webb has been chosen as Men’s Captain.
The other three ladies who join Lizzie are Debbie Harris, who will become the first UK lady to play at three World Cups, Sarah Simkin, who is the UK Ladies’ Captain, she played in 2007 World Cup and looked on incredible form against the Irish ladies in the summer of 2010, and Charlotte Pykett, who has performed well in recent test match series at number 1 against South Africa and Ireland and will probably be the lady who gets the unenviable task of trying to fill the World Cup UK Ladies’ goalscorer boots left vacant by Shelley Yirrell (nee King).
In the men’s team Jason Burbidge is joined by Jason Webb, Guy Robertson (who also played at the World Cup in 2007) and Danny Duhig. Many people always assumed Jason Webb and Guy would definitely be picked which only really left two spots to fill and Danny Duhig played very well against the Irish in the summer test match series to win his place in the team.
In an exclusive interview with Polocrosse Extreme the UK’s coach, Simon Shearing, said that in picking the team he had picked a number 1, a number 2 and a number 3 for both the men’s and the Ladies and then picked a player who could play in all the position if they were called upon to do so. He said that Jason Burbidge was included in the squad because he is the best men’s number 2 in the UK and there is no one that people fear move in that role, which suggests that this time Jason will play a midfield role rather than the number 1 role he played in the last two World Cups. .
In Jason Webb and Guy the UK have a very strong number 1 and a very strong number 3, regardless of which way round they play them and then Danny Duhig is a excellent all rounder and has played a lot in all three positions throughout his career. Danny Duhig also received a call up to the UKPA Executive committee this week as he was elected as the Midland Region’s Executive officer and becomes the youngest serving member of the executive at 25, younger than the UKPA CEO Iain Heaton who is 27. When asked about this Iain took this loss of status well, saying he was delighted to see new blood coming onto the Executive. He did, however, quickly add, “I do still hold the record for being the youngest ever executive member as I joined at 22 back in 2005, though I’m not sure that is really something I should boast about!”
In the UK Ladies section, Charlotte Pykett is expected to lead the charge with Debbie Harris at number 2 and Sarah Simkin at number 3, though Debbie is also very solid at number 3. Lizzie Shearing has played a lot of number 1 and number 3 in her career and she will probably be the UK’s impact player. Simon did say that he had consulted with both his captains at length before deciding on the team, particularly on the decision to pick Lizzie, as she is his wife and so he was aware of how that could look.
The two UK reserves are James Davidson for the Men and Annie Waterer for the Ladies. Simon stressed how hard it had been to pick this team as there was a lot of talent in the 16 person squad and there were players who he had to think long and hard about leaving out, for example he said picking Debbie Harris over Ruth Jones, who some people would have picked as the UK Ladies number 2, was a very tough choice.
The other players to miss out were Lucy Shell and Annie Mitchell on the Ladies Side and Joel Sics, Jono Keen and Alex Richardson on the Men’s side. All these players are fairly young but Alex and Annie in particular are both young, at 19 and 20 years old and will no doubt get their chances in the future. Joel Sics is also fairly young, and having a broken leg for half the UK playing season this year did not help his cause much. Jono and Lucy have both received a few international caps and are undoubtedly very talented but had the misfortune to be fighting for places against players such as Jason Webb, Guy Robertson, Debbie Harris and Sarah Simkin and ultimately the UK coach erred on the side of experience as he tried to guide his team to glory next year. Simon expressed his confidence in his team and the fact they could win it on home soil, now only time will tell if he is right.