The UK named their 2011 squads at the National Championship on Sunday and there were a couple of big shocks in the men’s open side, as the UK prepare to try and win their first World Cup on their home turf next year. There was no place in the 8 man World Cup squad for either of James Robertson or Martin Brookes but there was a first call up for Alex Richardson, Joel Sics received a call up, despite not playing since early July due to a broken leg and Jason Burbidge, the only man to play in both the last two World Cups for the UK was recalled.

Perhaps the exclusion of Martin Brookes was less surprising, he hasn’t played as well this year at he has done previously and didn’t feature massively against the Irish earlier this year. He himself might have admitted he was unlikely to make the final 4 men for next July and maybe the selectors felt it was a good opportunity to bring in some fresh blood. However, not picking James Robertson was an altogether stranger decision. He played fairly well against the Irish, many people thought he did better against them than his brother Guy, and not to a least leave him as an option for the final 4 seems a weird choice indeed, especially when calling up far less experienced players in Alex and Joel.

Alex Richardson is a brilliant young talent but at 19 years old most people might consider giving him his first taste of open squad polocrosse at the World Cup itself a bit of a risk. Joel has been a very good player for years and was brought into the squads to play Ireland earlier this year after Jason Webb was injured. However, he himself then broke his leg so he did not play the test matches and has not played since.

Probably the most surprising decision is the recall of Jason Burbidge, he has not played top level polocrosse as regularly as the others since the 2007 World Cup and did not play at the Nationals this year as Arden didn’t have an A grade side. He is still a brilliant player on his day and has played a lot in the number 2 shirt lately so maybe that is where the selectors think they can use his experience. However, at first glance it would seem unlikely that he would be put in the final 4 players for next July, though if he could force his way in he would become the first man to play in three World Cups for the UK.

Surprising though these decisions seemed maybe it could turn out to be the answer to the UK problems, after all their men’s side has lost to both South Africa and Ireland in the last two years and they failed to win a match at the Quadrangular in 2008. Something clearly wasn’t quite working and maybe this bold move of bringing in new (and some rather old) blood will pay dividends. If it backfires though, UKPA selectors’ heads could roll.

The ladies side was an altogether much simpler selection, most of the names were those that featured against Ireland, though Kerry Bean and Lizzie Shearing both received recalls, while the youngsters Sarah Peaker and Annie Mitchell were left out. This seems strange when contrasted with the decisions to bring in young players to the men’s team to gain experience but obviously the selectors felt that in the UK ladies team (which has done far better in recent years) they have enough established players to pick from for their final 4. A number of people, however, thought Annie Mitchell had done enough to deserve a place in the squad, as she played well against the Irish and also looked on great form for Celyn in the A grade at the Nationals last weekend. She is only 20, however, so she will get plenty more chances to be called up to the UK side.

Alongside picking the World Cup squad the UKPA also named the Under 16 and Under 21 squads for 2011. There were recalls for all the current players who are still legible on the grounds of age and then a number of new faces in each of the teams. For the Under 21’s Livvy Foley and Emily Gilfillan were called up, aged just 17 and 16 respectively and in the Under 16’s there were a lot of new faces, including Max Pedley aged at only 12 (not that age should be any guide of ability, Matt Smith was only 12 when he was called up into the UK junior squad last year and he was one of the best players for them against Ireland and NSW in July).

The World Cup Squad will now train through the winter and a final 8 will be picked around the start of 2011. The UK Under 16’s will head to NSW next year it is believed and the UK Under 21’s to the USA.

Full UK Squads for 2011

Open Ladies

Debbie Harris (Highlanders)
Ruth Jones (Celyn)
Lizzie Shearing (Cotswold)
Kerry Bean (Kent Target)
Charlotte Pykett (Highlanders)
Lucy Shell (Highlanders)
Sarah Simkin (Celyn)
Annie Waterer (Kent Target)

Open Men

Jason Burbidge (Arden)
Jason Webb (Kent Target)
James Davidson (Highlanders)
Daniel Duhig (Cotswold)
Alex Richardson (Kent Target)
Jono Keen (Cotswold)
Joel Sics (Arden)
Guy Robertson (Highlanders)


Natalie Cameron (Arden)
George Harding (Ashfields)
Oli Halcrow (Kent Target)
Katie Newbrook (Vale Impi)
Lydia Rampin (Vale Impi)
Alex Rowley (Pennine)
Matt Smith (Vale Impi)
Max Pedley (Pennine)
Pip Rowland (Arden)
Alice Zawoda (Arden)
Gabi Jones (Welsh Dragons)
Lauren Williams (Welsh Dragons)
Ceri Williams (Celyn)

Under 21s

Simon Amor (Celyn)
Will Halcrow (Kent Target)
Tom Bowden-Eyre (Vale Impi)
John Whitehead (Cotswold)
Dan Kelly (Vale Impi)
Joe Hopkins (Solent)
Annemieke Mitchell (Celyn)
Bryony Cross (Celyn)
Sammy Rowden (Kent Target)
Hazel Wilson (Kent Target)
Livvy Foley (Ashfields)
Emily Gilfillan (Pennine)