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Entries in Chris Clarke (18)

Sunday
Apr232017

Clarke: 2017 MacRobertson Review - Round 1

Today, we are pleased to add Chris Clarke to the team of contributors for coverage of the 2017 MacRobertson Shield being held this month (and into May) in Rancho, Mirage, California. This is in addition to the players journals we have running from Jeff Soo and Paddy Chapman. Please enjoy ...

First Tests Review: England v Australia and New Zealand v USA

Day 1

The first day of any MacRobertson Shield is an exciting and nervous experience. Over the past three decades, I have seen many debutants wilt under the pressure. It therefore comes as a pleasant surprise to be able to report on two excellent debuts on day 1 of these tests. Stuart Lawrence completed two triple peels to take his match partnering Jeff Soo against Hogan and Shilling without the Kiwis even taking croquet. Stuart’s only error was failing to get going once in game two which gave away a long bonus shot.

In the other Test, James Hopgood made no errors taking breaks to 4-b on the fourth and third turns of his two games. This was perhaps an even stronger performance since his pairing with Maugham won their match without the world number one Robert Fletcher taking croquet – Robert only struck his ball twice in the match.

At about 11 o’clock, it looked as if England would take a 2-0 lead when Jamie Burch was on a finishing turn against Dumergue and Forster, when already game up. However, a blast at hoop 2 failed to go through (these hoops react better to soft and mid-pace shots) and Stephen Forster played a good finishing turn to turn Death’s tpo into an otp. The players broke for lunch at 1-1. Meanwhile over in lawn 5, Mulliner had completed the peels of a dpo only to completely miss the peg-out leaving a ball at Greg Fletcher’s hoop and conceding contact. Greg made no error and finished the match next turn to level the test 1-1.

When the deciding game resumed in the Death/Burch v Dumergue/Forster match, Burch went round 5th turn, but Forster hit the lift and Dumergue claimed the match on the 7th turn to give Australia the overnight lead. NZ and USA shared the other two doubles for the USA to lead 2-1. How critical will this turn-around be on day 5?

Day 2

England and Australia shared today's singles 3-3 to give Australia a 5-4 lead. One piece of information that may not be widely known is that Robert Fletcher broke his mallet a week ago and is still getting used to his new mallet. In his second game against Mulliner, both players had 2 breaks and both had 3 peels, but it was the player with the better tactics that won.

The USA/NZ match only finished two of their three doubles, both going to the USA to give them a 4-1 lead. The Huneycutt/Morgan v Hogan/Shilling match was pegged down after 10.5 hours. Amazingly, it was still in the second game!!

Day 3

Australia once again won the doubles 2-1 to take a 7-5 lead into day 4. Another losing tpo featured in England’s defeat. I highlighted during the last World Championships that of the 7 tpos completed, 6 of them lost and that this was a weak tactic. No lessons seem to have been learnt by the English players.
USA/NZ shared the singles 3-3 to make it 7-4 and NZ equalised at game all in the unfinished doubles which was once again pegged down after 12.5 hours.

Day 4

NZ won all three doubles and added the unfinished doubles to make it 4-0 on the day to take an 8-7 lead into the final day.

The Aus/Eng match showed an increase in both the number of errors and the strangeness of tactical choices. Whether this was due to the high temperatures, inexperience, pressure, or a combination of these three factors I do not know. To give one example of a baffling set of decisions, Greg Fletcher had completed all the peels of his triple against James Death in their deciding game, but was 1 foot in front of rover with peelee just through the hoop. He had the option to jump over and take a 9 yard return roquet, but decided to run the hoop firmly and flat. I was standing next to Ian Dumergue, the Australian Captain and commented on what a mature sensible decision Greg had made. I assumed he would croquet partner to the peg, possibly getting a long peg out and would then rush James’ balls off the boundaries to take a 25-0 lead and force a hit-in. The spectators were amazed when Greg played a hard peg-out from the south boundary where the front ball zoomed off the lawn. Following this, James, instead of going to 4-b and giving Greg one shot to stay in the match (there were 32 +26tp results in the first Tests), went to 1-b and attempted a sextuple. No-one has achieved more than 3 peels of a sextuple so far in the event and whilst it was a surprise that James didn’t even attempt the 3-b peel, it was little surprise that the turn did not finish.

Australia took 3 of the first 5 matches to finish which left them on the brink of victory at 10-7. The final match to finish was between Stephen Forster and James Hopgood. This was a tough position for a debutant to find themselves and he played some good turns. However, Forster’s experience and elegant play won through to give Australia the key 11th match win.

I have been asked in the past what Australia needed to do to win a MacRobertson. My two answers have been “select their best players” and “get a team strong enough that Forster can play lower down the order”. They fulfilled both these criteria – many congratulations to them.

Day 5

England took the doubles 2-1 to make the final score Aus 12, Eng 9. Australia selected their best six players for the first time in my memory. They also had three compatible doubles partnerships that had played together before. They came with a pre-determined game plan – and it was a good plan. Supershot openings, no TPOs, no sextuples. Just solid play. Finally, they executed their game plan well, and were worthy winners.

The other test match was a nail-biter, in true MacRobertson Shield spirit. The last two matches finished within 30 seconds of each other at dusk. USA had started the day 8-7 down, but had moved to 10-9 ahead before kiwi debutants Aiken Hakes and Chris Shilling put the final two matches on the scoreboard to allow New Zealand an 11-10 win.

I mentioned on Day 1 two strong debuts by Hopgood and Lawrence. What is perhaps more difficult to do is to get off to a bad start and find fabulous form by the end of a test. Chris Shilling didn’t take croquet on the first day, and today produced a level of performance combined with maturity that I will remember for a long time. It is also probably an opportune moment to thank Toby Garrison for his willingness to play one test match at short notice. His contribution to the team has been immense.

The American team produced a good standard of play for most of the Test. It was a Test that could easily have gone either way and there was little to choose between the two sides. One statistic that may be of surprise to readers is that NZ only won one of the five days of play.

Looking forward to the second tests, New Zealand lose Toby Garrison and gain Harps Tahurangi. USA gain Matthew Essick, but at this stage, it is unknown who he will replace. Despite Danny Huneycutt’s match win against Hogan today, I feel he was the least on-form of the Americans, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he chose to sit out the second test.

The standard of play in the Aus/Eng Test was much higher than the USA/NZ Test and if all the teams continue to play at that level, it wouldn’t surprise me to see 17-4 or 16-5 results in favour of Australia and England in the second Tests. However, croquet is a sport and anything can happen, however unlikely. Sunday is a rest day and the second Tests start on Monday. All the players will welcome a break from the searing heat. Check back to Croquet Network for more next week.

Tuesday
Mar212017

Morning Coffee: Time to Get Out and Play

It's 81 degrees in Kansas City, so it's time to stop writing about croquet and start playing. Here's your speed version of the Tuesday Morning Coffee ...

CROQUET WEEK GC: To kick of the USCA's Croquet Week and Club Teams festival of croquet, Sandra Knuth Walsh took a 7-5, 7-1 win to snag the USCA Croquet Week Golf Croquet Tournament title. Larry Cranfield took the first flight final with a 7-1, 7-4 win over Karen Heckman.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Mar142017

Morning Coffee: GC Worlds YouTube Binge

Updated on Thursday, April 13, 2017 at 06:37PM by Registered CommenterDylan

The WCF Golf Croquet World Championship videos are piling ups and ready for binge watching on your favorite device. I prefer the XBox One personally on the 55-inch TV, but occasionally, I'll use the iPad as well. I'm sharing as fast as I can on the Croquet Nation video page, but Chris Clarke is definitely outpacing me. To stay up to date on his channel go directly to: Kruncher89. As of Monday evening, he had 18 videos already posted from the event. And on to this week in croquet ...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Feb182016

2016 Most Popular Croquet YouTube Channels

Since posting this ranking for 2015, there have been some changes in the landscape. First off, YouTube is allowing channels to hide their total view count and several channels from last year's list have obscured that count. I'm not sure why, but the remedy for 2016 is to rank the channels by subscribers.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Feb252015

2015 Most Popular Croquet YouTube Channels

One of the quietly growing segments for the sport of croquet on the internet is YouTube. The traffic is still minor compared to the crazy videos that will notch views in the millions, but the overall segment of YouTube channels that Croquet Network tracks has grown from 12 to 18 since the start of 2014. And the total views for that group has gone from 434,000 to 603,000 during the same timeframe.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jan012015

2014 Best of Croquet Network

As we roll in the New Year, let's take a look back at 2014 with the most popular lists for Croquet Network. All four of the lists below, rank the most viewed pages on both the Croquet Network news site and the community/forum site. It is no surprise the 2014 Mallet Poll topped the list for 2014 posts. That poll officially closed on December 31 and I will be going to work on a follow-up post with links and info for all of the top finishers.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Dec022014

Morning Coffee: Fletcher Wins Fourth Australian Open

AUSTRALIAN OPEN: Robert Fletcher claimed his fourth straight Australian Open singles title with a 3-0 win over Kevin Beard (26tp-0, 26tpo-14, 26tpo-13) at the Victorian Croquet Centre, Cairnlea, Victoria. The event was held November 18-23 and Fletcher went 14-0 and is the world number one AC player with a 2787 dynamic grade and a 71-9 record for 2014. Full bracket.

HANEKOM INTERVIEW: CWO has an extended interview with new Women's GC World Champion Judith Hanekom. Excerpt:

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Jun032014

Morning Coffee: Clarke Croquet

When I heard that Chris and Jenny Clarke were launching a croquet instruction website, I was definitely skeptical. Oxford Croquet has it all covered, right? I was pleasantly surprised though as I took my first spin through. Essentially, what I see is more plain-spoken approach that is concise and with adequate amount of graphics. The format is nice as a sort of page by page navigation and I could see that translating easily into a print book (that I would gladly purchase). I am hoping there is a save my place function that I will discover in my next visit.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Sep022013

2014 MacRobertson Shield Line-Ups

Now that the ACWC has concluded the croquet world can turn all attention on the upcoming MacRobertson Shield World Team Championship which will roll out the balls in December in New Zealand. Line-ups for the Big 4 have been announced and presented below is a selective breakdown of stats pulled from croquetrecords.com on August 29.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jan182012

Morning Coffee: Fear of Golf Croquet

Visit the storeLast week I mentioned that Johnny Mitchell would take over as USCA President for Eugene Young. I failed to mention that the actual transition will take place in March. Young will have served for three years. Now, this week's headlines ...

FEAR OF GC: Croquet World Online has a forum this week on the battle between golf croquet and association croquet. Or is it a battle at all--

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Aug232011

Morning Coffee: World GC Debate Continues

Click image to visit store

Nearly one month later and the debate surrounding the World Golf Croquet Championship reached a crescendo this past week. To start, Mark McInerney hit the Irish Times website with a compelling Q&A driven by a truly slanted interviewer. McInerney seemed to handle it well, but I find it interesting that the piece made their society section and not the sports section. I find it interesting that society page reporter would feel comfortable with such a condescending attitude toward croquet--
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/magazine/2011/0820/1224302538156.html

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Feb222011

Breaking News: Earthquake Hits Christchurch

After taking a day off to enjoy President's Day here in the U.S., it was devasting to wake up to news of a major earthquake in New Zealand that has reportedly killed 65 people. Obviously, any tragedy is upsetting, but I think many croquet players feel a connection to the area.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Dec302010

December / January Issue Now Available in Print

NEW PRINT ISSUE IS NOW AVAILABLE!!!

December-January 2011 #9

Croquet Network Issue 9: December-January 2011 #9

Croquet Network December/January 2011 Issue #9 featuring follow-up coverage of the 2010 MacRobertson Shield. Chris Clarke offers an overview of the event and Reg Bamford is the player profile for the issue.

Find out more on MagCloud


The magazine is currently available for free viewing on the iPad via the MagCloud app. The free digital desktop version will be released next week.

Tuesday
Sep072010

Morning Coffee: WCF Hall of Fame, MacRob Openings and U.S. Summary

Rhys Thomas announced the members of the 2010 WCF Hall of Fame class on the Nottingham list. The Class of 2010 (in order of election):

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
May042010

Morning Coffee: Davidson GC Champs, Egyptian Open, Jim Carey and WCF Action

The Davidson team of Mac Gilliland and Mark Millard went 9-0 at the Collegiate National Championships to claim the Collegiate GC National Championship at the Merion Cricket Club in Haverford, Pennsylvania. The duo faced off against Navy in the final match.

“The competition was intense, but we made it through,” Gilliland said. “All of our matches were close, including five wins by only one wicket. Mark’s go-for-it attitude and my experience at the tournament made a deadly combination.”

The WCF has been in the news quite a bit this past week, which makes it particularly frustrasting that they've broken their news module. Once ahead of the curve for all of the association sites, their RSS feed is now broken on the site and there are two stories that I would normally direct link. Oh well, let's move on ...

The resignation of Brian Storey as WCF Secretary General and subsequent appointment of Chris Clarke as his replacement brewed up a firestorm of controversy on the Nottingham e-mail list. You can see the offical release on the WCF website. To get a rundown on the overall story, check out the letter on the "Secretary-General" post on the Croquet World forum.

The 2010 Egyptian Open Golf Croquet tournament is now open for registration. The event takes place at the Gezirah Club and Federation Lawns, Cairo from October 1-6. Confirmed entries include:

Ahmed Nars
Reg Bamford
David Openshaw
Dick Strover
Leo McBride
Sherif Abdelwahab
Len Canavan
Wayne Davies
Ed Cunnningham
Evan Newell

Interested players should contact the Egyptian Croquet Federation Vice-President, Amir Ramsis.

Despite the spelling, Jim Carey tweeted about croquet over the weekend:

"Said 'Yes' 2 crochet 2day! I knocked my cousin's teeth out with 1 of those mallets 38yrs ago. He stood right behind me!"