Yesterday was the second day of practice and the NZ team took the opportunity to drive an hour outside Melbourne to the Belmont club in Geelong who kindly hosted a Representative match against a “Victoria” team. We started in bright sunshine which changed to light and then heavy rain, so the players got to experience most forms of the weather that may play a key part of the upcoming contest. Two rounds of doubles were followed by a round of singles and NZ emerged 11-1 victors. Full scores should appear on croquetscores.com over the next 24 hours.
Many thanks to Stephen Forster and the Belmont for their generous hospitality and to the “Victorian” team for giving up their time. These matches are really popular as a wonderful opportunity for local players to compete against a full international team and provide excellent team warm-ups for the visiting country and the chance to move away from the main venue and see a bit of the country.
We’re now back at Cairnlea where the Aussies, Yanks and Kiwis are 50 minutes into their final practice session which will finish around noon to allow the courts to be set for tomorrow. Samir Patel and Christian Carter have just arrived and are heading outside on an overcast, but mild morning. We’re expecting cool weather with some rain over the first Test and then more pleasant condition for the start of the Second round.
This year we genuinely have 24 world class players and I’m really excited by the prospect of some close Tests. Day 1 will be all doubles. One of the great aspects of this event is every player will get to play all 18 of their opponents at doubles. Day 1 is usually full of errors as initial nervousness is gradually overcome. I’ll be watching to see if any doubles pairs can start strongly and dominate their matches, maybe with a couple of triple peels and I’ll be watching the 7 debutants to see how well they can settle on what can be the most pressure packed stage they’ll have played on.
The plan is that all teams will play singles on day 5, so to win early, they’ll need to be 11-4 ahead before the final day. I think there’s a real chance that every single Test may go into day 5. This is the benefit of playing at a 12 lawn club.
So, play starts at 9am tomorrow. I would expect that details of live streaming will appear on the MacRobertson Facebook webpage. Let’s hope for the full mixture of brilliance, errors, tension and good sportsmanship that this event can generate.