After a surprisingly dry day 2, we had heavy overnight rain. There was the odd puddle on the paths surrounding the lawns, but the lawns themselves had drained well and whilst a fair bit slower were perfectly playable. It was dry until 10.45 after which we had heavy rain on and off for the next 80 minutes followed by a torrential downpour which started flooding some lawns. Play resumed on most of the lawns just after 1.30pm.
I’ve tried to provide a bit more detail on games today so that you can get a feel for the overall standard of play.
The strength of the USA team is their two strong doubles pairs and it was crucial that they achieved a 2-1 win in today’s doubles which would enable them to reduce the deficit from 3-6 to 5-7.
Essick & Watson played Death & Fisher and it was turn 8 before anyone took croquet. Matthew took this opportunity and went to 4-bwith a poor attempt at a diagonal spread that left James a 9 yarder, which James missed. Zack finished a good tp.
Game 2 saw a supershot from Zack, Harry play just N of C4, Matt miss his 13 yarder not leaving a double and James missed his 12 yarder at the supershot. Matt failed h1 giving Harry a break which broke down at h3 with a hoop clang. Zack went to 4-b with a flat reverse NSL. James missed from C1 to C2 and Matt finished his triple to take the match before 11.30am. and make it USA 4, England 6.
Rothman & Morgan played Avery & Burch (which feels the most natural of the English pairings to me). The English pair won +20, +17 to extend the lead to 7-4 – a really key match win.
Balding and Soo played Carter & Patel. Tom failed h3 early on allowing Christian to reach 4-b. Samir completed a tp, finishing with a straight double. The second game was much scrappier with Jeff Soo having a chance of a triple before the English eventually won +10 and take an 8-4 lead into day 4 and the create the possibility of wrapping the Test up tomorrow if they win the doubles 3-0.
In the Aus v NZ match, Australia trailed 3-2 overnight and would have been aiming for at least 4 wins in today’s singles to retake the lead.
Dwayne McCormick played Aaron Westerby. Aaron had the first break but broke down at 3-b allowing Dwayne to reach 4-b, but the leave was poor – to use some jargon, it was a sort of southern cross – this is an attempted NSL (or leave with opponents at hoops 2 and 4) where the ball at hoop 4 is hittable from A-Baulk and can also hit the 8 yarder at opponent, so the striker plays the 4-b ball into C2 with his last shot. Aaron took a 10 yarder at the ball in C2 with his h1 ball, hit but couldn’t get going immediately and Dwayne cornered.
Aaron controlled the lawn for a while before picking up a break which broke down at 3-b again. Dwayne finished a good tp to take the first +10tp.
In game 2, Dwayne played a really good cannon to 1+2 from the E boundary 5th turn to get a break, but missed a 5 yarder before h3. Aaron missed a 14 yarder and Dwayne continued his break to 4-b with an MSL. Aaron missed the defensive shot to C4.
Following the rain delay, Dwayne played some good large croquet strokes and completed a very good triple peel to win the match and level the Test at 3-3.
Edward Wilson played Felix Webby and after early errors from both players, Felix reached 5 & 4-b against 1 & 2 and Edward missed the lift. Felix took his h5 ball to the peg with a solid 4 ball break. Edward took a defensive 18 yard lift, missing. Felix did well to pick up a break, but missed a slightly hampered 5 yarder after penult to allow Ed back in with his h2 ball which he took to 4-b with an NSL. Felix lifted his ball for rover at h2 and shot from A-baulk, missing. Ed failed h1 and Felix hit a 5 yarder at 85% of a ball with his peg ball. Ed missed the leave and Felix took the first +17.
Game 2 saw misses 2nd, 3rd and 4th turn to leave Felix with all 4 balls within a few feet 9 yards N of C4. Felix obtained a cannon and played the promotion to h1 and reached 4-b with an OSL with a ball on the W boundary. Ed lifted the mid-lawn ball took the defensive 20 yarder from C1 missing to C2. Felix was unable to get going and made a leave. Ed missed a 20 yarder and Felix picked up a standard tp, peeling 4-b after h3, but was hampered on his escape ball and shot at his h4 pioneer, missing.
Ed hit an 8 yarder, picked up a break well before getting partially wired on his h3 pioneer and missing. Felix took his penultimate ball to the peg and cross-wired Ed at h4, laying up on the W boundary just S of C2 5 yards apart. Astonishingly, Ed shot at the backward ball and Felix completed his 4-ball break to win +24 and give NZ the lead once again at 4-3.
Malcolm Fletcher played Paddy Chapman. Paddy reached 4-b first with a fairly horizontal spread (playing on lawn 2, the long lift hills badly off-lawn) and Malcolm missed the shot from B-Baulk into C4. Paddy made h1 by a long way and couldn’t get going having hit partner at h2 and finished with his clip on h3. Malcolm hit a 23 yarder, but played a poor first croquet stroke and ended up trying to roll up to h1 from 20 yards N of C1. An excellent roll gave him a 5 foot straight hoop which he ran to peg high and missed his 9 yard return roquet.
Paddy missed from h1 to partner at h2. Malcolm hit a 17 yarder at partner giving him 2 balls at his hoop which was enough to get Malcolm to 4-b with a reverse MSL. Paddy lifted his backward ball and made a target from B-Baulk with the ball in h2, hitting the right hand wire of h2 and going off the W boundary 5 yards N of Malcolm.
Malcolm picked up a break, but played a poor approach to h3, failing to get peelee into position and ended up reaching the peg with one peel and a reverse horizontal spread, where the ball at the peg (for h3) had a hampered 12 yarder which Paddy hit. Paddy picked up a delayed tp well, but failed h5 to give Malcolm an easy finish to take game 1 +12.
Game 2 started with a supershot from Malcolm which quickly degenerated into chaos. Paddy was unable to hit multiple shots and Malcolm had multiple chances to go round, ending up on h4. Paddy missed again and Mal took his h4 ball to 4-b with a reverse NSL.
Paddy lifted the ball at h2 and shot from C1, missing to just S of C2. Mal made h1, but was hampered and narrowly missed partner near C3. Paddy played into C1 and Mal played his 4-b ball and made a leave, without moving Paddy’s balls in C1 + C2. Paddy moved his ball in C2 to C4 and Mal tried to roll off h2 from C1, returned to partner leaving Paddy a fairly free 20 yarder with two balls at h1 which he hit, but broke down at h3. Malcolm hit a 3 yarder with his 4-b ball and made a leave. Paddy hit a 19 yarder with his h1 ball, but failed h3, giving Mal a standard tp. However, Mal failed the 4-b peel after h3 and settled for a ball to the peg with a reverse OSL.
Paddy missed the short lift and Mal failed 4-b. Paddy hit half a ball at 4 yards and went to the peg, pegging out Mal to leave 3 + peg v 4-b. Paddy left his peg ball in C4 and his h3 ball 21 yards N of C1. Mal took croquet from the h3 ball and rolled up to get an 8 foot fairly straight 4-b which he ran to the boundary leaving him a 5 yard “rush” to N of penult. Mal rushed this to h2 and approached pen to 5 foot straight. He ran penult hard, but it hit the peg leaving him a short shot and an approach to rover from just NW of the peg. He approached to 5 foot fairly straight and ran it to take the match +12 and level the scores at 4-4. A good turn under pressure.
Ian Dumergue played Edmund Fordyce. Edmund reached rover and peg fairly quickly, but Ian responded with a break to 4-b and after Edmund missed the lift had a good chance to finish before failing h3 giving Edmund an easy finish to win the first +15.
Ian went to 4-b first in the second, but broke down after making h1 and Edmund hit and went to 4-b. Ian hit the lift and went to peg with 1 peel. Edmund hit a 30 yard double from B-Baulk and went to the peg with one peel. Ian missed a 13 yarder and Edmund finished to win +4 and retake the lead for NZ 5-4
Stephen Forster played Greg Bryant. In game 1, Stephen had a duffer, Greg shot into corner 4. Stephen missed. Greg hit into corner 4, went to 4b with a spread. Stephen missed the lift. Greg drifted past a 3 yarder at hoop 5. Stephen went to 4b. Greg missed the lift. Stephen failed hoop 2. Greg hit, rushed Stephen through 2 and went to the peg with a spread. Stephen missed and Greg finished +15.
Game 2, Stephen east boundary, Greg corner 2. Stephen missed. Greg missed down to corner 4. Stephen went to 4b. Greg missed down the line. Stephen finished to win +26tp.
Game 3, Greg east boundary, Stephen duffer. Greg shot down missing into corner 4. Stephen hit the duffer, took off to northernmost ball of Greg’s, went out taking off to the ball in corner 4. Greg went to 4b with an NSL. Stephen lifted the ball on hoop 4, nicked the lift down the line. Went to 4b with a spread. Greg hit the lift down the line. Greg started a standard TP, peeled 4b after 3, just through the hoop. Failed to get pioneer for 5 anywhere near it. (4y E, and no rush out of 4). Rushed back up the lawn, rushed peelee back through hoop 3. Ended up making 1b off peelee. Rushed across and put it into the jaws of penult from the non-playing side and then failed 2back from nowhere, offering Stephen a 5y double with his hoop 1 ball. Stephen hit his double and embarked on a standard TP, which was going well until he failed 1b from a foot. Greg took his penult ball to the peg, laid up in corner 1 with Stephen NE of hoop 1 (wired from him) and the other ball about 2 yards short of hoop 3. Stephen shot at partner missing into corner 3. Greg 2balled 2b and 3b, and finished, not using the ball in corner 3 to win +10 and take the first 2 point lead of the Test 6-4.
Robbie Fletcher played Jenny Clarke. Robbie hit and went round 4th turn. Jenny hit and failed h1 5th turn. Robbie missed turn 6. Jenny went to 4-b, Robbie missed, Jenny jawsed the 4-b peel after h3 but still had no peels on her way to the peg. Robbie hit the lift and failed 3-b with 1 peel done and Jenny finished +7.
In game 2, Jenny went round 5th turn. Robbie hit the long lift and finished 8th turn + 17tp.
Jenny hit 3rd turn of the decider, made a leave and went round 5th turn after Robbie missed. Robbie missed the long lift and Jenny went to the peg without attempting any peels and made a too diagonal cross pegging. Robbie hit the short lift and went round pegging out Jenny leaving his h1 ball 5.5 yards S of C2 and his peg ball 6 yards W of C4. Jenny took off from the peg ball to the h1 ball and went off the lawn. Robbie laid up near C4 with Jenny near C2. Jenny shot, missed and Robbie finished +4 to leave the Test tantalisingly poised at Aus 5, NZ 6.
Tomorrow both Tests play 3 doubles.
I should mention how good the volunteers have been. 6 lawns mown each day, 72 hoops set (no wedges so far despite the large number of hoop clangs), fabulous catering, livestreaming, commentary, Gareth’s in-game updates and a congenial manager. It’s been a great start.