Australia v. New Zealand
Great Britain v. United States
Australia v. Great Britain
New Zealand v. United States
Australia v. United States
Great Britain v. New Zealand
2003 MacRobertson Shield Preview
For the first time in its 78-year history, the MacRobertson Shield—croquet’s most prestigious team event—is coming to America. A preview of the 2003 Series:
For those unfamiliar with the MacRobertson Shield, or with tournament croquet in general, it may come as a surprise to learn that there are croquet players willing to spend three weeks or more on a trip halfway round the world just to attend a croquet competition. A purely amateur competition at that, with no chance of prize money and precious little glory. And that these players have practiced long and hard to earn the chance at being selected to their national croquet team, and most are travelling largely at their own expense.
But the intangible rewards of competition are the same in any sport, and the MacRobertson Shield offers these players the chance to represent their country while testing themselves against the best in the world. The “MacRob” is perhaps the most exclusive event in the world of croquet, and it is the highest ambition of many croquet players to be selected to play in this event.
All four teams contain a mix of MacRob veterans and MacRob first-timers, of young players and players not so young. Not always in the expected combinations—there are some young veteran players as well as some grizzled MacRob debutants in this year’s team line-ups.
One of the founding MacRob countries, Australia is looking to end a record streak of MacRob frustration. Despite coming tantalizingly close at times, the Aussies have not won the Shield since 1935.
With two players ranked in the World top ten, and three players returning from the 2000 team, the Aussies have good prospects for success. They also have the most youthful team, with two players still short of their twenty-fifth birthdays.
The four-time defending champions are favorites to retain the Shield. But, as seen in 2000, the Brits are not invincible and will need good performances at all positions to win a record fifth straight world title.
Led by World #1 Robert Fulford, and with three players ranked in the World top ten, four players returning from the victorious 2000 squad, and five players with previous MacRob experience, the Brits are still the team to beat.
Having come within a single game of winning the 2000 MacRob, Team New Zealand know that they are very capable of winning the Shield for the first time since 1986.
The Kiwis have the most experienced MacRob player ever in John Prince. Returning three players from their 2000 MacRob team and four players with prior MacRob experience, the Kiwis could make another strong run at the title. Much will depend on the performance of their two MacRob first-timers.
Team USA achieved a milestone in the 2000 Series, winning its first-ever MacRob test match and taking third place overall. The Americans know they can perform well, and expect to improve on their 2000 results.
This should be America’s strongest team yet. Led by Jerry Stark, veteran of all three previous American MacRob teams, the Americans are gaining in experience and depth of strength.