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Forty players in eight blocks
to begin First Stage Draw of World Championship in Bunbury

by Bob Alman
Posted November 7 1997
For complete daily scores - World Croquet Federation Website
For player profiles and results - Western Australia Croquet Association
See also on our Front Page - The Bunbury Journal of Peter Payne

Following the initial block play, the eight-day tournament proceeds to a best-of-three knockout for 32 players - except for the final eight, who will play best-of-five matches. CROQUET WORLD will provide frequent coverage of the action in Bunbury from correspondents Hartley Slater, Tony Hall, and Peter Payne.

A glance at each of the eight five-person blocks in the 1997 World Croquet Federation World Championship reveals that it is, indeed, a true world championship. These players are the best their countries can offer to the sport, and the top four seeds in each of the blocks have earned their places near the top of the world rankings. Seven of the top ten players in the world are in Bunbury. Each of the "big five" croquet countries has managed to send most of their highest ranked players: From England, their 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th-ranked; from New Zealand, their 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th; from Australia, their lst, 3rd, and 4th; from the United States, their 3rd, 4th and 6th; and from South Africa, their 1st and 2nd.

Only England and the United States have failed to send their top-ranked player.

Reigning World Champion Chris Clarke of England has withdrawn from the tournament in protest of financial and organizational policies of the World Croquet Federation, sparking a worldwide debate, the main result of which has been a "backlash" of strong statements of support for the Federation and for the Australian hosts from leading players and representatives of croquet associations.

Although the two most highly ranked U.S. players - John Taves and Wayne Rodoni - were not able to participate this year, concensus has it that the United States has assembled a very strong contingent based on current form: Jerry Stark, Jacques Fournier, Don Fournier, Jr., and Mik Mehas. Mehas narrowly defeated Stark in the USCA International Rules National Championships in September; and 16-year-old Jacques Fournier performed superbly in the recent "Calzona" matches between Arizona and California, winning all his singles games in a strong field. His broth, Don Fournier, Jr., made a strong impression in the Solomon Trophy matches in the spring and has continued to play well.

Bob Jackson, ranked #4 in the world, is New Zealand's strongest threat, backup up by Steve Jones, Shane Davis, and other strong Kiwi's. Former world champion Robert Fulford of England, current #3 in the world, is popularly considered the strongest contender in the field of 40.

Though his recent play has not been up to the standard of former years, Reg Bamford is South Africa's best hope for the title.

Few would expect the Australian players to perform up to the standard of their British and New Zealand rivals this year, but the host country has the distinction of sending the only women in the championship - Helene Thurston and Shirley Carr.

Weaker and emerging croquet-playing countries have been invited to send their best players, although in some cases their best might be far below the standard of the top seeds. Most of these players are expected to be eliminated in the first stage of block play - however, they can continue to play in the Plate event, which will eventually accommodate all but the top eight players to emerge from the blocks and the subsequent knock-out round of best-of-three matches.

Blocks for the First Stage Draw

Jerry Stark (USA)
Alan McInerney (Ireland)
Peter Payne (Switzerland)
David Openshaw (England)
Bob Jackson (New Zealand)
Eduardo Lualdi (Italy)
Richard Bajker (New Zealand)
Andrew Hope (Scotland)
David Maugham (England)
Aggy Read (Australia)
Wynard Louw (South Africa)
Shirley Carr (Australia)
Stephen Mulliner (England)
Philip Archer (Guernsey)
Ian Bond (Scotland)
Paul Skinley (New Zealand)
Chris Williams (Wales)
Phil Cordingly (England)
Helene Thurston (Australia)
Fernando de Ascorena (Spain)
Ashley Faulkner (Australia)
Shaun Carter (Wales)
Ian Dumergue (New Zealand)
Walid Wahban (Egypt)
Reg Bamford (South Africa)
Steve Jones (New Zealand)
Rohan McInerney (Ireland)
Greg Bury (Australia)
Jacques Fournier (USA)
Tom Weston (Jersey)
Colin Pickering (Australia)
Don Fournier, Jr. (USA)
Jonathan Lamb (Belgium)
Jane McIntyre (New Zealand)
Robert Fulford (England)
Lester Sullivan (South Africa)
Masaaki Yamada (Japan)
Shane Davis (New Zealand)
Mik Mehas (USA)
Bruce Fleming (Australia)

[CRQOUET WORLD Online Magazine will continue with frequent coverage of the World Championship in Bunbury to its conclusion on November 16.]

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