Hockey: England face Sydney showdown

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It may not have all the hype or indeed draw the same-sized crowds but the BDO Women's Champions Trophy starting today in Olympic Park, just a short distance from the scene of last weekend's epic Rugby World Cup final, will be something special for the six élite teams assembled.

England's opening fixture this afternoon against Australia is certain to conjure up memories of last week's final, and with both sides having won 19 of the 48 games between the two countries, the stage is set for a showdown.

After a disappointing fourth-place finish in September's European Cup, England will have much to prove and the coach, Tricia Heberle, has made two changes to her European squad, dropping the Leicester defender Anne Panter and Havant's young striker Alex Danson in favour of the Sydney Olympian Denise Marston-Smith and the promising 18-year-old, Crista Cullen.

Marston-Smith is making her return following the knee injury which has sidelined her since last December's World Cup in Perth. England have also been forced to made a further change because of an injury to Helen Grant, the experienced Purdy Miller stepping in.

Two of the game's biggest names, the Dutch striker Moreira de Melko and Argentina's Cecelia Rognoni, are also absent because of injuries. Rognoni is one of three significant changes from last year's World Cup gold medalists. Vanina Oneta (pregnant) and the World Cup captain, Karina Masotta (retired), are also missing.

The Dutch Hockey Board announced here yesterday morning that Terry Walsh, the former Australian striker and more recently the coach to the men's national side and also to Malaysia, has been appointed to coach the Netherlands' men to the Athens Olympics following the resignation of the former coach Joost Bellaart.