Questionnaire WORLD NO 1 CROQUET PLAYER

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The Independent Online
As a world No 1 from Britain, you're something of a rarity. What's your secret?

I started off with a natural talent to hit the ball straight.

Being the best in the world is something our footballers, cricketers and tennis players have failed at. Are you proud of your achievement?

Croquet players aren't really in the same league. I might be the best in the world, but there are only 20,000 of us, and there are billions playing the other sports.

Are you confident about defending your Open title at Hurlingham this week?

I have a 50-50 chance, and perhaps other leading players have a 20 per cent chance, so that makes me the strong favourite.

What's your day job?

I'm half-way to qualifying as an accountant.

So croquet won't make you rich?

I'm the best in the world but just about break even. A bit of prize money and sponsorship just about cover costs. For example, I went to a tournament in California for a week in May. I didn't win, but made about pounds 300 overall.

Do men and women receive equal pay?

Croquet is equal not only in pay, but men and women take part in the same competitions against each other.

How does the game you play differ from the game people play in their gardens?

Most people get their set out in summer and the main aim is to hit the ball into the bushes. What we play, Association Croquet, is more like billiards.

Where in the world is the sport most popular?

America and Australia, but the country with the most players, per capita, is New Zealand.

Where is your favourite place to play?

I used to be pro at a resort in the US, in North Carolina. To one side of the lawn was an open-air pavilion and to the other were the mountains. That's about the best it can get.

Why did you choose to play croquet?

At 16, I was too slow to excel at other sports, but I was reasonable at snooker, and when a friend invited me to try croquet, I went.

Is there a big following for your sport?

There's not what you'd call a Barmy Army, no. In fact there aren't many spectators who aren't players.

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