Table Tennis: England recall for durable Douglas

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The Independent Online
DESMOND DOUGLAS is to return to the limelight at the age of 38 and after almost four years away from international tournaments when he plays at next month's European Championships in his home city of Birmingham.

Douglas, the most well- known and successful English player since the Fifties, was named by the England manager, Donald Parker, as one of six home players to be given direct entry into the men's singles at the National Indoor Arena. He thus becomes the oldest player ever to be nominated for an England squad, though he is not expected to play in the team event

Douglas let it be known last month that he would like to make a comeback, but Parker was unsure whether or not the former European Top 12 champion should be included or a place be given instead to a young aspirant. He therefore waited until last week's Commonwealth Championships before deciding.

This helped Andrew Eden, a 20-year-old Lancastrian, to secure a place after winning twice in the final as England gained the team gold. However, Chris Oldfield missed out, and so did Jonathan Taylor, who lost to Douglas in the Welsh Open final on Sunday. The other four nominated are as expected: Chen Xinghua, Carl Prean, Matthew Syed and Alan Cooke.

On playing standards alone Douglas was still an obvious choice. He is unbeaten in the British league this season and has been ranked as high as No 2 in England. Furthermore, the promotional boost to the European Championships of Douglas's presence in Birmingham should be considerable.

ENGLAND SQUADS (for European Championships): Men: Chen Xinhua (Yorks), C Prean (IoW), A Cooke (Derby), M Syed (Berks), A Eden (Essex), D Douglas (Warwicks). Women: L Lomas (Beds), A Holt (Lancs), A Gordon (Berks), K Goodall (Yorks), N Deaton (Derby), S Marling (Yorks).