While there are not too many surprises in the Great Britain teams announced yesterday for next month's Commonwealth Games in Manchester, it is interesting that Tricia Herberle, the women's Australian coach, has opted for youth while the men's coach Malcolm Wood has gone for experience.
The men's squad features eight of the players that took the bronze medal at the last Commonwealth Games. With World Cup and Sydney Olympians Ben Sharpe, Andy Humphrey, Tom Bertram and Guy Fordham not available for various reasons, Wood had a wonderful opportunity to include the highly promising and exciting youngsters Martin Jones and Richard Mantell in his line up.
Instead, he has been faithful to his established players even to the extent of recalling Southgate's highly experienced Duncan Woods, 29, who won the first of his 86 caps nine years ago. There is also a recall for Mark Pearn, who was relegated to the England B team for last weekend's Quadrangular Tournament in Manchester.
The final two places in the women's selection would appear to have gone to two 20- year-olds, Ipswich's Jo Ellis and Canterbury's Frances Houslop, at the expense of school teacher Tina Cullen, 32, with over 200 international appearances, and Fiona Greenham, who collected her 100th cap last Saturday against Ireland in Manchester.
"Our form coming into the Commonwealths has been encouraging, though we remain untested against quality teams like New Zealand and Australia," Herberle said of her charges, whose recent record shows just three defeats in their last 23 games.
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