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United States
8 13 Great Britain

2012 Solomon Trophy

Day 4 report


James Death going for the sextuple peel | Photo by Donna Finley

Team USA plays out the match in style

The outcome of the test match was already decided, but the home team took the day’s matches just as seriously as they had all week. It was not merely about making the score look respectable, something the team did accomplish by winning the round 2 singles 4-2. More importantly it was about continuing to work toward the team’s ultimate goal of winning the MacRobertson Shield. To that end, the team was not going to squander this chance to play yet another day of matches against a top team on lawns painstakingly prepared to test-match standard.

The team knew that at least some of the GB players would indulge in showy but risky plays, now that the match was technically dead. And three of the GB players did so. Playing against US national champion Rich Lamm, Keith Aiton laid up for the so-called “ladies’” version of the sextuple peel, despite the fact that Lamm had won the first game of the match with a triple peel. When you set out to take Vienna, take Vienna. Aiton failed to follow the croquet equivalent of this advice, his break failing almost immediately, a comically inept ending to his attempted flourish. He was duly punished for this hubris as Lamm won the match 2-0.

Aiton was outone in this regard by Marcus Evans. In many ways the most solid performer of the GB team this week, he puzzled onlookers for a few minutes with his unusual break management at the start of his match against Doug Grimsley, the reason for which became apparent when he deliberately ended his turn by playing into the jaws of 4. He had, that is, set up for a nontuple peel. Given that only one such turn has ever been completed in competitive play, this was a strong statement. But his attempt was no more successful than Aiton’s. Grimsley quickly won the game with a triple peel. The second game was closer, but again Grimsley won to add to the USA scoreline.

That James Death would also try something big was a given — he is an extraordinarily talented player and a natural showman. He won his first game against USA #1 Ben Rothman with a sextuple peel. Having thus accomplished the only sextuple of the test match, he set his sights on the octuple, a show-off play with no tactical justification. He had one reasonable-looking attempt at it over the course of the final two games of the match. His attempts cost him the second game, and gave Rothman good chances in the deciding game. But Death won that game with some fast and loose two-ball breaks, having triple-peeled Rothman’s forward ball out of the game.

The rest of the GB players treated their matches just as seriously as the Americans. Stephen Mulliner started his match against Jim Bast with a fifth-turn triple peel to win game 1. He made a few errors in game 2, but parlayed a triple peel on opponent into a 2-0 match win. Jamie Burch had a good start against Team USA captain Danny Huneycutt, but Huneycutt quickly took control and won with two triple peels. Chris Patmore finished off the day with another win for USA, beating David Maugham in a high-quality three-game match.

The final outcome: Great Britain wins the test match, 13-8.

Reported by Jeff Soo

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