Club

Croquet

Wrest Park

Longman Cup 2024

Given that our last appearance in this competition was in 2019 it’s worth restating the format and conditions, some of which are new this year. The Longman is a national AC club competition played to handicap rules. Teams of four, aggregate handicap ≥24 and individual handicaps ≥3½. The match consists of one doubles (any pairing) and two singles in the morning and four singles (in handicap order) in the afternoon, arranged so that no-one plays the same person twice. Time limits are 3¼ hours.

Years ago the format was three doubles and two singles; the competition was intended for higher handicapped players who would learn tactics by playing doubles with a more experienced partner. This aspect has been given a boost in that, following proposals by the Competitive Play Working Group, for 2024 either doubles pair can elect to play in the normal way (where the partner can be on the lawn to offer advice) or by playing alternate stroke doubles (ASD) where consecutive strokes alternate between the two players. ASD is now being trialled as an option in all AC doubles events.

The relevant clauses from the Laws (omitting what happens if the strokes go out of sequence) are:

48.2 ASSISTANCE TO PARTNER The partner may advise and instruct the striker and assist in the playing of a stroke by indicating the direction in which the mallet is to be swung and by placing balls, although this must not be at the cost of maintaining expedition in play (see Law 56.3). When a stroke is played, however, the partner must stand well clear of the striker and of any spot which might assist the striker in gauging the strength or direction of the stroke.

56.3 DOUBLES PLAY In all forms of doubles, time must not be wasted in prolonged discussion or instruction. In alternate stroke doubles, the partner should help speed up play by retrieving and placing balls and, so far as possible, being ready to play the next stroke.

v Letchworth (home)     26 April     won 6-1

Peter Rothwell (8) & Ross Bagni (12) (alternate stroke doubles) beat Stuart Haggett (10) & David Clancy (14) (straight doubles) +5(t)

David Woolley (10) beat Colin Davis (5) +20

Tim Nurse (9) lost to Rober Skeen (4.5) -2(t)

Peter Rothwell beat Robert Skeen +21

Tim Nurse beat Colin Davis +1

David Woolley beat Stuart Haggett +24

Ross Bagni beat David Clancy +11

report by Tim Brewer

We were able to field a team made up of two newish players, a primarily GC player and an old hand. The day was dry, and the odd glimpses of sun raised the temperature to a more comfortable level than had been the case in previous days. The lawns were freshly mowed and we were all set for a good match.

Peter and Ross opted to play alternate stroke doubles whilst their opponents chose to play standard doubles. The pairing of Ross and Peter seemed to be a perfect combination of Ross’s GC ability to hit in accurately and run long hoops coupled with Peter’s greater experience of AC tactics and croquet shots. However an unfortunate consequence of choosing to play alternate shots often seemed to result in Peter needing to run a long hoop, and Ross needing to play some subtle little croquet shots! Progress was therefore less rapid than the team had hoped, with no big breaks, but they managed to get a lead and stay ahead to win by +5 on time.

David Woolley was playing Colin Davis in the morning and employed the tactic of keeping Colin’s balls well apart. The end game found David on peg and rover. David hit in following an error by Colin and rolled up to rover only to fall short, but used his last bisque to reset the approach, run the hoop and peg out. Tim Nurse was up against Robert Skeen and used his bisques to keep pace with Robert but wasn’t quite able to clinch the game, losing -2 on time. 2-1 up at lunch.

In the afternoon, Peter used his bisques to set up and play a break to rover, but the leave went awry. After exchanging a few turns and making a couple of hoops with the back ball a better leave was achieved, and a miss by Robert enabled the manufacture of a boundary cannon south of hoop 4 to bring all balls back into break-building positions. Peter then took the second ball around to peg and won shortly afterwards. Tim played Colin, where the end game demonstrated the perils of pegging out only one ball. Tim had been well in front during the game using his bisques to good effect, but Colin caught up and overtook Tim to reach peg and peg. He missed the peg out on his partner ball but chose to peg out his striker’s ball.

Time was pressing. Tim got one ball to peg and then had an opportunity to peg out, but he missed. Colin had several attempts at pegging out his single ball but missed each time. With one minute to spare, Tim successfully pegged out. It was a reminder of the perils of pegging out the striker’s ball if you miss the pegout, and a lesson in not going for a long range pegout when your opponent is joined up.

David’s game against Stuart went smoothly with David playing consistently apart from one six-inch hoop attempt where he tried a controlled hoop run and didn’t hit it hard enough! Ross was in the unusual position of playing against two bisques, but his GC skills came to the fore. He got an early break, and his opponent wasn’t able to catch up.

A successful day, winning 6-1. In the next round we will meet either Pinchbeck or Shrewsbury.

© Wrest Park Croquet Club