Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Team England go for Youth & Experience

TEAM ENGLAND will rely on a blend of youth and experience when they go into their opening contest against the Czech Republic at the European Team Badminton Championship at the Echo Arena in Liverpool on Tuesday night.

Manager Ian Wright has picked European and three-times English National champions Anthony Clark (Notts) and Donna Kellogg (Derbyshire) in the mixed doubles. The pair have 161 caps between them and will be the driving force in the line-up.

The singles berths go to three-times National champion Elizabeth Cann (Jersey) and Rajiv Ouseph (Middlesex), who retained his National title at Manchester Velodrome eight days ago.

The men’s doubles responsibilities in the Center Parcs-supported Team England rest with Robert Blair (Leics) and teenager Chris Adcock (Notts) while the women’s doubles duties go to Leeds pair Gabby White and Jenny Wallwork (both Yorks). Both these pairs were runners-up at the Nationals.

Wright said: “We want to rotate Anthony, Rob and Nathan (Robertson) in the group stages so Chris Adcock is likely to play all three group matches.

“We are in confident mood but not over-confident. We know the Czechs have strong singles players and we know the Scottish squad have improved a lot because several of them do their GB training at Milton Keynes.

“We will not be taking any of the matches lightly,” added Wright, whose squad face Wales on Wednesday night and Scotland on Thursday night.

Team England, runners-up last year in Herning, are second seeds behind 12-time winners and holders Denmark. If they top Group Eight they will go into the knockout quarter-finals on Friday night. The semi-finals are on Saturday and the finals on Sunday.

Thirty-two nations will be competing in the first European Championships to be staged in England since Preston in 1984 – and all have arrived safely in Liverpool despite the weekend’s troubles with the weather.

The teams are divided into eight groups of four with the nation topping each group making up the eight quarter-finalists.

Men’s singles: Rajiv Ouseph (Middlesex, age 22, caps 22)
Women’s singles: Elizabeth Cann (Jersey, age 29, caps 22)
Men’s doubles:
Chris Adcock (Notts, age 19, caps 4) & Robert Blair (Leics, age 27, caps 46)
Women’s doubles:
Gabby White (Yorks, age 18, caps 3) & Jenny Wallwork (Yorks, age 22, caps 11)
Mixed doubles:
Anthony Clark (Notts, age 31, caps 82) & Donna Kellogg (Derbyshire, age 31, caps 79)