Crutchley names Champions Trophy squad

The familiar duo of England captain Barry Middleton and Ashley Jackson in action at the 2014 Rabobank World Cup 450

England Men’s Head Coach Bobby Crutchley has named his squad of 18 athletes for the 2014 Hero Champions Trophy. The tournament, which is taking place in Bhubaneswar, India, will run from Saturday 6 December to Sunday 14 December.

England are in Pool A and will face Australia, Belgium and Pakistan in the preliminary stages while Pool B sees Argentina, the Netherlands and Germany battle it out against hosts India.  

The squad
After a fourth place finish at the World Cup and a Commonwealth bronze medal, Crutchley’s team remains largely unchanged following a solid two month training block and test matches [as Great Britain] against France which saw two dominant 9-1 and 10-0 victories. Holcombe and East Grinstead lead the way with club selection as they see five athletes each named in the squad [further details below].

October has been a good month for the East Grinstead duo of Chris Griffiths and Patrick Smith; after impressing Crutchley during their Great Britain debuts against France two weeks ago and showing strong form in training and for their club, both have earned a call-up for England duty. Griffiths will make his England debut at the tournament.

Beeston’s Tim Whiteman, who was forced to miss the Commonwealth Games following a broken thumb, comes back into the line-up.

The other addition to the squad is Reading’s Tom Carson, who comes back into the fold after missing out on selection for the Commonwealth Games. Carson will be no stranger to England fans after making 49 appearances and scoring 14 times since making his debut in June last year.

Quotes – England Head Coach Bobby Crutchley
On the tournament: “The Champions Trophy will provide us with the first real opportunity to assess where we are at as a squad following a significant block of training [September-November].  We are looking forward to going to Bhubaneswar for the first time and it will be interesting to see the new system of four quarters over 60 minutes in place for the first time at a major tournament.”
 
On England debutant Chris Griffiths: “The tournament sets us against the best teams in the world and allows us to give new players an opportunity to play at the very top. Chris [Griffiths] has impressed since he joined the programme and I’ve watched him improve through the junior age groups and through his club hockey at Loughborough Students and now East Grinstead. He’s an exciting young forward and I’m looking forward to seeing him step up to senior international hockey.”

Pool A opponents
Crutchley’s side face a tough opening game as they play world number one side Australia. Not only are the Kookaburras the current World Cup and Commonwealth Games Champions, but they will also be defending their Champions Trophy title after Kieran Govers’ golden goal winner handed them a 2-1 victory against the Netherlands in the 2012 final.

Belgium, who England beat 3-2 at the World Cup in The Hague to qualify for the semi-finals are ranked fourth in the world, one place above Bobby Crutchley’s side. It’s always a feisty affair between these two sides with Belgium winning three out of their last five encounters.

Pakistan are the lowest ranked side in the competition, with a current world placing of 11th. They come into the competition off the back of a silver medal at the Asian games, where they lost the final in dramatic fashion via a shootout with India. Three of the last five meetings between England and Pakistan have finished in a draw, so expect it to go down to the wire.

2014 Men’s Hero Champions Trophy – Squad
Name – club – hometown, region
Alastair Brogdon – Wimbledon – Hale, Manchester
Tom Carson – Reading – Wellington, Somerset
Nick Catlin – Holcombe – Marlow, Buckinghamshire
David Condon – East Grinstead – Leicester, Leicestershire
Adam Dixon – Beeston – Nottingham, Nottinghamshire
Dan Fox – Holcombe – Godalming, Surrey
Mark Gleghorne – East Grinstead – Antrim, Northern Ireland
Chris Griffiths – East Grinstead – Birmingham, West Midlands
Michael Hoare – Wimbledon – Liverpool, Merseyside
Ashley Jackson – East Grinstead – Tunbridge Wells, Kent
Iain Lewers – Holcombe – Belfast, Northern Ireland
Harry Martin – Beeston – Ipswich, Suffolk
Barry Middleton – Holcombe – Doncaster, South Yorkshire
George Pinner (GK) – Holcombe – Ipswich, Suffolk
Phil Roper – Wimbledon – Chester, Cheshire
Patrick Smith (GK) – East Grinstead – Harlow, Essex
Henry Weir – Wimbledon – Nantwich, Cheshire
Tim Whiteman – Beeston – Bungay, Suffolk

Champions Trophy: the tournament - Source: FIH
The front runners
Australia are the most successful men's team with 13 titles to their name. The Kookaburras have dominated the competition for the past decade, not only are they the defending champions, having won the event in 2012 on home turf at Melbourne, they also won the previous four tournaments. Four titles behind them are Germany who have won the tournament nine times, with the Dutch winning eight times. Along with Pakistan three times, and Spain once in 2004, these are the only teams to have been crowned Champions Trophy winners.

Bhubaneswar, India – the hosts
The opening day of the tournament (Saturday 6 December) will feature all eight teams taking to the field on India's first newly built Olympic standard pink and blue hockey pitch in the Kalinga Stadium.  The 5,000 seater stadium also serves as the home ground for Hero Hockey India League franchise, Kalinga Lancers.

Qualification for this year's edition was as follows:
India qualified as host nation and their fourth place in the 2012 Champions Trophy; Australia are the defending champions; the Netherlands were runners-up in the 2012 Champions Trophy; Pakistan and Belgium qualify by virtue of their third and fifth respective placings in the 2012 Champions Trophy; Argentina were winners of the 2012 Champions Challenge 1, while England and Germany were given invitational places.

The future of the Champions Trophy
From 2016, the qualification criteria as set out by FIH will be slightly modified to accommodate the Hockey World League results. Qualifying teams will comprise: the host, the 2012 Olympic Champions, the 2014 World Cup winners, 2015 World League champions, the winners of the 2014 Champions Challenge and a team nominated by FIH Executive Board. If any team qualifies twice under the criteria, then FIH Executive Board will invite a further team.  The format of the competition will also revert to a six team round robin followed by classification matches.

For all the details of the Champions Trophy, including the full schedule visit the tournament website.

You can see Bobby Crutchley's England side live next August. They will be in action on home soil when Eurohockey 2015 comes to London's Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre. England will face Netherlands, Spain and Russia in the pool stage. For all the details of the competion and how to get tickets, click here.