SURBITON, SURREY, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (AUGUST 18, 2013) (HUTC) - Rather like golf used to be, croquet is perceived as a game for the elite, not for the masses, but with a growing number of younger competitors the sport is gradually changing this perception.
At the Singles World Championship title in the UK, 32 of the World's top players competed but the final of the Association Croquet World Championship 2013 was between two new world giants; 25-year-old Paddy Chapman from New Zealandand 20-year-old Robert Fletcher from Australia.
The tournament is played over a week across different venues with the enthralling final being played at Surbiton in Surrey. Like many sporting events hosted in different countries around the globe, the event happens approximately every two years.
The lawns were cut fresh in the morning before play, and the hoops are in new holes.
Like all games, croquet is simple when reduced to its most basics. It consists of a lawn measuring 35 yards by 28, six hoops, four flags, one peg that stands in the middle of the six hoops. Essentially the competition consists of a race between the two people to get both of their balls through twelve hoops and hit the peg, so it's a race to twenty six points.
Samir Patel, the captain of the Great Britain croquet team, explained "The game began in a reasonably modern form in the 1800's. The history is a little confused in terms of where it came from with theories of it being evolved in Ireland, India, all sorts of places. It's now mainly played in commonwealth countries - so Britain,Australia, New Zealand but those also with a few ties to the UK, so the US, Canada,Egypt and so on."
What makes Association Croquet unique as a ball game is the croquet stroke. Once players manage to hit another ball with their own (termed a "roquet") they must place their ball against this second ball before playing the next stroke. Hitting two balls in this way is called "taking croquet". The highest level of the sport requires a lot of hand to eye co-ordination and tactical ability, as well as nerves of steel. The players need knowledge of angles much the same as those needed to play snooker or billiards along with the strategic elements of chess.
Like tennis, it is the best of 5 rounds for each match and the first two were intensely close with round one taking an epic 3 hours 17 minutes but left Robert ahead with a score of 26 to 22. Round two was also close but a little swifter with Robert taking the advantage with a score of 26 to 23. Finally Robert was able to exert his domination of the final by taking the third and final round in an impressive 26 to 0 and was thus crowned World Champion.
Robert who now is the youngest ever world croquet champion said, "Yes, it's pretty special. I've worked really hard with practice and everything and I've also been quite close in a couple of the other events. I was a semi-finalist in my first in 2009 inAmerica and then very close losing to the finalist in 2012 in Australia so to win this one is pretty special."