full-strength England will take on a Rest of the World team in the
eagerly-anticipated Ab Initio Squash International in Surrey on Friday –
with the event being showcased live across the globe and featuring a
number of exciting elements to capture the Test match feel.
England will field a world-class line-up consisting of Nick Matthew, the
three-time world champion, James Willstrop, Daryl Selby and Laura
Massaro, the 2013 women's world champion, on the all-glass show court at
St George’s Hill Lawn Tennis Club, Weybridge.
The mixed quartet will take on Egypt’s Mohamed Elshorbagy, New Zealander
Paul Coll, Australia’s Cameron Pilley and Hollie Naughton of Canada.
This sold out and free to watch event will be broadcast by BBC Sport,
live on their website and on smart connected TVs. Fans will also be able
to watch via the BBC Sport downloadable app.
Squash will also be showcased for the first time in 360 Virtual Reality,
with viewers able to watch the action unfold on YouTube using mobile
devices with or without VR Headsets such as google cardboard or Oculus
The first match starts at 6pm and will be preceded by entertainment from
renowned opera singer Alexander Wall.
Danny Lee, event promoter and head coach at St George’s Hill, said: “I
am delighted England are using this as a proper international. To have
seven athletes who will also be at the Commonwealth Games is a big scoop
for us as a club.”
The four singles’ matches will be played over three games, with every
point counting towards the overall team score. Bonus points will also be
secured for games and matches won.
Nev Appleton (director of MOOV TV), who is producing the event, said:
“I'm really looking forward to the evening, especially seeing how the
event unfolds. We will have about 12 cameras on the night, most of which
are robotic and also a new custom-built camera for the back wall.
“We'll also feed live scores to screens around the venue so as this
unique, 'every point counts' format unfolds both players and spectators
can share the excitement. We are also running a trial broadcast in VR
360 live on YouTube. This will consist of two 4K 360-degree cameras with
augmented scoring and replays - and will be a first for squash."
England team includes three former world No 1’s in Matthew, Willstrop
and Massaro, England women’s No 1. For Matthew, Willstrop and Selby, the
evening will also be a key warm-up ahead of next week’s WSF Men’s World
Team Championship in Marseille.
Matthew, who retires at the end of the season, said: “This is the
perfect preparation to play world-class players right before the world
teams. It also gives us the perfect excuse to get the team together a
couple of days earlier than what we would normally do.
“We are under no illusions as to the difficulty of our task in becoming
world champions and we will go to France as well prepared and ready to
represent the shirt as well as we always do.”
The Rest of the World team features an in-form Elshorbagy, the
Bristol-based former world No 1 who has won four out of five titles this
season, including the $100,000 Channel VAS Championships at St George's
Hill last month. Coll and Pilley, meanwhile, will both be major rivals
to England’s hopes at next April’s Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.
Organisers will trial an innovative referee system on the night, with a
former player – Ireland’s Steve Richardson – working alongside a top
official and consulting on decisions.
Lee hopes that the initiative will spark interest with retiring players
in the future. “There is currently a lack of new referees coming through
of a sufficient level,” he said.
Schedule (November 24, starts 6pm)
Daryl Selby (world No 15) v Cameron Pilley (Australia, world No 19)
Laura Massaro (world No 4) v Hollie Naughton (Canadian champion, world
James Willstrop (world No 10) v Paul Coll (New Zealand, world No 9)
Nick Matthew (world No 5) v Mohamed Elshorbagy (Egypt, world No 3)