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Ab Initio International 2017 ENGLAND v REST OF THE WORLD


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Ab Initio International 2017
24 Nov

Weybridge, Surrey, England


England bt Rest of the World on points won: 122-121

Daryl Selby beat Cameron Pilley (AUS) 10-12, 11-9, 11-7 (36-29)
Laura Massaro beat Hollie Naughton (CAN) 11-9, 11-6, 6-11 (32-27)
James Willstrop lost to Paul Coll (NZ) 10-12, 11-5, 7-11 (29-32)
Nick Matthew lost to Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) 10-12, 3-11, 11-6 (27-30)


England edge Rest of the World in thriller

England beat Rest of the World by a single point in the inaugural Ab Initio Squash International at St George's Hill Lawn Tennis Club in Weybridge, Surrey on Friday night.

In the first televised test match since the 1980s, the England quartet of Daryl Selby, Laura Massaro, James Willstrop and Nick Matthew won 122-121 in a riveting contest which came down to a run chase and where every rally and point mattered.

England's garlanded four were all given severe tests before the men's trio departed for the World Team Championships on Saturday morning and Massaro fine tunes her game ahead of the World Championships later this month.

Individually, Selby beat Australia's Cameron Pilley and Massaro overcame Canadian Hollie Naughton, while Paul Coll, of New Zealand, beat Willstrop in a physical duel.

Coll's victory saw England head into the final match holding a slender nine-point lead over Rest of the World at 97-88 to the good.

That lead was overhauled dramatically when Egypt's in-form Mohamed Elshorbagy won the opening two games against Matthew.

But England's three-time world champion held on 11-6 in the last, with Elshorbagy needing just one winner, having won the two bonus points on offer for the match win.

The contest was so tight that the scoreline had to be verified and the numbers crunched for several seconds before England were announced as trophy winners.

Earlier, opera singer Alexander Wall sang Jersusalem and Nessun Dorma before the passion was carried over into the four matches.

The evening was all about points being won, with one and two bonus points on offer for games and matches won in each rubber respectively.

Selby and Pilley opened proceedings in front of a sell-out crowd on the all-glass showcourt.
In a rollercoaster clash between two rival nations, Selby came back from a game down to hand England a 36-29 lead after winning 2-1 in games.

Laura Massaro, England's women No 1, beat Naughton, the Canadian champion, in the only women's match of the contest.

Massaro rallied in the first to take it 11-9 and then raced away with the second.

But Naughton came back brilliantly in the final game to give the Rest of the World some important points at the half-way stage of the match, with England holding a 12-point cushion at 68-56.
Willstrop and Coll then played out an energetic encounter as the Kiwi prevailed on the same court where he won the 2016 Channel Vas Championship.

Friday night's event was broadcast on the BBC Sport website and was showcased for the first time in 360 virtual reality, with viewers able to watch the action unfold on YouTube.


"The points are crucial and every point counts in this format. It's great and I felt nervous.
"It means a lot to be playing in the England shirt again. I love playing the PSA World Tour but when you are with a team it gives you that extra edge.

"I am a team man. We have been through a lot together this team [the men's World Championship team play in France next week] and I don't know how much longer we can go on for. But it means so much to play for England."


"The format is so different dynamically. Even when I was ahead I was trying to get as many points as I could.
"The situation is all about points and to win the match despite losing was weird!

"I really enjoy it with the team dynamics. There is an argument to finding out who is best by combining the best men and women together in a kind of World Cup format.
"It is about finding a way to fit it in the calendar with the World Team Championships, but it would be great."

"Tonight was about putting on a show. That's the type of drama you want. Mohamed and I have had too many battles down the years to fix that! It was unbelievably dramatic.
"It was the perfect tune up for the World Team Championships and we're proud that we're champions."

England set for testing night v Rest of the World

A 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 gear VR.

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."

The 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)

Followed by
Laura Massaro (world No 4) v Hollie Naughton (Canadian champion, world No 32)
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)