England’s Barry Middleton became England’s most capped international hockey player when he led his country against Australia at Bisham Abbey on Saturday.
The game was the 30-year-old’s 203rd game for England. He also has 105 Great Britain caps giving him a total one better than 1988 Olympic gold medallist Russell Garcia’s 307 international appearances.
England coach Bobby Crutchley said: “As a player Barry is a consummate professional. His approach to both his training and his own personal development allows him to keep making improvements even after a decade of playing at the very top.
“As a captain, he leads by example and is incredibly selfless; all the lads in the squad have a huge amount of respect for him and it’s been great to watch his leadership of the group develop across the five years since he took the captain’s armband back in 2009.”
It was Australia, however, who took the honours on the day, winning 2-1 as both sides continued their preparations for the Rabobank World Cup.
A last minute penalty corner from Chris Ciriello decided the game after England’s 11th-minute lead, through a Phil Roper open-play goal, was cancelled out by a Kieran Govers corner in the 20th.
“It’s very disappointing to lose to a highly-ranked team after a fairly evenly matched game, however I thought we could’ve done better with a number of chances that we created,” said Crutchley.
Things began well for England as Wimbledon’s Roper gave them the lead. An aerial ball from the right led to Tim Whiteman putting the ball across the front of goal, where Roper deflected home from two yards out.
But their lead lasted just nine minutes before Kieran Govers scored his corner. Middleton got a stick to the shot but couldn’t stop it trickling over the line.
The scoreline remained tied until the last 45 seconds, when George Pinner managed to get a hand to Ciriello’s shot, but couldn’t stop it going in .
The two sides meet again in another test match at Bisham Abbey on Sunday, May 25, starting at 3pm.