David Ames will captain England at the upcoming men’s World Cup in India after revealing that he was twice forced to consider “the prospect of never being able to pick up a stick again” during prolonged injury rehab.
Ames, 33, spent 24 weeks recovering from knee surgery he described as “truly draining” before returning for Great Britain’s recent Pro League matches in Argentina.
“On two occasions, the prospect of never being able to pick up a stick again, never mind competing at this level was firmly on the cards. The worst of the worst possibilities,” Ames wrote recently.
He will lead England (with James Albery and Zach Wallace as vice-captains) as a key cog in Paul Revington’s side which was announced on Thursday, ahead of their first match against Wales on Jan 13 in Rourkela. The match is already a 20,000 sell out, with hosts India playing on the same day.
Ironically, the England v Wales match will be contested between the best-funded nation in world hockey – England have finished fourth in their last three World Cups – and a Welsh side who are crowdfunding their way to Rourkela and Bhubanesear, the two cities hosting the 2023 showpiece.
Once again, England will be aiming to win their first world title. They last won a trophy at the 2009 EuroHockey Championships, while their best World Cup finish came when they won silver at the 1986 tournament. At the 2018 World Cup they beat Argentina to reach the last four.
For nine of the squad, this will be their first World Cup: Albery, Nick Bandurak, David Goodfield, James Mazarelo, Nick Park, Ollie Payne, Stuart Rushmere, Tom Sorsby and Sam Ward, who missed the 2018 edition with injury.
The others were all part of the team that came fourth in 2018 after losing to Australia, and for Harry Martin and David Condon – the two most experienced players – they will be competing in their third World Cups.
England are also bolstered by the return of Martin, Ames and Liam Sanford after the trio missed the Commonwealth Games campaign.
There is no place for Chris Griffiths, Rhys Smith or James Gall, who missed the recent Pro League matches with injury. Brendan Creed and Ian Sloan will be travelling as reserves with the squad.
England men’s World Cup squad
James Albery (VC) Old Georgians, David Ames © Holcombe, Liam Ansell – Wimbledon, Nick Bandurak – Holcombe, Will Calnan – Hampstead & Westminster, David Condon – Wimbledon, David Goodfield -Surbiton, Harry Martin – Rotterdam, James Mazarelo, (GK) Surbiton, Nick Park – Surbiton, Ollie Payne, (GK) Holcombe, Phil Roper – Holcombe, Stuart Rushmere – Surbiton, Liam Sanford – Old Georgians, Tom Sorsby – Surbiton, Zach Wallace, (VC) HGC, Jack Waller -Wimbledon, Sam Ward – Old Georgians. Travelling reserves: Creed, Brendan, Sloan, Ian