Australia is counting on doubles expertise to counter England’s world rankings dominance at the Commonwealth Games.
England look exceptionally strong with four of the world’s top 10 men: Nick Matthew (2), James Willstrop (6), Peter Barker (8) and Daryl Selby (10) and two of the top 10 women – No.2 Laura Massaro and No.6 Alison Waters.
It’s been a few years since Australia boasted the last of its lengthy list of world No.1s.
Cameron Pilley is the top ranked man at No.19 while Rachael Grinham tops the women at No.15.
But the beauty of the Games tournament is that it offers three doubles gold medals – men’s, women’s and mixed – as well as the men’s and women’s singles golds.
And that’s where the best chances lie for Australia’s 10-strong team, which includes former world No.1s in 37-year-old veterans David Palmer and Grinham, at their fifth and fourth Games respectively.
The doubles emphasis worked a treat in Delhi when all six Australian combinations reached semi-finals and the team came away with the mixed doubles gold through Kasey Brown and Pilley, plus one silver and three bronze medals.
Brown and Pilley are back, having maintained Australia’s streak of winning gold at every Games since the strong Commonwealth sport of squash was introduced in 1998.
Brown also won a singles bronze in Delhi when seeded sixth.
Palmer was expected to quit Games competition following Delhi but he gets one more chance to add an elusive gold medal to his personal tally of two silver and four bronze.
Grinham, who missed the Delhi Games following a dispute with squash’s national body, has a gold, silver and two bronze medals to her name, all in doubles.
Selected for their first Games are 25-year-old Zac Alexander, 31-year-old Steven Finitsis and 22-year-old Sarah Cardwell.
Daughter of former world champion Vicki, Cardwell is acting as a women’s reserve and says she’d be “over the moon” if she got the chance to play.
But if not, she’s already got her sights set on the Gold Coast.
“I want a medal in 2018,” she says.