11:34 am
16 Apr 2024

Barker To Make England World Championship Team Debut

19 Nov 2007

Essex squash player Peter Barker has achieved the first goal he set himself this season by being selected for the England team which will defend its world title in next month's ICL Men's World Team Championship in India.

The 24-year-old world No13 from Upminster, who is making his world team championship debut, will be joined in the England squad by world No5 James Willstrop, 24, from Pontefract in Yorkshire; Nick Matthew, the 27-year-old world No6 from Sheffield; and Lee Beachill, the world No12 from Pontefract who celebrates his 30th birthday at the end of this month.

"I'm absolutely delighted - it's excellent news, I can't wait," said Barker after hearing the news from England Squash. "Even though I've played for England before in the Europeans, this will be very different - the expectations are different, as we're always favourites in Europe.

"Although we are defending champions, we probably won't be top seeds in India - but I hope we're seeded to reach the final, and that we play Egypt in the final."

It'll be Barker's first time back in India since reaching the individual World Junior Championship final in December 2005, where he played England team-mate James Willstrop. "It'll be good to go back there - though we lost in the world team final (to Pakistan), so hopefully we'll put that right this time!"

"There's a completely different kind of pressure playing team events - we're much more used to playing against each other rather with each other," explained left-hander Barker. "And everybody seems to play a little bit better against you when they're playing for their country!

"Despite the fact that I'm the only southerner in the squad, we all get on really well together - the team spirit is really immense. We've all been training together in national squads for some years now and are really good friends.

"Playing in the World Team Championships was my first goal of the season - so I'm glad to have achieved this," added Barker. "My next is to get into the world top ten!

"I'm so excited - let's hope we can come back with the goods!"

While James Willstrop and Nick Matthew will be making their third England appearances in the world championships next month, Lee Beachill will be celebrating his fourth after making his debut in Melbourne in 2001.

It was an England squad led by Willstrop, and including Matthew and Beachill, which won the biennial world team title in 2005 - England's third title triumph since 1995.

Egypt is the only other squad competing in India which will feature an all-world-top-twenty line-up.