Mel Clewlow's Guide to the Investec London Cup

Mel Clewlow
Canterbury defender Mel Clewlow played for Great Britain at two Olympic Games, Sydney in 2000 and Beijing in 2008.  Mel will be the summariser on Sky Sports this week alongside lead commentator Nick Irvine as they bring you all the latest from the Investec London Cup in Chiswick.  Mel will also be a summariser for the BBC at this summer’s Olympic Games.

Here, as the squads for the Investec London Cup are published, she gives her thoughts on the six teams and their key danger women.

Currently ranked 7th in the World, I think it is safe to say that Australia have been going through a re-building phase with current coach Adam Commens but they are the Commonwealth Games gold medallists and still have some highly rated players in their ranks. Madonna Blyth is their inspirational captain and world junior player of the year in 2009 Casey Eastham are the players to watch. Australia usually plays a high tempo game putting teams under pressure from the first whistle; defensively a lot will depend on the performances of Kobi McGurk and goalkeeper Toni Cronk while in attack we should all watch out for Hope Munro.

Players to watch: Madonna Blyth, Casey Eastham

Currently ranked 3rd in the world, the Germans have been in the world’s top four for many years as they are regular semi-finalists in major competitions. One thing they will be hoping to change is converting these semi-finals into medals something they have fallen just short of recently. In Natascha Keller they have one of the world’s great players, London would be her 5th Olympic Games and having tasted Gold in Athens in 2004 she certainly has the experience and goal scoring ability to win any match. Another Athens survivor is Fanny Rinne, a midfield dynamo at the heart of the German midfield her ability to link up with Keller will be crucial over the next few months.

Players to watch: Natascha Keller, Fanny Rinne

Great Britain
A steady rise up the world rankings since Beijing sees GB now 4th in the world and genuine medal contenders in the summer. With arguably the best goal keeper in the world Beth Storry,  and captain Kate Walsh solid at the heart of the defence it is no surprise that the recent successes have been built on a solid defensive performance while Helen Richardson has superb individual skills, which can wreak havoc in any opponent’s defence. GB will be without the influential pair of Crista Cullen and Alex Danson and much of this week’s success will depend on how the squad performs without these two world class players.

Players to watch: Helen Richardson, Kate Walsh

Ireland is ranked 14 in the world and having narrowly missed out to Belgium in the Olympic qualifier will be looking at this tournament as the start of the rebuilding process. They have a new coach since Gene Muller stepped down and all the players here will be hoping to impress and secure their place in future Ireland squads. One thing you will see is a determined, dogged performance by the Irish girls who are usually a difficult side to break down. Emma Clarke, who plays her hockey with Investec Women’s Premier Division champions Leicester, could have a huge role to play in the midfield for Ireland while Nikki Symmons could provide a threat with her aerial and long range passing ability.

Players to watch: Nikki Symmons, Emma Clarke

Defending Olympic gold medallists and world number one the Netherlands will be hoping to build on the disappointing (in their view) bronze medal won in the Champions Trophy in January. One thing that is evident to me with this team, rarely do they lose two games in any tournament and they thoroughly deserve to be the world number one. Maartje Paumen is a big game player for the Dutch and is arguably the best drag flicker in the world. The Dutch historically always compete for medals and I can’t see it being any different here at the Investec London Cup or in London at the Olympic Games.

Player to watch: Maartje Paumen

South Africa
Don’t be fooled by their world ranking of 12. The Investec South Africa team have the potential to beat any team in the world. Kate Woods in defence has the potential to penetrate teams with her accurate passing, Marsha Marescia is an outstanding creative midfield player and up front they have the world record goal scorer Pietie Coetzee , 234 goals in 239 test matches who is lethal from both open play and penalty corners. Whilst a lot will depend on these 3 players, there are plenty of other players who can influence a game - Sulette Damons, Shelley Russell, Kathleen Taylor are fast skilful players, Jen Wilson has been in good goal scoring form and Tarryn Bright is in my opinion an under-rated player in world hockey.

Players to watch: Marsha Marescia, Pietie Coetzee

Mel will join Nick Irvine in the commentary box at the Investec London Cup all week.  See the broadcast schedule below and make sure you tune in.

*SS = Sky Sports

Wednesday 6 June Day 1 highlights 19:00-21:00 SS4
Thursday 7 June Day 1 highlights 06:30-08:30 SS4
Thursday 7 June Day 2 highlights 19:00-21:00 SS4
Friday 8 June Day 2 highlights 04:00-06:00 SS4
Friday 8 June Day 2 highlights 14:00-16:00 SS4
Friday 8 June Day 3 highlights 22:00-00:00 SS4
Saturday 9 June Day 3 highlights 11:00-13:00 SS4
Sunday 10 June Finals Day Live 12:30-18:00 SS3
Monday 11 June Finals Day hightlights 09:00-14:30 SS4

*** Tickets are still available for all five days. ***
We're open for business over the Jubilee Bank Holiday.

Buy standing tickets on the gate to complete your Jubillee celebrations on Tuesday by cheering on Great Britiain against South Africa.  On Thursday, see GB take on their long time rivals Germany in a battle between fourth & third in the world.   On Saturday, find out first who wins at the England Hockey Annual Awards lunch with great seats for both semi finals. Sunday's Finals Day still has hospitality and standing tickets to see who will lift the Investec London Cup.