Warrnambool croquet player headed for Selectors' Invitation in Melbourne

THRILLED: Ian Kelson will travel to Melbourne to play in a Victorian Croquet Association's Selectors Invitation tournament.
THRILLED: Ian Kelson will travel to Melbourne to play in a Victorian Croquet Association's Selectors Invitation tournament.

CROQUET was never Ian Kelson’s first choice.

Lawn bowls appeared the likely option, until his son fell in love with the sport and started dominating adult competitions as an adolescent.

Kelson’s interested in the historic game then peaked, spurring on an 18-year career in the south-west.

Kelson’s prowess in the sport – which began at Koroit before he and his wife Margaret migrated to Warrnambool – has earned an invitation to the prestigious Selectors’ Invitation tournament next month.

“My son, when he was 12 years old, won division two at a regional competition,” Kelson said.

“That’s when I first started watching it. My wife played, but I didn’t watch her that often. My kids were virtually raised on the croquet lawn. 

“She took them down from the time they were born. But watching my son play at the regionals is what got me interested.”

Kelson said he was thrilled to earn the invitation. He expected to be “competitive”.

“I wouldn’t expect to win the tournament, but I’d like to think I could win one or two games,” he told The Standard.

"I’ll be in my own class so it’s not as if I’ll have to play the top boys. I think there’s a good chance.

“It’s a feather in your cap to be invited to this. I’d say the Victorian regionals is probably the biggest tournament I’ve been to, and I’ve been competitive in that, so there’s no reason I can’t be competitive here.”

While he favours an attacking approach at club level, Kelson revealed he’d adopt a more cautious approach at the Cairnlea tournament.

“You’re probably a little bit more defensive. You want to be cautious as to where you leave your balls,” he said.

“I’m not going to take too many risks or leave my ball sitting in the middle of the lawn where my opponent can use it.”

The event begins on December 9 at Croquet Victoria’s Cairnlea base.