The last time England came here for a major hockey tournament was in 2010 for the Commonwealth Games, when it lost to India in the semifinals on penalties.
This time around, coach Bobby Crutchley hopes that his wards would be third-time lucky at the National Stadium during the Hockey World League starting January 10.
England finished fourth in both the CWG and in the 2010 World Cup at the same venue, and though a lot of players have retired since then, the core of the team remains the same.
“A lot of things have changed. Even I have graduated from assisting to being in charge now. I don’t think past performance will affect the players, but, yes, the kind of noise then was unbelievable,” says Crutchley, after the team’s first training session on Monday.
“The crowds we saw were amazing, and if that happens again, things can be very different.”
Interestingly, England opens its campaign against India.
The team arrived late on Sunday night.
Seven of the England players here were part of the squad at the CWG, and six, including captain Barry Middleton and the talented Ashley Jackson, were at the World Cup.
Crutchley says he is counting on the mix of youth and experience to deliver.
“We are missing a few players due to the European indoor tournament, but we are pretty much as full-strength as we can be. It will be a very important marker for us ahead of a busy year,” Crutchley says.
There are no competitions between now and the World Cup in May, and the coach is keen to assess his opponents.
“It will be interesting to see where the different teams are at. Everyone has prepared differently, and it’s the beginning of the year.
“So, in that sense, it will be an interesting event with the top eight teams in fray,” Crutchley says.