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England take the Yonex International

ENGLAND celebrated their new Yonex team kit with a 3-2 win over Germany in the Yonex International at Preston Guild Hall tonight.

The England team wore the outfits they will wear again at the Sudirman Cup world mixed team championships in Glasgow in June when they will sport "home and away" strips.

And it inspired them to victory with Gail Emms leading the way just as she did against the Danes last year in Preston.

Against Denmark she won two matches to help England beat the Danes for the first time in 20 years. And tonight she did it again as England beat Germany 3-2 to repeat their victory of the European Championships in Holland last April.

Emms (Herts) and Donna Kellogg (Derbyshire), who was playing her 70th international, put England on the way by repeating their individual European gold medal performance against Nicole Grether and Juliane Schenk, winning 21-13, 21-14.

World silver medallists Robert Blair (Leics) and Anthony Clark (Notts) put England in sight of victory when they outplayed Kristof Hopp and Michael Fuchs in the men's doubles 21-17 21-6 to put England 2-1 up. Fuchs was deputising for injured Ingo Kindervater.

But either side of the men's doubles, the singles again proved the England weak link. National champion Elizabeth Cann (Middx) led world bronze medallist and European champion Xu Huaiwen 11-7 in the first game before the Chiense-born star's experience and speed around the court proved decisive in a 21-13 21-10 win.

And European junior champion Rajiv Ouseph (Middx), the world No 53 playing his first home international, began well against seven-times German champion and world No 22 Bjoern Joppien before the tall German took control and ran out a 21-13 21-14 winner.

That left Emms and Nathan Robertson, the world and Commownealth champions to finish the job. Ever reliable, the Olympic silver medallists did just that with a 21-14 21-11 win over Hopp and Schenk, who were both playing their second match of the night after a day of exams for Hopp, to give England a 3-2 win after all the five rubbers had ended in straight games.

Schenk was drafted into the mixed doubles after Katrin Piotrowski went down with flu.

The win put the England players in good heart for the German Open next week.Then they have the Yonex All England Championships from March 6-11 in Birmingham when Robertson and Emms will be bidding for their third consecutive final appearance as they look to recapture their 2005 title.

The glass trophy was presented to the winning team by the Mayor of Preston, Cllr Bill Tyson and Yonex Europe managing director Mr Kei Yanagi. Anthony Clark, playing his 67th international, received the trophy.

And that was fitting. As a young cricketer Clark clean bowled Andrew Flintoff in a schoolboy county match. And last night his 67 England appearances matched Flintoff's 67 Tests for England.

Coach Andy Wood said: "It's a pity one of the matches didn't go to three games. But it's always close against Germany and we're just pleased to win."

Those fans who weren't in a big and appreciative crowd at the Guild Hall can see the highlights of the match on BBC2 on Sunday afternoon from 13:55 GMT.

Results of the Yonex International

England 3 Germany 2

Women's doubles:Gail Emms & Donna Kellogg bt Nicole Grether & Juliane Schenk 21-13 21-14

Women's singles: Elizabeth Cann lost to Xu Huaiwen 21-13 21-10

Men's doubles: Robert Blair & Anthony Clark bt Kristof Hopp & Michael Fuchs 21-17 21-6

Men's singles: Rajiv Ouseph lost to Bjoern Joppien 21-13 21-14

Mixed doubles: Nathan Robertson & Gail Emms bt Kristof Hopp & Juliane Schenk 21-14 21-11