England are seeded to reclaim the Women's World Team Squash Championship title in New Zealand next month, according to the seedings announced today by the World Squash Federation.
The biennial event, featuring 16 nations, will be staged for the 17th time since 1979 at SquashGym in the North Island city of Palmerston North, from 29 November to 4 December.
Six-time champions England finished as runners-up in 2008 in Cairo, where Egypt celebrated a popular maiden triumph on home soil.
Led by Jenny Duncalf, the world No2 making her fourth successive appearance in the championship, England will open their 2010 campaign against 8th seeds Netherlands, 9th seeds USA and 16th seeds Austria in Pool A.
Australia, champions on eight occasions since 1981, are seeded to reach the final for the first time since winning the title in 2004. The team, which finished in sixth place in 2008 and in an all-time low 10th position in 2006, will be boosted by the return of former world number ones Rachael Grinham and Sarah Fitz-Gerald.
Grinham, currently ranked 5 in the world, last played for Australia at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, but made herself unavailable since then due to a falling out with officials.
Fitz-Gerald, who has won five individual world titles and five team titles, retired from the WISPA World Tour in 2003, but has remained incredibly fit and still plays in the A Grade men's competition in Melbourne. The 41-year-old led her country to success in the 2002 championships, while Grinham, 33, was the team number one in their 2004 title victory.
Hosts New Zealand are named as fifth seeds - but will be hoping that local support will help them reach the final, as in 1985 and 1992. The Kiwi squad will be led by Commonwealth Games stars Jaclyn Hawkes and Joelle King - who together won the Gold medal in the Women's Doubles. King went on to win silver in the Mixed Doubles to become her country's most successful athlete in Delhi.
But also making a popular comeback for New Zealand will be Shelley Kitchen, the former world No6 who will be competing on the international stage for the first time since the birth of her first child, daughter Amalia, in February.
New Zealand will line up initially in Pool D against Malaysia, the fourth seeds who are led by world number one Nicol David.
Defending champions Egypt - featuring the same three players, Omneya Abdel Kawy, Raneem El Weleily and Engy Kheirallah, who led the hosts to a narrow victory over England two years ago - are the event's third seeds.
Pool A:  ENGLAND,  NETHERLANDS,  USA,  AUSTRIA
Pool B:  AUSTRALIA,  IRELAND,  INDIA,  JAPAN
Pool C:  EGYPT,  FRANCE,  SOUTH AFRICA,  MEXICO
Pool D:  MALAYSIA,  NEW ZEALAND,  CANADA,  HONG KONG
photos Janos Schmidt