Bowls round-up: English title hopes dashed on tricky Paphos greens
Bowls on Aphrodite’s island in the Mediterranean? – It sounds idyllic, and the added lure of the World Bowls Champion of Champions certainly attracted national champions from all over the globe to the Athena Beach Hotel in Paphos in Cyprus.
England’s hopes of striking gold were dashed when David Bolt, a Durham postman, crashed out in the last four of the men’s event, while Cambridgeshire’s Ellen Falkner, a sports development officer, failed to qualify from her group in the women’s.
The weather was good, and so was the organisation, but the rinks were exceptionally tricky, leading to some very unpredictable results. Bolt, for example, beat Malaysia’s Hizlee Abdul Rais in group play, but lost to the same player in straight sets in the semi-finals.
Falkner, who was incredibly unlucky, scored 109 shots more than her opponents in 12 games, and her failure to qualify highlighted the cruelty of the sets format.
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Typically, she won one set by a country mile, lost the next by a narrow margin, and was edged out on a tie-break. Despite boasting the best shots advantage in the competition, she finished well down the table, and went home, as Anne Robinson would say, “with nothing!”
Rais was the first player from Malaysia to win the men’s title, while the women’s title was annexed by Sandra Keith, from New Zealand.
For the first time at World Bowls Tour level, a time-clock will be used in an attempt to speed up play in the Co-operative Funeralcare Scottish International Open, which gets underway in Perth on Saturday.
Amy Stanton, who learnt to play bowls as a teenager at Wellington in Somerset, made history at the weekend, when she not only retained the World Indoor Bowls Council women’s under 25 singles title in Fraserburgh, but won it for the third year running.
Stanton, who now plays out of the Malvern Hills club in Worcestershire, came through a strong group, then defeated two Scots – Kirsty Gardiner and Michelle Keenan – in the semi-finals and final.
Kent prodigy Perry Martin made it a great weekend for England when he delivered a double whammy knockout blow to Scots Martin McCalley and Calum Logan, and won the men’s under 25 singles title.
Martin, who won the national senior and junior titles last winter, also partnered Guernsey’s Lauren Batiste to the mixed pairs title.
Gloucestershire’s Jack Daniels and Adam Smith, and Somerset trio Liam White, Jack Groves and Barney Green won praise from England President Bernard Millard when they attended the national School of Excellence at Melton Mowbray at the weekend.
“Although they didn’t come away with any of the main prizes, the West Country five did extremely well to qualify as members of the top 32 young bowlers in England,” he said.
Somerset will be without five players who played their part in last winter’s successful Liberty Trophy campaign, but team manager Don Fowkes is confident they can be replaced without weakening the side.
“We have lost Neil Kunc and Tim Salter, from Street, Clevedon duo John Hick and Craig Walker and Bristol’s Ryan Collier, but we are lucky that Steve Smith, a Welsh junior international, who has recently joined the Bristol club, is available for us this term,” said Fowkes yesterday. “We also have men of the calibre of young Reece Williams, a new cap from Street, and experienced campaigners like Bristol’s Jason Sparkes, Watchet’s Andrew Rendell, Donyatt’s Paul Denslow and Taunton’s James Amery to call on,” he added.
Fowkes held what he calls an internal trial last weekend, and was delighted with the response: “There was some excellent bowls players, and the camaraderie was second to none,” he added. “They were back to their leg-pulling best, and that is good for team spirit.”
The team to face Wiltshire at the North Wilts club, Chippenham, on Saturday week was announced following the trial, and Fowkes was especially pleased to include the highly experience Peter Birmingham from Bristol and Clevedon’s Steve Withers in the squad, along with another new cap, Jack Groves, from Watchet.
“Jack, who is only 14, is an exceptional talent,” Fowkes says. “I have very high expectation of him in the future.”
Clarrie Dunbar certainly believe in putting out a full-strength side in the Warner Leisure hotels Wessex League, and were rewarded last Sunday with a 123-37 victory over neighbours Purnell.
While Russell Francis and Andy Colebrooke skipped Clarrie’s home rinks to wins of 40-6 and 27-11 respectively, the away rinks skipped by Terry Perkins and Graham Shadwell were not far behind with wins of 27-8 and 29-12.
Although Westlecot made a confident start to their Wessex campaign, beating Loddon Vale, 93-71, they managed to win on only two rinks – skipped by John Thomas and Chris Cheesley – so took only 12 of the 16 points on offer.
A car containing Christie Miller players bound for Bristol for their opening Wessex League match broke down, and not even the AA could repair it – so only the Melksham half of that fixture was fulfilled.
With the rinks honours shared at Melksham, Bristol find themselves 42-33 in front, and the League management have allowed the two rinks at Bristol to be re-arranged – in accordance, they say, with the provisions of Rule 33.
“Bristol have offered us a couple of dates, and it looks as if we will complete the fixture in January,” said a spokesman for Christie Miller.
Next weekend sees the bowls caravan move on, as the Hong Kong International Classic gets underway at various clubs in the former Colony, where, even though most of the ex-pats have gone home, bowls is booming, thanks to the enthusiasm of Chinese bowlers.
The Classic is bowling’s equivalent of Rugby Union’s Hong Kong Sevens – a celebration of all that’s best in the sport, and a means of attracting the world’s best bowlers to play in such places as the Kowloon Bowling Green Club and the Craigengower Cricket Club.
Representing England in singles and pairs in the men’s events will be Berkshire’s Rob Newman and Mark Read, from Cornwall, while Dorset’s Julie Leake and Kent’s Sandy Hazell carry England’s hopes in the women’s events.
The Wiltshire team to play Gloucestershire in the first round of the national inter-county under 25 championship at the MidGlos club in Brockworth this Sunday has been chosen, with Nick Revell and Wayne Snook in charge of the two rinks.
Wilts team manager Neil Smith has opted to play both rinks away from home, saying: “I’m not a fan of the ‘one-home, one-away’ system, and am more than happy to play both games at the same venue, and make a proper game of it.”
World Bowls Tour Co-operative Funeralcare Scottish International Open in Perth (November 3-10) – Draw for first round (seeded positions in brackets): R Paxton (England) (1) v B Markus (Israel); S Anderson (Scotland) (10) v S Glen (Scotland); A Marshall (Scotland) (13) v K Wong (Hong Kong); A E Thomson (England) (6) v R Duncan (Scotland); M Royal (England) (8) v S Halmai (Australia); J Price (Wales) (12) v K Jones (Canada); N Brett (England) (16) v J Willgress (England); D Gourlay (Scotland) (4) v D Doubler (Wales); P Foster (Scotland) (3) v W W Wood (Scotland); S Skelton (England) (9) v P Dunn (USA); J Greenslade (Wales) (14) v J Chestney (England); M King (England) (7) v J Parkinson (England); D Burnett (Scotland) (5) v B Jackson (England); J Ross (Scotland) (11) v D Stafford (South Africa); R Weale (Wales) (15) v R Chisholm (Wales); G Harlow (England) (2) v S Garvey (Australia).
World Bowls Outdoor Champion of Champions at the Athena Beach Hotel, Paphos, Cyprus – Men’s quarter-finals: H A Rais (Malaysia) bt M Kelsey (Scotland) 16-3, 8-7; S Lai (Hong Kong) bt Keith Jones (Spain) 9-5, 10-4. Semi-finals: Rais bt D Bolt (England) 10-2, 10-6; Lai bt P Hodson (New Zealand) 12-3, 7-7.
Final: Rais bt Lai 13-6, 7-5.
Women’s quarter-finals: J Rigby (Zimbabwe) bt R Prasad (Fiji) 9-8, 9-4; C Spiteri (Malta) bt M Yeung (Hong Kong) 8-5, 2-9, 3-1. Semi-finals: Rigby bt C Taylor (Wales) 10-5, 13-0; S Keith (New Zealand) bt Spiteri 11-6, 5-7, 5-0. Final: Keith bt Rigby 11-3, 10-9.
WIBC World indoor under 25 championships at Fraserburgh – Men’s singles semi-finals: Perry Martin (England) bt Martin McCalley (Scotland) 8-8, 10-5; Calum Logan (Scotland) bt Dale McCarthy (Wales) 9-8, 5-8, 2-0. Final: Martin bt Logan 9-6, 10-6. Women’s singles Semi-finals: Michelle Keenan (Scotland) bt Lesley Gordon (Scotland) 8-12, 10-8, 2-0; Amy Stanton (England) bt Kirsty Gardiner (Scotland) 9-4, 12-2. Final: Stanton bt Keenan 9-5, 11-10. Mixed pairs semi-finals: Lauren Batiste (Guernsey) & Perry Martin (England) bt Lesley Gordon & Robert Allen (Ireland) 4-3, 6-2; Sophie Rabey (Guernsey) & Calum Logan (Scotland) bt Becky Shore (Wales) & Chris Brogan (Ireland) 8-5, 10-1. Final: Batiste & Martin bt Rabey & Logan 9-4, 7-7.
EIBA inter-county championship (Liberty Trophy) – Somerset v Wiltshire at North Wilts (Chippenham) November 10, Somerset team – Rink 1: R Billington, B Smith (both Tainton Deane), M Denslow (Ilminster), A Colebrooke (Clarrie Dunbar). Rink 2: M Woods (Clevedon), M Hamilton (Ilminster), A Rendell (Watchet), R Francis (Clarrie Dunbar). Rink 3: R Williams (Street), S Hooper (Watchet), S Wiltshire, G Shadwell (Clarrie Dunbar). Rink 4: A Poolman, S Smith, J Sparkes, C Keating (all Bristol). Rink 5: C Doughty, K Bailey (both Clarrie Dunbar), N Pearce (Clevedon), T Perkins (Clarrie Dunbar). Rink 6: P Denslow (Donyatt), S Barnard, J Amery (both Taunton), P Bryant (Bristol). Reserves: P Birmingham (Bristol), J Groves (Watchet), S Withers (Clevedon).
National inter-county under25 championship Gloucestershire v Wltshire at MidGlos – Sunday, Nov 4: Wilts team – Rink 1: Jordan Moody, David Leighfield, Tom Warner, Nick Revell (all Five Rivers). Rink 2: Mike Titcombe, Tom Pittuck (both Westlecot), Max Clark, Wayne Snook (both North Wilts)
EIBA national women’s inter-club championship (Yetton Trophy) – First round (tomorrow): Gloucester v Fairford; Cotswold bye; MidGlos bye; Westlecot bye; Ilminster v Taunton Deane; Minehead v Victoria (Street); Isle of Wedmore v Taunton; St Andrew’s v Donyatt; Clarrie Dunbar v Purnell; Thornbury v Nailsea; Clevedon v North Wilts; Christie Miller v Bristol; Yeovil bye; Moonfleet 200 bye; Dorchester bye; Bridport bye; South Hams v Budleigh Salterton; Torbay v Honiton; Madeira v Torquay United; Exonia v Sidmouth; Bodmin v Plymouth Life Centre; Newquay bye; Veryan bye; Caradon bye.
Warner Leisure Hotels Wessex League – Central Region: Clarrie Dunbar bt Purnell 123-37 (16-0); North Wilts bt Weston St Andrews 94-68 (14-2). Coastal Region: Dolphin bt Bournemouth 82-71 (12-4); Five Rivers bt Bridport 88-66 (14-2); East Dorset bt Dolphin Blues 97-78 (12-4); Moonfleet bt Dorchester 86-64 (12-4); Moonfleet B bt Bournemouth Royals 90-67 (13-3). East Region: Oxford & District bt Banbury 92-77 (11-5); Carterton bt Rivermead 100-53 (16-0); Chipping Norton bt West Berks 86-78 (12-4); Westlecot bt Loddon Vale 93-71 (12-4). West Region: Plymouth bt Exonia 84-73 (14-2); Torbay bt Torquay United 92-56 (16-0).