The world’s best bowlers are playing against the clock in Scotland and Kowloon this week, albeit in very different ways.
Reading’s Robert Newman, who failed to retain his Hong Kong International Classic title at the Kowloon Bowling Green Club on Sunday, admitted that the dreaded jet-lag had affected him so badly he had hardly had a wink of sleep since he arrived there.
Meanwhile, in Perth, where the Co-operative Funeralcare Scottish International Open got underway on Saturday, bowlers are feeling the pressure imposed on them by a new ruling brought in to speed up the game.
Once your opponent’s bowl has come to rest, the ShotClock starts ticking – and you have just 30 seconds to deliver your response or you lose the right to play.
At the time of writing, no-one had actually fallen foul of the new rule – but Welshman John Price did not look too pleased when he rushed his final delivery at the end of a tense tie-break, failed to draw the shot, and lost to Canadian Kevin Jones, who, for those with long memories, is the son of Ron Jones, who won a world pairs bronze medal for Canada in 1992.
Jones was himself a victim of a race against time, after having to re-arrange his flight to Scotland because of the storm that hit America’s east coast.
When the first round was completed on Monday, only three seeds had fallen. Price, of course, was one, the others being Commonwealth Games champion Rob Weale, who lost a topsy-turvy encounter with Rob Chisholm, and Simon Skelton, who was bundled out by Tim Stone.
In Kowloon, making up for Newman’s disappointment, Sandy Hazell, a former WIBC world indoor singles champion, from Sittingbourne, in Kent, gave English supporters something to cheer, as she powered to the women’s Classic title.
“Since I won the world title in 1992, I have virtually given up playing singles, so it came as a shock – a very pleasant one – to pick up this title.”
Hazell promptly teamed up with Dorset’s Julie Leake to bid for the Classic pairs title, while Newman was joined by Cornwall’s Mark Read for a crack at the men’s pairs, which he (Newman) won with Sam Tolchard in 2010.
This Saturday is a big day for the men of the Somerset and Wiltshire county teams, who get their Liberty Trophy campaigns underway in a much-anticipated derby clash at the North Wilts Indoor Bowls Club in Chippenham.
While home advantage clearly favours the Moonrakers, the momentum is all behind Somerset’s Green Army, who have proved their worth over the past two seasons by reaching the final of the national inter-county championship.
It is probably best to gloss over what happened in those finals – sufficient to say that Somerset were taught a salutary lesson by Norfolk and Durham respectively in 2011 and 2012.
Although Somerset field few ‘big names’, team manager Don Fowkes is delighted that England international Graham Shadwell is available for Saturday’s first fixture, before he jets off to Adelaide for the world outdoor championships later this month.
Despite losing a number of top players, including Louis Ridout, who now plays for Devon, and England outdoor internationals John Hick and Neil Kunc, Somerset have a great team spirit, which has got them out of tight spots on many occasions.
Wiltshire have been going through the doldrums in recents years, but the county’s fine display outdoors in the summer, when they reached the final of the Middleton Cup at Worthing, will have boosted their confidence.
Sadly, a number of the county’s top stars have declined to play indoors – and a few more, like Shadwell, Russell Francis and Andy Colebrooke, who play indoors for Clarrie Dunbar, are actually in the Somerset side.
Even so, Wiltshire’s new team manager Neil Smith feels his players have potential and he is looking forward to locking horns with Fowkes’s Green Army.
“I have wanted to do this job for a while, and am very excited by the challenges that lie ahead,” Smith said. “We have a good young squad, with a few highly-experienced players thrown in, so I believe we will be competitive and will give Somerset a game.
“I have to admit that Somerset are a very good team indoors – and we are probably a couple of years behind them in terms of re-building,” Smith added. “But you never know – we have nothing to lose, which could make it very exciting game to play in and watch.”
Smith’s selection policy is an interesting one, because he has gone almost entirely for club combinations, in the belief that compatibility is a vital ingredient in bowls.
Accordingly, he has named three rinks from Westlecot, and one each from North Wilts, Christie Miller and Five Rivers – with just one exception on his own rink, which comprises three Westlecot players plus Richard Hindley at lead.
Gloucestershire, who did not enter the Liberty Trophy last winter, are giving it another go, and, to the delight of county secretary Derek Severs, they have managed to capture the imagination – and support – of many of their top players.
“Our new team manager Keith Bedford has made a big effort chasing around after them, and has been well supported by Rob Griffiths,” Severs said. “I think a lot of people were upset when we didn’t field a team last year.”
Bedford’s team don’t know what to expect at Bromsgrove, where they meet Worcestershire, who are themselves going through a difficult patch, but the new-look Gloucestershire side, which is a promising blend of youth and experience, are confident they can come out on top.
The high-flying Clarrie Dunbar club achieved three wins in four days over neighbours Purnell, edging home 85-73 in the women’s Yetton Trophy on Thursday, before winning 109-45 in the Denny Cup on Saturday.
To cap it all, a mixed team completed a remarkable hat-trick, beating Purnell 115-54 in the Egham Trophy.
The North Wilts Club, in Chippenham, who entered two teams in the national women’s over-60 double rink championship were surprised when their B team defeated the A team 42-27 in the first round.
A 21-16 win for the A team rink skipped by Janet Hardie, whose health is improving after a mystery illness, was not enough to cover a 26-6 victory for the B team rink skipped by Fizz Mace.
It is up to clubs to decide how to deploy their players, and, with some clubs actually fielding four teams in this popular competition, it should be pointed out that the labels ‘A’ and ‘B’ do not necessarily translate as ‘Firsts’ and ‘Seconds’.
National women’s over-60 inter-club championship (Mason Trophy) – first rd: North Wilts B bt North Wilts A 42-27 (B names first): A Roberts-Phare, S Palfrey, K Lloyd, F Mace 26, O Tape, J Tombs, G Lillicrap, B Shepheard 6; N Rowden, V Lucas, I Button, J Collier 16, M Price, J Harris, B Bowen, J Hardie 21. Other results: Avon Valley B bt Coventry A 49-28; Welford-on-Avon bt Bromsgrove A 48-31; Rugby bt Tamworth 45-40; Gloucester bt MidGlos A 35-33; Westlecot A bt Westlecot B 40-29; MidGlos B bt Cotswold C 56-16; Cotswold D bt Cotswold B 40-38; Atherley B bt Banister Park B 42-38; East Dorset A bt East Dorset B 55-20; Bournemouth A bt Dolphin A 37-29; Dolphin B bt Banister Park A 39-35; Dorchester A bt Dorchester B 55-34; Yeovil A bt Moonfleet 2000 A 45-32; Bridport A bt Yeovil C 38-32; Bridport B bt Dorchester C 50-39; Minehead B bt Woodspring 44-29; Taunton B bt Bridgwater 50-25; Taunton Deane bt Donyatt 62-30; Wellington bt Minehead A 44-21; Purnell bt Bristol B 40-35; Clevedon bt Thornbury A 46-31; Thornbury B bt Nailsea 52-24; Torquay United B bt Torbay B 50-28; Exonia A bt Sidmouth A 56-18; Isca B bt Madeira B 41-33; Isca C bt Honiton A 47-38; Honiton B bt Torbay A 37-33; Plymouth B bt South Hams B 40-34; Newquay bt Plymouth A 43-36; Carnmoggas bt Veryan 43-26.
Co-operative Funeralcare World Bowls Tour Scottish International Open in Perth – first round: S Anderson (Scot) bt S Glen (Scot) 9-7, 8-6; J Ross (Scot) bt D Stafford (South Africa) 14-0, 10-1; D Burnett (Scot) bt B Jackson (Eng) 9-2, 8-8; A Thomson (Eng) bt R Duncan (Ire) 4-10, 10-5, 2-1; M Royal (Eng) bt S Halmai (Australia) 8-6, 5-9, 2-1; K Jones (Canada) bt J Price (Wales) 7-6, 3-7, 2-1; N Brett (Eng) bt J Willgress (Eng) 7-6, 8-3; D Gourlay (Scot) bt D Doubler (Wales) 9-5, 6-7, 2-1; T Stone (Eng) bt S Skelton (Eng) 9-3, 6-8, 2-0; J Greenslade (Wales) bt J Chestney (Eng) 7-8, 7-5, 2-1; M King (Eng) bt J Parkinson (Eng) 8-8, 9-6; R Chisholm (Wales) bt R Weale (Wales) 13-4, 1-10, 2-0; R Paxton (Eng) bt B Markus (Israel) 11-5, 12-2; P Foster (Scot) bt W Wood (Scot).
Hong Kong International Classic singles (England results) – Men first rd: R Newman bt S Siu (Indian Rec) 8-2, 4-5, 3-1; M Read lost to R Ho (HK) 6-7, 0-8. Second rd: Newman bt bt C L Fung (Club de Recreio) 6-2, 8-3. Third round: Newman bt K C Ching (Indian Rec) 11-3, 6-13, 7-0. Quarter- finals: B Lester (Australia) bt R Gogoi (India) 13-3, 10-5; C Mercado (Philippines) bt R Ho (HK) 5-10, 13-1, 2-1; I McLean (Scot) bt Newman 4-9, 9-4, 2-2, 2-0; M Baus )Australia) bt J Wong (China) 6-8, 10-3, 4-2. Semi-finals: Lester bt Mercado 8-2, 8-4; Baus bt McLean 7-11, 11-5, 2-2, 2-0. Final: Lester bt Baus 9-6, 8-9, 3-1.
Women – First round: S Hazell bt E Cormack (Kowloon) 6-6, 6-4; J Leake lost to L Pek (Craigengower CC) 3-9, 7-7. Second round: Hazell bt Y Ha (HK Youth) 12-2, 8-2. Third round: Hazell bt S Wong (Filipino Club) 3-7, 8-3, 7-1. Quarter-finals: S Bruce (Philippines) bt L Malloy (Scot) 9-6, 7-3; Hazell bt I Chow (HK) 9-1, 6-6; C Leung (HK Phoenix) bt L Pek (Craigengower CC) 10-1, 13-5; A Chan (HK Seabirds) bt A Chwang (HK) 9-2, 9-3. Semi-finals: Hazell bt Bruce 10-1, 12-3; Leung by Chan 3-8, 11-4, 2-1. Final: Hazell bt Leung 8-7, 11-5.
National men’s inter-county championship (Liberty Trophy) – Wiltshire v Somerset at North Wilts IBC (November 10) – Wilts team – Rink 1: J Moody, D Leighfield, T Warner, N Revell (all Five Rivers). Rink 2: K Embling, T Pittuck, D Snell, I Jefferies (all Westlecot). Rink 3: D Godwin, N Price, P Macdonald, A Moore (all Christie Miller). Rink 4: S Snook, J Buckland, M Clark, W Snook (all North Wilts). Rink 5: P Kistle, J Thomas, K Anderson, T Walkley (all Westlecot). Rink 6: R Hindley (Five Rivers) J Nobbs, C Cheeseley, N Smith (all Westlecot). Reserves to attend: K Hutchens, M Titcombe jnr. Non-travelling reserves: J Davis, H Bowen.
Worcestershire v Gloucestershire at Bromsgrove – Glos team – Rink 1: N Kitchen (MidGlos), M Mayhew (Cotswold), N Cansdale (Fairford), D Howes (Cotswold). Rink 2: B Coldrick (MidGlos), L Elliott (Cotswold), T Griffiths, N Holliday (both Cotswold). Rink 3: B Notman (MidGlos), J Heathcote, A Spruels, N Chandler (Cotswold). Rink 4: J Daniels, S Munro, P Nelmes, G Griffiths (all MidGlos). Rink 5: V Wilks (Gloucester), R Preece (MidGlos), M Prosser (Gloucester), K Hinder (Cotswold). Rink 6: J Gardiner (Cotswold), A Smith (MidGlos, M Cuthbert, S Knight (both Cotswold). Reserves: From the squad.
National men’s under-25 inter-county championship – second round: Gloucestershire bt Wiltshire 43-39 (Glos names first): D Sweet, F Bull, A Smith, N Kitchen 14, J Moody, D Leighfield, T Warner, N Revell 22; J Danniels, A White, B Coldrick, S Munro 29, M Titcombe, T Pittuck, M Clark, W Snook 17.
National men’s inter-club championship (Denny Cup) second rd: Bristol bt Nailsea 100-58; Clarrie Dunbar bt Purnell 109-45; Malvern Hills bt Gloucester 103-61; Cotswold bt Westlecot 96-62; Donyatt bt Watchet 96-73; Taunton bt Minehead 88-67; Yeovil bt Wellworthy 89-62; Moonfleet 2000 bt Dorchester 86-67; Torquay United bt Madeira 90-34; Mid Devon bt South Hams 82-67; Newquay bt North Devon 81-71; Plymouth bt Bodmin 79-57.
National women’s inter-club championship (Yetton Trophy), first rd: Clarrie Dunbar bt Purnell 85-73 – Rink scores (CD skips first): At Standerwick: J Dunford 21, D Dullick 13; J Hocking 32, C Shearing 10. At Paulton: W Ivory 18, C Godfrey 16; N Parfitt 14, A Chivers 34.
North Wilts bt Clevedon 77-63 – Rink scores (NW skips first), At Chippenham: J Hardie 23, M Dyer 16; F Mace 15, S Branfield 19. At Clevedon: J Collier 16, L Greeves 13; S Cooke 23, J Branfield 15. Other results: Fairford w/o, Gloucester conc; Taunton Deane bt Ilminster 95-49; Minehead w/o, Victoria (Street) conc; Taunton w/o, Isle of Wedmore conc; Weston St Andrews bt Donyatt 85-71; Thornbury bt Nailsea 119-52; Bristol bt Christie Miller 93-60; South Hams bt Budleigh Salterton 109-49; Torbay bt Honiton 96-65; Madeira bt Torquay United 87-73; Exonia bt Sidmouth 84-77.
National mixed inter-club championship (Egham Trophy) second rd: Birmingham bt Welford-on-Avon 78-70; Bromsgrove bt Avon Valley 85-71; Cotswold bt Westlecot 84-75; Moonfleet 2000 bt Dorchester 90-47; Yeovil bt Dorset Resort 100-54; Ilminster bt Weston St Andrews 102-78; Taunton Deane bt Donyatt 91-60; Clevedon bt North Wilts 87-80; Clarrie Dunbar bt Purnell 115-54; Carnmoggas bt Veryan 83-75; Plymouth bt Newquay 76-65.