A star was born in Bristol on Saturday when Jack Groves, an exciting 14-year-old prospect from Watchet, was called up to make his Liberty Trophy debut for Somerset.
And, after making history as the youngest player to turn out for the county at this level, Groves displayed a maturity beyond his years to help Somerset to a 119-96 victory over Worcestershire.
“Jack’s performance was the highlight for me,” said team manager Don Fowkes. “He never seemed fazed and I lost count of the number of ‘touchers’ he achieved.”
Fowkes reported Somerset were always in control, saying: “At times, it was too close for comfort, but every time they threatened to close the gap, our Green Army moved up a gear. For the last four ends across the green, the result was never in doubt.”
Clarrie duo Russell Francis and Terry Perkins won by 11 and nine shots respectively, and Bristol’s Chris Keating skipped his rink to a win by eight shots, while Paul Bryant’s quartet tied, and the rinks skipped by Andy Colebrooke and Steve Wiltshire played it tight, losing by only five shots between them.
Somerset, runners-up for the past two years, duly reached the quarter-finals again, and, in January, will meet Essex for the third year on the trot.
With just two rounds of a gruelling eleven-match round robin programme still left to play in the world outdoor championships in Adelaide, England looked likely to grab places in the knockout stage of the men’s singles and fours and women’s pairs and triples.
Trowbridge ace Graham Shadwell helped the England quartet to stave off defeat for the first seven matches, but, with Mark Bantock at lead and Robert Newman and Stuart Airey at the back-end, they lost for the first time to Ireland.
In the singles, Devon’s Jamie Chestney has recovered from a slow start, in which he lost three of his first four matches, and is now back in the mix for the knockout stage.
Wendy King and Ellen Falkner should qualify in the pairs, while Jamie-Lea Winch, Natalie Melmore and Sian Gordon, despite losing twice on Monday, are looking confident in the triples.
The happiest-looking person in Adelaide is Yeovil’s Edna Bessell, who is managing the English women’s team.
Bessell, who is fighting cancer for the second time, recently finished a course of chemotherapy, but was determined to take up her role in Australia, and says she is feeling well and is relishing the challenge.
It was extremely disappointing to learn that not one player from Somerset, Gloucestershire or Wiltshire has been selected to represent England in the full international series in Stanley next March.
Somerset’s claims have been smiled upon at under-25 level, but it is Devon who have been favoured for the seniors, with no fewer than five men and one woman being invited to join the national squad.
Graham Shadwell, currently in Australia, was not available to play for England this winter, while Louis Ridout, who lives in Ilminster, now counts as a Devonian indoors, and Amy Stanton, who learnt her bowls in Wellington, now plays out of Worcestershire.
Westlecot father-and daughter duo Neil and Lucy Smith made a double-barrelled attack on the Warner Leisure Hotels national Champion of Champions title last weekend, when they both appeared in the Area finals.
Lucy, who is only 17, put up a good fight before losing to experienced Gloucester star Gill Fry, who scored the last 11 shots to win 21-13, but Neil performed a great escape to beat Malvern Hills youngster Ryan Atkins 21-19, after trailing throughout.
Neil went on to beat Rugby’s Craig Carter 21-9 to claim his place in the final stages, which will be staged at Warner’s Lakeside Resort, Hayling Island, in February.
Clarrie Dunbar and Taunton have clinched places in the last 32 in the national inter-club championship by beating Bristol and Donyatt respectively, but the region’s other hopes, Yeovil put up stern resistance but were pipped by Moonfleet 2000.
Clarrie’s win over Bristol was 85-69, but Bristol gained revenge the very next day by beating Clarrie 77-73 on the same two-rinks-home, two-rinks-away basis, in the Warner Leisure Hotels Wessex League.
On Sunday, Clarrie defeated Clevedon to claim a place in the last 32 of the national mixed club championship, winning on three of the four rinks. Andy Colebrooke and Russell Francis won by six and nine shots respectively at home for Clarrie, while Clevedon’s outdoor international John Hick evened things up when he skipped his rink to a 27-12 win at Clevedon.
It was left to Keith Bailey’s away rink to tip the scales Clarrie’s way at the top of Chapel Hill, winning 22-14 to post a 78-70 overall victory and set up a clash with Ilminster, who beat Taunton Deane 78-74.
Sue Trott, who a short while ago was president of the Devon County Women’s Bowling Association and is also secretary to the Somerset Women’s County Indoor Bowling Association, found herself in an awkward spot last week.
Hosting Devon’s indoor team at Taunton Deane, Trott was faced with so many players she calls colleagues in the outdoor game, but she shrugs off any suggestion that she might have divided loyalties.
“I live in Corfe, near Taunton, and am proud to be secretary to the SWCIBA,” she explained. “Playing from different counties indoor and out has many advantages, as you meet so many more people and you are able to mix well too!”
As for the match itself, it proved to be a triumph for the star-studded visitors, who won on five of the six rinks 141-102.
Somerset’s only winning card was returned by Clevedon veteran Margaret Dyer, who beat Val Landers’s quartet 19-17.
“It was a good scrap,” said Trott. “We – that is Somerset – held them until the last few ends, but they – that is Devon – finished strongly, and deserved their victory.”
Delegates representing 35 counties voted at the Bowls England EGM on Saturday by 63 to 17 to support the board’s recommendation that all national championships, international trials and international events be hosted at Royal Leamington Spa from 2014.
RESULTS / SQUADS
EIBA national men’s inter-county championship (Liberty Trophy) – Second round at Bristol: Somerset bt Worcestershire 119-96 – Rink scores (Som skips first): T Perkins 22, S Cracknell 13; A Colebrooke 13, G Burbridge 14; C Keating 28, N Brereton 20; S Wiltshire 15, R Atkins 19; R Francis 24, S Jones 13; P Bryant 17, L Whitehouse 17. Other results: Essex bt Berkshire 116-62; Surrey bt Bucks 110-109; Devon bt Dorset 139-91; Cambs v Suffolk 128-81; Cumbria bt Yorks 128-99; Norfolk bt Warks 134-99; Durham bt Lancs 150-73.
World Outdoor Bowls Championships in Adelaide (England results – first nine rounds) – Men’s singles (Pool 2): Jamie Chestney lost to P Foster (Sco) 14-21; lost to S McIlroy (NZ) 15-21; bt A Rodmanee (Thailand) 21-14; lost to K Hasebe (Japan) 17-21; bt Z Hadar (Israel) 21-10; bt R Chok (Hong Kong) 21-9; bt S Nelson (USA) 21-11; bt N Cole (Spain) 21-11; bt O Motladiile (Botswana) 21-2. Men’s fours (Pool 1): Mark Bantock, Graham Shadwell, Robert Newman, Stuart Airey bt NZ 18-12; t/w Malaysia 19-19; bt Zimbabwe 15-11; bt Israel 24-6; bt Thailand 30-4; bt China 22-12; t/w Namibia 17-17; lost to Ireland 11-18; bt Brunei 22-13. Women’s pairs (Pool 2): Wendy King & Ellen Falkner bt Ire 24-7; bt Malaysia 21-7; bt Wales 20-10; bt Cyprus 16-11; bt China 20-18; bt Brunei 24-12; bt Botswana 30-18; bt Jersey 18-9; lost to Spain 12-13. Women’s triples (Pool 2): Jamie-Lea Winch, Natalie Melmore, Sian Gordon bt Ire 26-6; bt Holland 24-10; bt Australia 16-11; bt Norfolk Is 24-9; bt USA 21-7; lost to Malaysia 12-14; lost to New Zealand 5-22; bt Brunei 26-5; bt Thailand 18-13.
World Bowls Tour Co-operative Funeralcare UK Maters Tourcard at Cynon Valley – Quarter-finals: L Bouse (Islwyn) bt J Breen (Rhondda) 3-5, 12-0, 2-1; A Bryden (Hebburn) bt R Owen (Cynon Valley) 6-5, 5-7, 2-1; S Jones (Leominster) bt J Lewis (Cynon Valley) 6-3, 6-7, 2-0; D Gough (Severn Valley) bt G Fountain (Dolphin) 7-5, 8-5. Semi-finals: Bouse bt Bryden 7-5, 7-6; Gough bt Jones 8-3, 8-4. Final: Gough bt Bouse 6-2, 3-8, 2-1.
England team for men’s indoor international series at Stanley – Rink 1: J Parkinson (Cumbria), * J Walker (Wellingborough), S Tolchard (Torquay United), A E Thomson (Cyphers). Rink 2: L Ridout (Torquay United), * P Martin (Swale), R Paxton (Exonia), G Harlow (City of Ely). Rink 3: P Coleman (Wey Valley), * P Hartley (Hartlepool), I Bond (Exonia), B Morley (Nottingham). Rink 4: * M Spence (Spalding), B Jackson (Lincoln), M King (Gallow), N Brett (City of Ely). Rink 5: M Dawes (Blackpool NH), N McKee (Kingsthorpe), S Farish (Cumbria), J Chestney (Torquay United). Rink 6: B Arkley (Stanley), G Skipp (Hartlepool), + D Bolt (Stanley), + G R Smith (Stanley). Reserves: D Hubbard (Adur), M Marsden (City of Ely), C Moore (Barwell). Team manager: T Horobin (Featherstone). * denotes new cap; + denotes recall.
England team for women’s indoor international series in Stanley – Rink 1: L Tunn (Colchester), J Leake (Bournemouth), S Seymour (City of Ely), W King (Swale). Rink 2: S Mart (Nottingham), P Cutts (Nottingham), C Popple (City of Ely), P Strong (Lincoln). Rink 3: * Z Eagles (York), J Baker (South Forest), K Hampton (Egham), S Hazell (capt) (Swale). Rink 4: * S Tolchard (Torquay United), A Stanton (Malvern Hills), M Barlow (Riverain), + S Gordon (Desborough, M). Rink 5: * L Copeland (Hartlepool), A Bellamy (Spalding), K Jones (Desborough, M), E Falkner (City of Ely). Rink 6: R Field (Norfolk), C Baker (Diss), + H Tuohy (Egham), D Stavrou (Desborough, M). Reserves: J Gower (Cumbria), A Hallett (Dorchester). Team manager: E Bessell (Yeovil). * denotes new cap; + denotes recall.
EIBA national women’s indoor club championship (Vivienne Trophy) – Third round: MidGlos bt Nailsea 80-68; Torbay w/o, Taunton Deane scr; Dorchester bt Moonfleet 2000 73-69; Arun bt Atherley 107-55; Wealden bt Grattons 110-57; Camberley bt Sutton 80-69; Dartford Stone Lodge bt Bromley 104-57; Ashford bt Folkestone 84-70; York bt Charnwood 90-64; Riverain bt Bedford Borough 98-67; St Neots bt Cambridge Chesterton 81-68; Norfolk bt Pinewood Park 83-62; Beccles bt Acle 76-66; Essex County bt Ipswich 83-65; Havering bt Tye Green 75-67; Desborough (M) bt West Berks 88-64.
EIBA mixed inter-club championship (Egham Trophy) – Third round: West Denton bt Park View 86-35; Cumbria bt Eden 109-47; Hartlepool bt Redcar 83-67; York bt Leeds 124-41; New Earswick bt Selby 83-71; Boston bt Lincoln 85-71; South Forest bt Nottingham 74-61; Barwell bt Charnwood 87-60; Bromsgrove bt Birmingham 85-64; Carterton bt Cotswold 75-66; Kingsthorpe bt Northampton 78-69; City of Ely bt St Neots 90-66; Norfolk bt Roundwood 110-45; County Arts bt Acle 83-79; Desborough (M) bt Whiteknights 86-40; Bedford Borough bt Harpenden 78-60; Colchester bt Mid Suffolk 90-60; Essex County bt Falcon 76-75; Barking bt Havering 90-73; Herga bt Cambridge Park 108-61; Crystal Palace bt Sutton 84-76; Egham bt Wey Valley 80-66; White Oak bt Dartford Stone Lodge 88-76; Folkestone bt Swale 91-72; Adur bt Egerton Park 87-58; Victory bt Worthing 92-51; Bournemouth bt Atherley 86-69; Moonfleet 2000 bt Yeovil 75-72; Ilminster bt Taunton Deane 78-74; Clarrie Dunbar bt Clevedon 78-70; Plymouth bt Carnmoggas 77-66.