Bowls at its best on show in finals
CLUBHOUSE full, seats around the green at a premium, a top-class field, brilliant bowls - the Summerland Singles final at Ballina Cherry Street Bowling Club was the game at its best.
It had an unusual double twist. For the first time since the Summerland Series started in 1964, a woman bowler won the final to take the singles Silver Division, and the Gold went to a brilliant 15-year-old junior.
Dee Robertson (Broadbeach), one of 19 women in the open event that had 128 entries, gave a faultless display to beat another Queenslander, a more than capable Ben Walsh (Red Hill), by a hefty 21-10 margin. To make it into the final she had to eliminate the winner of the event in 2000, Ken Evans (then Bribie Island), in a semi that was 20-20 until she landed a single to put the issue beyond doubt.
Jono Davis, a 15-year-old from Dubbo, was masterful beyond his years in his win in the final against Queensland state rep Sean Ingham (Broadbeach).
Ingham won the Summerland Pairs with Helensvale partner Jayden Christie a week before and was bowling at his peak, having beaten last year's winner Kevin Higson (Wellers Hill) 21-19 in the semi.
To get into the final Davis came up against crowd favourite Scott de Jongh. Knee-high to a corner flag, de Jongh was on the verge of success with a 10-shot lead. But Davis showed his class with a fightback that won him the semi 21-19.
The final against Ingham provided the best bowls imaginable with the scores tied at 16-16 before young Davis again finished strongly to win a thriller 20-18.
Davis, recognised as the best youth lawn bowler in Australia, has had a remarkable career for one so young.
He first represented New South Wales under-18s as a 12-year-old and has been in every state junior team since. At that age he started winning Australian junior titles, by 14 years he had won back-to-back A grade singles titles at his club, and in September he returned from the Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa with two gold medals and having been crowned Champion of the Commonwealth.
Pundits predict a fine future for Davis. Australian selector Steve Glasson says he's "the cream of an increasingly strong crop of young bowlers who are rejuvenating the sport”.
Australia has 70,000 lawn bowlers aged under 18.
MY VIEW: ON THE SINGLES
MARKER'S sticks to indicate the number of shots in singles are vital to let spectators know the score.
But there were none in the Summerland quarters and semis - they were used only in the final and then the markers had only one set each. This showed the score but didn't show who had it. A coloured set for each bowler was needed.
Some markers still have to be instructed it is their job to put the score on the scoreboard when the game ends. This is often neglected.
Walking to the head is a time-wasting tactic that is increasing. It is done, often for no valid reason, and annoys spectators. If the position of bowls is required, markers are there to give information.
I can't get used to seeing bowlers of mature years outfitted in gear that either looks like it's the work of a colour-blind artist or the wearer has been digging council trenches. The Summerland umpires were resplendent in all-white. They looked much cooler.
A spectator complained to me that a bowler in the finals was playing with a cigarette in one hand, his bowl in the other.
Summerland organisers had better put a stop to smoking on the green before the health authorities start issuing fines.
LOCAL ENTRIES DISAPPOINTMENT
THE lack of women entrants from this district in the Summerland Singles (our area) clearly demonstrates how hopeless women's bowls is organised.
Women's pennants is played during the week by mostly grandmothers from my observation. Why can't they play pennants and all other events on a weekend like men?
If women and the clubs want to attract female members why don't they play on a weekend?
Some clubs like South Lismore have women playing on a Saturday, so why don't the rest?
Why is bowls not included in school sport? Some clubs in the past have done so like Alstonville and East Lismore, but what happens to the players after they leave school?
Will the district president (whoever she is) and anyone else respond to what I have just written? The regional director of education might like to respond, too.
I attended two days of the Summerland Singles and one day of the Pairs. There were plenty of juniors from elsewhere playing in both the pairs and singles.
According to the organisers, of the 19 women entered in the Summerland Series, two were from the district and four from the zone. - JB
A READER down south sent us a newspaper cutting advertising a house for sale at Lake Macquarie.
"Golf and bowels clubs nearby,” the ad says.
Is this a movement we haven't heard of before?
MARK this date in your must-do diary if you are aged over 60 and want a great day on the green - Tuesday, February 7.
That's the next bowls outing for the Northern Rivers Veterans. It's at Coraki and since these days usually have more than 100 players, it's best to get your name in early.