Selection criteria could end fours

REPRESENTATIVE bowls is at a crossroad, says RNSWBA chief exec Greg Helm.

Helm, who has brought a young energy to State bowls administration in the short time he has been in the hot seat, is refreshingly outspoken in his view of national selection moves by Bowls Australia and its ‘HP’ team (high performance, not hire purchase).

For half a century, the Australian Sides Championship with its trophy the Alley Shield has been the criterion for selecting the Australian squad. Sides from every State line up their best players before the selectors who, after the contest has finished, historically name the Australian reps.

Now Bowls Australia and the HP lot want something different. They say they need to see players competing not in the Sides Championship’s fours format, but in the singles, pairs and triples currently in vogue in international events.

Will somebody tell me why Australian selectors can no longer watch the best players from all around Australia in their States’ fours teams, and pick from all that ability on display those who will competently fill any position in an international contest? If the selectors can’t do that, they should switch their attention to tiddlywinks.

Is it a move to get rid of fours altogether? No longer is the fours format played at national championship level (probably too many on the green for television coverage) – it has been axed in favour of triples, once the Cinderella of bowls formats. If this national attitude spreads to State level, we could be saying goodbye to pennants as a fours comp.

Helm, who identifies himself as a traditionalist, promises that when NSW hosts the Australian Sides Championship in 2011, it will be given ‘the prestige and honour it deserves’.

“I sincerely hope that players and administrators alike will continue to see the Australian Sides Championship as the pinnacle of the sport in this country,” Helm says.

Officialdom changes too much, mostly just for the sake of change. Now it’s national selection.

The list of top bowlers who refuse to represent their country is long. It would be far better for Bowls Australia to rectify the reasons for this than to meddle in the way selectors go about their job.

Captive audience

A LISMORE bowler with a couple of juniors following in his footsteps, asks – and not for the first time – why he has to pay for so many State bowls magazines that come into his house.

“I’m forced to buy the magazine, but our family needs only one,” he says.

“We should buy the magazine only if we want to, not because we have no choice.”

He’s got me on side in this one. Publishers would just love to have a captive readership such as our State magazine has. Then, with a ready-made circulation whether the magazine was good or bad, they wouldn’t have to worry about the quality of content.

Queensland bowlers don’t have the price of their State magazine included in their capitation fee as we do in NSW. Up there, it survives on quality of product – and a top product it is, with further revamping currently under way.

If Bowls NSW went on the open-sale market, we’d soon see whether those circulation figures the RNSWBA skites about represent genuine readership.

Dates to remember

NRDBA pennants next season will start on March 6 and finish on May 22, with May 29 set aside for use if needed.

Saturday, February 20, is reserved for pennant trials.

The district singles championship will run from February 6-21 and will be played at Lismore Workers Heights, Evans Head, South Lismore and Alstonville.

Other district championships – Pairs (February 21-28, March 7) at Lennox Head, East Lismore, Ballina RSL, Casino RSM. Triples (March 14-28) at Lismore City, Alstonville. Fours (March 28, April 11-18) at Ballina, East Lismore.

The champion of champions in singles and pairs will run from August 14-29. The triples and fours are September 18, 25, October 9-17. Junior singles, pairs, and fours are at Evans Head from January 16 – 24. The zone play-offs are March 7, 14, 21. Zone championships – Singles, July 4. Pairs, July 11, Triples, July 25, Fours, August 8.

The Compass Shield will be played on Clarence greens on May 25. The Johnson-Dignan Shield will be in the NRDBA area on June 27.

WHO’S the fastest bowls driver around? A few years back, Rob Parrella would have his hand up, but now it’s a Canadian who has won a poll of Bowls Australia’s on-line readers.

Ryan Bester, who for the past few years has been scorching the turf at Cabramatta, received 54 per cent of the votes cast.

The 24-year-old was given the nod ahead of Kelvin Kerkow (23 per cent), Mark Casey (11 per cent), Leif Selby (7 per cent) and Gary Lawson (5per cent).

When we speak of drivers, it’s the stoics off the green who shouldn’t be forgotten. I remember a hot driver shooting the jack off the green – it hit Wormy on the knee as he was coming out of the clubhouse with a trayful of frothy stuff. Smashed his knee, but he didn’t spill a drop.

AN ancient pic that appeared in the State magazine in October is ‘identified’ in the current issue as being the greens and clubhouse of an early Lismore City.

“Although there are a few minor differences (such as the fence), these may have occurred over time with extensions to the club,” says the article.

Comments Lismore City stalwart Nev Pond: “For this to be Lismore City, apart from the ‘few minor differences’ somebody must have moved the river. And we’ve always wanted a tiled roof like the one in the picture – our tin roof hasn’t stood up too well to the storms. If this is Lismore City, I’ll take to the crème de menthe.”

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