International selectors left no stone unturned in their quest for success in announcing the ‘Rest of the World’ team to take on the mighty Australian Jackaroos in the forthcoming World Bowls Challenge.
A new blockbuster international bowls event – the flat green sport’s equivalent to golf’s iconic Ryder Cup – will be staged in Australia later this year.
The inaugural World Bowls Challenge, an exciting ten-a-side format will be staged from November 29-30 at the magnificent Moama Bowling Club and sees the world and Commonwealth champion Aussies up against the ‘rest’.
For the uninitiated, golf’s immensely popular Ryder Cup is a time-honoured biennial competition between teams from Europe and the USA.
‘My guys and gals will give a very good account of themselves at Moama,’ said Rest of the World team coach John Bell from England, who doubles as president of World Bowls, the sport’s global governing body.
‘It’s a very good all-round group of players who know how to get the job done.’
Team captain Alex Marshall MBE totally agreed. ‘A cracking good team – I’m really looking forward to playing with each and every one of them. Personally, I’ve always hoped to have a game alongside Jo Edwards, she’s amazing, so maybe it could materialise.’
Along with Marshall, a six-times Commonwealth Games gold medalist and six times world indoor singles champion, with a plethora of other accomplishments from his bejewelled career, are fellow Scot Darren Burnett, a gold medalist at last year’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, former Games singles gold medalist and world indoor singles champion; Shannon McIlroy from New Zealand, the reigning world singles and champion of champions titleholder; Canadian great Ryan Bester, a former world pairs champion and rated in the world’s top five over the past few years; and Gary Kelly from Ireland, who won the recent World Cup at Warilla, then doubled up as a key member of the inaugural UBC champion team at the same venue.
The women’s line-up is equally formidable, featuring New Zealand’s Jo Edwards MNZM, the reigning Commonwealth Games singles gold medalist, world singles champion of champions and a six-time World Cup winner; Colleen Piketh from South Africa, a former Commonwealth Games pairs gold medalist; Canada’s top lady Kelly McKerihen, who has featured in several podium finishes at recent world championships; English superstar Ellen Falkner, who has three Commonwealth Games gold medals, four world indoor titles and a world fours gold medal to her credit; and last but by no means least, is prodigiously talented England starlet Katherine Rednall who, at the tender age of 23, has already struck gold in the world indoor singles championship three times, plus a mixed pairs gold with Darren Burnett in 2016, while she collected bronze at last year’s Commonwealth Games in Australia in the women’s triples.
As someone remarked on the Rest of the World team composition, ‘there’s enough precious metal there to float a third world country’s national debt’.
The ‘Rest of the World’ teams are:
Men: Alex Marshall MBE (Scotland), Darren Burnett (Scotland), Shannon McIlroy (New Zealand), Ryan Bester (Canada), Gary Kelly (Ireland).
Women: Jo Edwards MNZM (New Zealand), Colleen Piketh (South Africa), Kelly McKerihen (Canada), Ellen Falkner (England), Katherine Rednall (England).