IT’S been billed as the most electrifying flat green encounter since 1588 when dashing British sea captain and adventurer Francis Drake insisted on finishing his match on Plymouth Hoe before sailing out to engage the fast-approaching Spanish Armada off the English coastline.
The inaugural World Bowls Challenge between Australia’s all-conquering Jackaroos and a hand-picked ‘Rest of the World’ side is the newest international bowls ‘major’ – based on golf’s iconic Ryder Cup – and will roar into our lives tomorrow (28 Nov).
An exciting ten-a-side format, it will be staged over two days 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.
‘Our guys and gals will give a very good account of themselves,’ said Rest of the World team captain Alex Marshall from Scotland. ‘It’s a cracking good team – I’m really looking forward to playing with each and every one of them.
‘We accept that the Aussies have chalked up some impressive results lately, but I can assure you we haven’t travelled all this distance to be cannon fodder for the Jackaroos.’
Substituting for World Bowls president John Bell, who was unable to attend because of illness, Rest of the World coach Gary Smith, the chief executive of World Bowls, and a former international champion in his own right, added: ‘I’m proud to be coaching this amazing group, this is bowls at its dizziest heights – spectators here in the stadium and viewers at home are in for a real treat.’
The challenge will be telecast live on Fox Sports Australia, Kayo Sports and Sky Sport NZ from 5pm -10pm (Melbourne time) on Friday, then from 12.30pm – 5.30pm (Melbourne time) on Saturday.
The star-studded world team consists: Men: Ryan Bester (Canada), Darren Burnett (Scotland), Gary Kelly (Ireland), Alex Marshall (Scotland) and Shannon McIlroy (New Zealand). Women: Jo Edwards (New Zealand), Ellen Falkner (England), Kelly McKerihen (Canada), Colleen Piketh (South Africa) and Katherine Rednall (England). All are international superstars in any company.
Action will begin with mixed triples, followed by men’s pairs, women’s pairs, then mixed pairs, and conclude with ten singles matches (five men’s and five women’s) staged across staggered starts.
The Jackaroos, coached by legendary Aussie Steve Glasson and coming off two weeks of sustained success on Australia’s Gold Coast, comprises: Men: Barrie Lester (Qld), Aron Sherriff (Qld), Aaron Teys (NSW), Corey Wedlock (NSW) and Aaron Wilson (NSW). Women: Kelsey Cottrell (Qld), Karen Murphy (NSW), Ellen Ryan (NSW), Natasha Scott (NSW) and Bec Van Asch (Tas).
Photo: Back row: Darren Burnett, Shannon McIlroy, Jo Edwards, Ryan Bester, Gary Kelly. Seated: Kelly McKerihen, Katherine Rednall, Alex Marshall, Gary Smith, Ellen Falkner, Colleen Piketh.