Thursday, September 23, 2010

Mervyn King's perfect Commonwealth Games preparation

Having already packed his bags, Mervyn King - who is expecting to fly to New Delhi on Sunday - boosted his confidence for next month's Commonwealth Games by winning the Wyldecrest Park Homes Premier League Bowls in Cyprus yesterday.

King's chances of finishing top of the round robin league table were dashed yesterday morning, when he lost in straight sets, 10-6 7-4, to the defending champion Paul Foster.

But he had a second chance to take on Foster in the knockout stage, and made amends with a dramatic tie-break victory, delivering the winner with his last bowl of the deciding end to return a 6-1 0-7 1-0 scorecard.

He went on to claim a place in the final with a resounding 6-2 9-6 win over his old friend Greg Harlow, who won the world title at Potters in January.

And his final victory over five times world champion Alex Marshall was gained on a nail-biting sudden death one-end tie-break, when Marshall's last despairing effort missed its target by a 16th of an inch. To play four games in succession in searing heat was very demanding - but will no doubt stand King in good stead for his Commonwealth Games campaign, and spectators agreed that he looked the coolest of all the players.

When asked how he felt after spending four hours on the green in temperatures that soared into the high 30s, King said: “In a word, knackered.”

Once again, however, it was the Norfolk star's sheer consistency that ground down his opponents, on a tricky rink that had been newly laid, and needed running in, so that accurate bowling was difficult.

“The lines were hard to find, and you were punished heavily if you were slightly off track,” said King.

“But we all worked hard at mastering the surface, and some of the games were really good to watch.”

n Chris Ward remains in with a chance of finishing his 50th consecutive Great Yarmouth Bowls Festival with yet another title, writes Tony Dunton.

Ward (North Walsham) and playing partner Bob Denny finished top of their second phase round robin group in the Pub on the Prom-sponsored Over-60 Open pairs with three wins - 21-2, 10-4 and 14-7 - to earn a last eight meeting with Great Yarmouth pair of D Mann/R Pooley, who won two of their three games to go through on shots difference.

Today's first quarter-final sees J Jorden and B Wright (Notts) play the Bradwell pair of P Smith and P Ridler after both pairs finished undefeated at the top of their groups.

Cambridge pair B Manning and M Beeton also recorded three wins (9-8, 11-4 and 11-10) and now face Downham Market's D Kellow and P Rayner. In the last pairing I Morris and P Duke (Skegness) will play D Riches and C Boon (Wortwell / Norfolk Bowling Club).

Play starts today at 9am with the final at approximately 1pm, followed by the closing ceremony.

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