Scotland’s top bowlers face the world’s best teams at home next week when Kelvingrove Lawn Bowls Centre hosts the 8 Nations Commonwealth Invitation Championships (24-31 August).
Australia, Canada, England, New Zealand, Malaysia, South Africa and two teams for Scotland will all compete at the Glasgow 2014 Games venue for the event organised by Bowls Scotland in partnership with sportscotland, Glasgow 2014, Commonwealth Games Scotland, Scottish Disability Sport, Event Scotland and Glasgow Life.
For Scotland the event is an opportunity to be considered for nomination to Commonwealth Games Scotland for the Glasgow Games.
With team selection at the forefront, Bowls Scotland Head Coach, David Gourlay’s plan next week is for each player to gain maximum exposure to competition and to win as many games as they can against quality opposition.
“At this stage I’m more bothered about players playing and winning games to make the selection criteria than I am about them winning medals,” he said.
“So the focus next week is about giving the maximum number of players the opportunity to be eligible for the selection criteria and giving them games against quality opposition to see how they are performing in different events.”
‘Clyde’ and ‘Kelvin’, Scotland’s two teams at Kelvingrove, have a grand total of 24 players, including World Champions and Commonwealth Games competitors. Amongst them are four times Games player Margaret Letham and World Champion Paul Foster.
Entering two teams gives the maximum number of Scots the chance to play but the obvious downside is that the best players are spread across both.
“If we wanted to win every event we would just put in one team,” admits Gourlay. “Fielding two teams means we are spreading ourselves pretty thin.
“Australia, ranked the number one country in the world, will be bringing a squad of 10 players which will no doubt include all their superstars so we obviously need to manage people’s expectations about overall results.”
The experience of competing against many of the world’s best players at the Games venue is as important as winning matches and it is all part of the programme Gourlay has been working through this season.
So far his elite squad has met for training sessions at Kelvingrove on a twice weekly basis since May, with further individual coaching each week, which is producing a bank of useful data about the greens that increase Scotland’s home advantage for the 2014 Games.
“Our squad training sessions are as much about getting all the players used to the greens as they are about getting everybody familiar and comfortable with the venue and the surroundings,” he said.
“What we are creating is a feeling amongst our players that they are competing on their home green so they feel completely familiar with the environment. That will give us home advantage which is our challenge before this time next year.”
Entry to the 8 Nations Commonwealth Invitation Championships is free to spectators.
Scottish Teams Line Up
Paul Foster, Martyn Rice, Neil Spiers, Graeme Archer, Johnathon Ross, David Peacock
Wayne Hogg, Stewart Anderson, Robert Grant, Darren Burnett, Grant Logan, Thomas Mann, Ronnie Duncan
Caroline Brown, Michelle Cooper, Lauren Ballie, Margaret Lethem, Claire Johnston, Becky Craig
Susan Murray, Anne Dunnwoodie, Lynn Stein, Lorraine Malloy, Claire Douglas
Physically Disabled Open Triples: Gary Clelland (B6), Gary Brown (B7) and Martin Hunter.
Visually Impaired Mixed Pairs: Maria Spencer (B3) and Billy Edgar (B2).
Physically Disabled Open Triples: Billy Allan (B6), Michael Simpson (B7) and Kelvin Wallace (B7).
Visually Impaired Mixed Pairs: Irene Edgar (B2) and Robert Conway (B2)
Photo credit: Rob Eyton-Jones