Commentator is aiming to make his mark on World Indoor Bowls Championships rink at Potters

16:59 08 January 2016

Greg Harlow showing children from Hopton Primary School the ropes yesterday. Picture: JAMES BASS

Greg Harlow showing children from Hopton Primary School the ropes yesterday. Picture: JAMES BASS

Archant Norfolk © 2016

The Greatest Bowls Tournament in the World, shrieks the poster outside the International Arena at Potters Resort in Hopton-on-Sea – and no-one is arguing.

Although the Just Retirement World Indoor Bowls Championships officially get under way today, the five-star Norfolk resort was awash with players and spectators yesterday, when competitors from all over the world launched their bids for places in the main field.

Pairs from Israel, Australia, Hong Kong, USA and Canada were joined by Irish duo Chris Eadie and David Corkill, knowing that only one pair will survive to challenge Anglo-Scottish duo Les Gillett and Jonathan Ross in tonight’s first round proper.

Meanwhile five hopefuls from Canada, USA, Hong Kong, Israel and Jersey are doing battle for a place in the 32-man field for the singles, in which a massive £55,000 cheque will be handed to the eventual winner on Sunday, January 24.

David Corkill, who skipped his Irish team-mate Chris Eadie to a fascinating tie with Hong Kong’s Ken Chan and Robin Chok yesterday, is a man of many parts.

Not only is he the chairman of the Professional Bowls Association, which created and drives the World Bowls Tour, but he is the BBC’s principal commentator and he will be occupying his usual seat in the commentary box when the cameras arrive at the end of next week.

What will happen if he and Eadie manage to get through to the sharp end of proceedings is something to which no-one knows the answer, but it would certainly be entertaining to see him attempt to provide a running commentary from the rink.

“We have worked it out, and know that we need to beat Beverley Polatinski and Boaz Markus in straight sets, and by six clear shots if we are to reach the final of the so-called ‘overseas’ play-offs,” Corkill ventured last night.

Today’s encounter with the Israelis, scheduled for 11.30am in the Bowlers’ Bar, should be worth watching, as ‘Corky’ rolls the years back and tries to recapture the form he showed when he won ITV’s Granada Superbowl in the 1980’s.

In the singles round robin, Shalom Ben Ami, a 59-year-old former ten-pin bowler from Ra’anana, who once won a gold medal at the Maccabi Games, played three matches yesterday, winning one, losing one, and tying the third. Well over six feet tall, the Israeli’s encounter with Hong Kong’s diminutive Queenie Lai looked a mis-match, but, after Ben Ami had won, 6-5, 8-6, Lai picked herself up and played brilliantly to beat Mike Bester, from Canada, 5-3, 5-4.

Neil Furman, from the USA, started as one of the favourites to make it through to the main event, but lost a set to Ben Ami, and will find Jersey’s Scots-born Scott Baxter a tough opponent in the last match.

Pairs play-offs (round robin): Scott Walker & Glen Pauling (Australia) bt Chris & Mike Bester (Canada) 6-6, 10-4; Robin Chok & Ken Chan (Hong Kong) bt Bev Polatinski & Boaz Markus (Israel) 7-3, 8-3; Chok & Chan t/w Chris Eadie & David Corkill (Ireland) 8-6, 9-3. Walker & Pauling t/w Mary Ann Beath & Neil Furman (USA) 4-6, 9-3. Singles play-offs: Neil Furman (USA) bt Mike Bester (Canada) 9-5, 8-7; Shalom Ben Ami (Israel) bt Queenie Lai (Hong Kong) 6-5, 8-6; Scott Baxter (Jersey) bt Ben Ami 7-5, 7-1; Lai bt Bester 5-3, 5-4; Furman t/w Ben Ami 5-6, 14-1.


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