Treat for Potters crowd as Norfolk’s Mervyn King edges home in thriller at World Indoor Bowls Championships
PUBLISHED: 14:57 22 January 2014 | UPDATED: 14:57 22 January 2014
It may have played second fiddle to the mixed pairs final, but the ‘open’ singles match in which Norfolk’s own Mervyn King edged home, 6-7, 7-5, 2-1, against the Scottish International Open champion Nicky Brett, from the City of Ely, was hailed as the best game of the Just Retirement World Indoor Bowls Championships so far.
Thomas and Foster retain mixed trophy
Laura Thomas, a 28-year-old accountant from Wales, and Paul Foster, a taxi proprietor from Troon in Scotland, combined well to retain the Just Retirement WBT world indoor mixed pairs Matchplay title.
In the final, the Celtic duo defeated England duo Katherine Rednall, an 18-year-old student from Baylham, near Ipswich, and 58-year-old Andy Thomson, who was born in Scotland, but is England’s long-standing team captain.
“It’s always special winning anything for the first time, but it’s great to think we have done it again,” said Foster. “Just like last year, Laura was absolutely brilliant, especially in the final, but the battle between her and Katherine was first class.”
Although Thomas and Foster eventually returned an impressive-looking 10-8, 11-3 scorecard, the turning point did not occur until the ninth end of the first set, when the scores were level at 6-6. The defending champions picked up three shots to lead, 9-6, with two ends still to play, but Rednall and Thomson stayed in the hunt with a double, before Thomas and Foster sealed victory with a single on the 11th end.
By the fifth end of the second set, Thomas and Foster had opened up a 6-0 lead, which was only threatened when Rednall and Thomson scored a double and a single to get within striking distance at 6-3 – but two ends later, it was all over.
“Playing alongside Andy has been a valuable experience for me,” said Rednall, “I was nervous at first, and didn’t know where to stand in order not to block the camera angles, but I feel much more confident now that I have had a few games on the rink.”
The Suffolk star will need to be confident today when she takes on former world champion Alison Merrien for a place in the final of the women’s Matchplay singles – a match that follows the intriguing clash between Stewart Anderson, the holder of the ‘Open’ title, and the reigning Commonwealth Games champion Robert Weale.
Both players went through their wide repertoire of shots, drawing to the proverbial sixpence, but attacking when in trouble – and the outcome was in doubt right up until Brett’s final delivery fell agonisingly short, and gave King his place in the quarter finals.
The win, of course, went down well with the Potters crowd, to whom Mervyn King is a very special local hero, but they appreciated Brett’s skill, too, and gave the talented duo a standing ovation at the end of a classic encounter.
“Not bad for an old boy,” said the 48-year-old King, in his familiar Norfolk drawl. “Can I go all the way this year? – Well, I’m in the last eight now, which means I must stand a chance.”
Reflecting the amateur nature of the sport, King will be back at work tomorrow at an estate on the north Norfolk coast. “We’ve got some tree-felling to be done, but I won’t be doing any of that before the quarter finals on Friday,” he assured his fans.
“I was slow to start, and was 5-1 down after six ends, but I got my game together, and thought I played really well,” King said.
“Nicky and I play together in the England side, and we know each other quite well, so it was a very enjoyable game to play.”
At the end of that first set, King scored a double and a treble, to take the lead at 6-5, and opened the last end with a back-toucher that looked good enough to give him the set.
Brett escaped brilliantly to hold the shot, and added the winner with a delicate draw with his last bowl, so King had his work cut out to level the scores by winning the second set.
It was cut-and-thrust throughout that set, with King, famed as a specialist drawing player, using force more often than usual, and it was a superb drive that took the jack through to the back of the rink that save the match, and win the set.
Brett won the first end of the tiebreak, King the second, and, on a tense sudden death third end, King drew an inch-perfect toucher that remained in pole position until Brett ditched the jack with a ruthless strike.
With room to draw, King finished close to the ditch, and Brett’s last bowl ran out of petrol before it had completed its journey down the rink.
The morning game between world number three Rob Paxton, from Taunton, and Welsh wizard Jason Greenslade, the number 11 seed, was also a cracker, with Paxton drawing consistently, and Greenslade on target with most of his strikes.
Paxton won the first set, 8-6, but Greenslade looked on course to take him to a tiebreak when he stated the second set with two trebles – but Paxton steadied the ship, and managed to tie the set at 7-7, and earned his place in the last eight.
Standing between Paxton and a place in the semi finals is the winner of tomorrow’s second round match between veterans Andy Thomson, 58, and John Price, who is 53, while King faces Jonathan Ross who beat Les Gillett 7-6, 8-4 in last night’s match.
Mixed pairs final: Laura Thomas (Wales) & Paul Foster (Scotland) bt Katherine Rednall & Andy Thomson (England) 10-8, 11-3.
Singles: Robert Paxton (England) bt Jason Greenslade (Wales) 8-6, 7-7; Mervyn King (England) bt Nick Brett (England) 6-7, 7-5, 2-1; Jonathan Ross (Scotland) bt Les Gillett (England) 7-6, 8-4.
Just Retirement WBT World Indoor Bowls Championships:
10am – Women’s singles semi final – Rebecca Field (Eng) v Julie Forrest (Scot).
1pm – ‘Open’ singles – 2nd round – Stewart Anderson (Scot) v Robert Weale (Wales).
2.30pm (approx) – Women’s singles semi-final – Katherine Rednall (Eng) v Ali Merrien (Guernsey).
7.30pm – Greg Harlow (Eng) v Darren Burnett (Scot).