At Bristol Indoor Bowls Club 25-29 April, 2022
This exciting and brand new event brings together the World Cup, organised by World Bowls, and the World Championships of the former World Indoor Bowls Council under one banner. It involves 64 players from 29 countries, playing in men’s singles, women’s singles and mixed pairs.
The 29 countries are (in alphabetical order):- Australia, Botswana, Canada, England, Falkland Islands, Guernsey, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Isle of Man, Israel, Jamaica, Jersey, Kenya, Malaysia, Namibia, Netherlands, Pakistan, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, USA and Wales.
Friday, 29 April
Scottish bowlers have dominated this week’s inaugural World Bowls Indoor Championships in Bristol. After providing three out of four finalists yesterday (THU) in the mixed pairs, three Scots today (FRI) secured places in the finals of the men’s and women’s singles.
The all-Scottish men’s singles final featured Blantyre’s Stewart Anderson and Elgin’s Mike Stepney, while Gloria Ha, a 20-year-old student, the lone non-Scot, who took on Teviotdale’s legendary 52-year-old Julie Forrest, looked very much at home on the Bristol carpet.
It turned out to be a Scottish double, Stepney beating Anderson, 10-5, 5-12, 1-0, and Forrest overwhelming Ha in straight sets, 9-4, 10-2.
Anderson, who was slightly below his best, still managed to delight the crowd with some inch-perfect deliveries, but it was Stepney who came up trumps, winning a thrilling final with a magnificent escape shot when Anderson was holding what seemed to be an impregnable match lie.
“That’s three times lucky for me,” said Stepney. “I reached the final of the old World Indoor Bowls Council singles twice, but lost on both occasions, so it’s great to have that under my belt. I will certainly remember that winning shot as long as I live!”
Stepney won the first set at a canter, but Anderson stepped up a gear in the second set, and deserved to set up a sudden death tiebreak. Putting his first bowl near the jack, Anderson placed his next three bowls tactically, seemingly blocking Stepney’s approach.
But a sensational bowl from Stepney found a gap, made contact with the shot bowl, and clinically dispatched it out of the count. It was the last bowl of the end, so a deflated Anderson had no right of reply.
The remarkable Forrest, who has appeared the final of the WIBC event that led up to these championships six times, winning the title four times, was odds-on favourite to beat her inexperienced opponent, but Ha showed enough to suggest she could make a mark for herself on the world stage.
Before the event got underway, Forrest hinted that, if she won it, she might call it a day. Although this was officially a new event, it had grown out of the WIBC championships, so it was, in a sense, her fifth victory – and she was always in control against her talented Hong Kong opponent.
In the men’s semi finals, Stepney, a 41-year-old joiner, swept to a comfortable 9-3, 11-1 win over South Africa’s Jason Evans, but Anderson, a prolific winner of titles, struggled to get the better of England left-hander Andy Walters, the Scot getting home on a tense tiebreak, 7-11, 5-4, 1-0.
Ha, who had toppled the favourite Alison Merrien, from Guernsey, in the quarter final, reached the final with a convincing 10-3, 10-5 win over Ireland’s Sandra Bailie, but Forrest was pushed all the way by Welsh ace Amy Williams, before emerging a 9-4, 8-7 winner.
*Stewart Anderson (Scotland) bt Andy Walters (England) 7-11, 5-4, 1-0;
Mike Stepney (Scotland) bt Jason Evans (South Africa) 9-3, 11-1.
Stepney bt Anderson 10-5. 5-12, 1-0.
Gloria Ha (Hong Kong) bt Sandra Bailie (Ireland) 10-3, 10-5;
Julie Forrest (Scotland) bt Amy Williams (Wales) 9-4, 8-7.
Forrest bt Ha 9-4, 10-2.