2019 Asia Pacific Championships: Preview

by Domenic Favata

Featuring competitors from 18 countries, the 2019 Asia Pacific Championships will showcase some of the world’s best bowlers on arguably the world’s best greens on the Gold Coast.

Australia will be eager to continue their recent gold rush in Commonwealth Games and World Championships, but with the likes of Malaysia, New Zealand and Canada among the field, it will be no easy feat.

Former captain Lynsey Clarke headlines three new inclusions named in the BCiB Australian Jackaroos team selected to don the green and gold in this year’s instalment of the event.

Clarke, 35, returns to the national fold following a 15-month international hiatus to mother and raise two children, including the birth of her second less than a year ago, while in-form New South Wales pair Ray Pearse and Aaron Teys have also been selected in the ten-player contingent.

The Trans Tasman Test Series in November 2017 was the last international outing for 328-game stalwart Clarke, with the Queenslander well-equipped to make an immediate impact in familiar surrounds, with her own Club Helensvale, Broadbeach and Musgrave Hill Bowls Clubs the three host venues for the event.

Following a standout year in 2018, which included a maiden national title in the form of the Australian Championships’ singles crown in December, Pearse has been handed the blue-ribbon singles position, while counterpart Kelsey Cottrell will return to singles duty for the first time since the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Meanwhile, rising star Teys, 25, has secured a spot as one of the main five men for the first time, having only previously represented Australia as a part of extended squads in three events.

Unsurprisingly, Australia’s golden girls, who collected the triples and fours gold medals at the 2018 Commonwealth Games have also cemented their spots, with the aforementioned Cottrell, Carla Krizanic, Rebecca Van Asch and Natasha Scott hoping for yet another fruitful international campaign.

Van Asch will steer the triples, as skip of an unchanged line-up from the 2018 Commonwealth Games, while Scott will again take command of the fours, which now features Clarke as lead, Krizanic as second and Van Asch as third.

Bolstering the men’s line-up are three proven combatants, who all claimed silver medals at last year’s Commonwealth Games, with Club Helensvale’s Aron Sherriff skipping the triples and fours, teammate Nathan Rice taking the reins of the pairs, and Melbourne’s Barrie Lester leading for Sherriff.

Looking to rain on Australia’s parade on their home soil will be a number of strong bowling nations, with many of their players having experienced the Gold Coast conditions during last year’s Commonwealth Games.

New Zealand has recalled a number of players into a re-jigged squad, with Wendy Jensen, Kirsten Edwards, Gary Lawson and Jamie Hill all returning to the national fold.

Lawson is a eight-time Asia Pacific Championships medallist, with Ali Forsyth (five) not far behind and also included in the squad.

Further boosted by familiar faces in Jo Edwards, Val Smith, Shannon McIlroy, and Broadbeach local Katelyn Inch, the Kiwis will be a strong force on the Gold Coast.

Elsewhere and the remaining 16 nations are littered with talent.

For Canada, Ryan Bester and Kelly McKerihen are well known to the sport, both former World Championship medallists.

The Malaysians are spearheaded by three-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist Siti Zalina Ahmad, having tasted success at last year’s Games on the Gold Coast with pairs partner Emma Firyana Saroji, who unfortunately was a late withdrawal for this event.

2018 Commonwealth Games bronze medallists Hadyn Evans and Ryan Dixon have been included again for Norfolk Island, with Australian-based bowler Carmen Anderson also among their ranks.

Bowls Australia will be live-streaming the event from the first set of finals, Saturday June 22, through until the second set of finals on June 28.

The 2019 Asia Pacific Championships are also a qualifying event for the 2020 World Bowls Championships, to be staged at the same venues in May/June next year.