#BPL09: By the Numbers

by Aidan Davis

Article provided by Aaron Delaporte.

As the dust begins to settle on another sensational series of Bowls Premier League, we can take a closer look at some of the milestones that were reached, and even a few ‘firsts’ that unfolded over the course of the competition at Naenae, Lower Hutt in New Zealand last week.

A total of 60 matches were played with an estimated 7500 bowls delivered, probably none more vital than the last bowl of Aaron Teys, a resting toucher, which ultimately clinched a maiden title for the Asahi Illawarra Gorillas.

Remarkably Illawarra become the sixth franchise to win the title after nine BPL events, which leaves just Blundstone Melbourne Roys and the Blooms The Chemist Perth Suns as the only remaining teams not to hold the coveted trophy aloft.

Titleholders masters of the tie-break

This year’s winner, Illawarra, showed the importance of winning tie-breaks, ending the competition with a 6-1 record in that department, which included their two finals.

Remarkably no team has ever completed a 14-round series without losing a tie-break.

New Zealand still hold the record, however, for the best tie-break percentage, with a 7-1 record achieved at BPL02.

Interestingly, the Gorillas also won the title with the lowest shot-differential ever, finishing with just +12 in that department.

Undoubtedly, Illawarra played the big bowls when it mattered and won plenty of tight sets along with the tie-breaks.

Illawarra also became the first team to win the series after finishing last the previous year.

Magic Milestones

The BPL competition notched up a memorable milestone at the completion of round 12, with the 4-3, 6-2 win by New Zealand over Sydney officially recorded as the 500th BPL match.

Other major milestones in the series saw Shannon McIlroy and Aaron Wilson bring up their 100th game for their respective teams.

The pair join some illustrious names in the 100-gamer list, which already featured Ryan Bester, Michael Walker, Aron Sheriff, Karen Murphy, Jo Edwards and Jeremy Henry.

Players notching up 50 games this series included Michael Breen, Barrie Lester, Kay Moran and Aaron Teys.

This was also the first series in which there were no new players introduced to the competition, with all 24 involved having had previous experience in the competition.

Tough series for the some

In every sporting competition the winners are celebrated, but unfortunately, there has to be teams on the receiving end.

New Zealand started the series dreadfully, with six straight losses; the worst start by any team in BPL history.

However, it wasn’t the worst losing streak in history, with that unenviable record belong to Illawarra, who went 0-8 to finish BPL08.

New Zealand finally put a win on the board against the Perth Suns in round 7.

The Suns could never really get into their groove at BPL09 though, as they ran into the superstars of the sport at their finest, with their 2-12 record only marginally better than the Sydney Lions debut series of 1-9.

However, the Suns did notch up the lowest amount of sets won for a series, with just five and a drawn set.

Another team to perform below their usual lofty high standards was the Murray Steamers, who unfortunately ended their record five consecutive finals appearances at this series.

Such was the standard of play that the talent of Bester, Walker and Ellen Ryan could manage only five wins, with a dip below the 50% strike rate for the first time in their history.

The good news for all the aforementioned teams that did it tough in BPL09 is that on three occasions the team that won BPL has come from a side that missed the finals the previous series.

Marshall the master

Whilst Alex Marshall couldn’t come up with the winning bowl in the final, his MVP award moves him alongside Aron Sheriff as the only player to win both multiple MVP titles and trophies, with two apiece.

Unsurprisingly, Marshall’s record in this event is statistically the best, with his 82 appearances resulting in 57 wins at a 69.5% strike rate.

His five BPL appearances have seen his team make finals on every occasion, with two victories and two runner-up placings.

Even more staggering is that he has an overall shot-differential of +205 from those 82 matches, in comparison Aron Sheriff is +232 shots over 132 matches.

Both extremely impressive when you look at the quality of the opposition they face in every match.

What’s next?

It’s exciting times as BPL moves to celebrate its tenth anniversary at the next series.

What can Bowls Australia come up with to add even more excitement for the fans?

Personally, I would love to some stats recorded around the percentages that someone like Marshall and Sheriff produce with the draw shot or how successful Ryan Bester and Aaron Wilson are on the drive but that requires a lot of recording over the course of a series.

Maybe we could just settle for a BPL tipping comp – trying to win that would be tougher than out drawing Aaron Teys in a tie-break.