National event boasts world class field
Last week’s Super 6 series provided the perfect tune-up for the main event, the traditional Australian Sides Championships which commences in Bendigo today.
New South Wales will enter Championships as firm favourites to reclaim the Marj Morris Trophy, boasting nine past or present Australian representatives within their ranks of 12 female bowlers.
World champion Kelsey Cottrell, 22, has been handed the plum skipping role this year, alongside Jackaroos gold medal teammates Natasha Van Eldik and Karen Murphy, headlining one of the most powerful line-ups in recent memory. Former Scottish international Kay Moran, last year’s World Champion of Champions competitor Jan Agar, and former Australia A squad member Anne Johns join Cottrell, Van Eldik and Murphy in the team and are the only three members who haven’t yet held a spot in the national top high performance tier, the Australian Jackaroos squad.
Their biggest challenger comes in the form of a Queensland side intent on securing the title for the sixth time in nine years, while, Victoria also boasts obvious claims to the trophy on home soil at Bendigo.
Leading the charge for the Big V, like NSW, will be a trio of progressive Australian representatives, with the onus placed on Jackaroo young guns Carla Odgers, 22, and recent Australian Open triples champions Lisa Phillips and Samantha Shannahan, 19 and 23 respectively, in front of their home state faithful.
It is expected that Western Australia and Tasmania would rate their chances early, and will be out to cause an upset against their highly fancied opponents, with the form of Rebecca Quail, Tasmania’s only world champion, crucial to the Tigers’ hopes of success, as will be the Sandgropers’ young brigade of talent in Kristina Krstic, Rechelle Cole and Shenayde Heldt.
Remaining in contention is South Australia, with murmurs from the south that they are ready to mount a fresh attack, while the ACT and the team from the ‘Top End’ are well within the mix.
Steeped in rich heritage, bowls’ traditional battleground is a tough proposition for any state or territory but no matter what happens over the course of the week, the competition is sure to be fierce.
Featuring the top-12 men and women from each and every state and territory across the nation, the Australian Sides Championships will be played over four action-packed days from April 29 to March 2, with each player closely watched by the national selectors to assess their potential to represent Australia at the upcoming Eight Nation Commonwealth Games Invitational in August, and the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games next year.