Team World confirmed for inaugural World Bowls Challenge

by Domenic Favata

Ahead of the inaugural World Bowls Challenge to hit Australian shores from November 29-30, Team World has unveiled its star-studded line-up to take on the BCiB Australian Jackaroos in a composite, ten-a-side format at Moama Bowling Club.

Six-time Commonwealth Games gold medalist Alex Marshall MBE headlines the squad, selected by Englishman and World Bowls President, John Bell, with the Scot to be joined by a host of marquee names.

Countryman Darren Burnett, reigning world singles and champion of champions titleholder Shannon McIlroy (New Zealand), Canadian master-blaster Ryan Bester and Northern Ireland’s Gary Kelly will join Marshall in the men’s ranks, while the women’s five is led by Kiwi legend Jo Edwards MNZM, the reigning Commonwealth Games singles gold medalist, world singles champion of champions and six-time winner of the World Cup.

Joining the New Zealander is 2018 Commonwealth Games singles bronze medalist Colleen Piketh (South Africa), Canada’s Kelly McKerihen and English pairing Ellen Falkner and Katherine Rednall.

While the achievements of Falkner are known to most avid followers of the sport ( three-time Commonwealth Games gold medalist, four-time world indoor champion and a world fours gold medal to her name),  prodigiously talented starlet Rednall will be one to watch during November’s event.

At the tender age of 23, she has already struck gold in the world indoor singles championship three times, along with a mixed pairs gold with Darren Burnett in 2016 and a bronze medal at last year’s Commonwealth Games in the women’s triples.

It is expected that Australian coach Steve Glasson will announce his team following the completion of the 2019 Asia Pacific Championships in July.

Australia is unquestionably the most in-form nation on the global stage, having secured four gold, two silver and one bronze medal from eight disciplines at the most recent World Bowls Championships in 2016, in addition to five gold and two silvers from 10 disciplines at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

It is envisaged that the event will be staged every two years with each subsequent new host nation then forming the side to contest the might of the rest of the world.

Unsurprisingly, the competition format will deviate from tradition, with sets-play matches and sessions staged across two days, in order to bolster its appeal to audiences on Fox Sports Australia, with both nights to be televised by Bowls Australia’s (BA) pay-tv partner.

The event will begin with mixed triples, followed by men’s pairs, women’s pairs, then mixed pairs, and conclude with ten singles matches (five men’s singles matches and five women’s singles matches) staged across staggered starts.

Team World:

Men – Alex Marshall MBE (Scotland), Darren Burnett (Scotland), Shannon McIlroy (New Zealand), Ryan Bester (Canada), Gary Kelly (Ireland).
Women – Jo Edwards MNZM (New Zealand), Colleen Piketh (South Africa), Kelly McKerihen (Canada), Ellen Falkner (England), Katherine Rednall (England).