Alex Marshall in a class of his own with his 19th world indoor bowls pairs crown
- Credit: James Bass
Paul Foster and Alex Marshall defeated Stewart Anderson and Darren Burnett 9-7 7-8 2-1 in an epic all-Scottish final to win the Fred.Olsen Cruise Lines WBT world indoor pairs title for the third year running.
The tense victory installed Marshall as the most decorated bowler of all time, his latest triumph being his 19th world title across the indoor and outdoor games, moving him one ahead of England legend Tony Allcock and four ahead of that other bowls icon David Bryant.
'I watched both of them on TV when I was younger, and held them in such high regard,' said Marshall. 'To think that I have now won more than they have is just unbelievable. I feel humbled and extremely honoured.'
Marshall has won the world indoor singles and pairs five times apiece, the indoor mixed pairs Matchplay title twice, the world outdoor pairs three times, and the fours once, and has lifted the outdoor world team title for Scotland three times.
Marshall turned on a magical display of bowls that showed exactly why he has been so successful over the years – but he admitted he had to be at his best, because Anderson played so brilliantly at lead, and that he had been under a lot of pressure.
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End after end, the 27-year-old Anderson put both his bowls within inches of the jack, and, although Foster actually played quite well, he made his distinguished opponent look quite ordinary.
End after end, the 45-year-old Marshall found a way of turning heads his way, sometimes using finesse, with exquisite drawing to the jack, and sometimes employing force to re-arrange the bowling furniture, as it were.
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After the final, Burnett slumped in his chair, and said: 'I'm totally gutted – especially for Stewart, who could not have played better. I was disappointed to miss a few chances, but I was left with little to do – until Tattie turned things around.'
Though full of admiration for Marshall, Burnett, a 36-yearold Dundee policeman, felt that he and Anderson had done enough to win the game – and you could see his point.
Spectators vowed they had never seen a better game, and expressed their sympathy particularly for Anderson. They were delighted when the game went into a tiebreak, and were totally absorbed as a sudden death third end was required.
Anderson and Burnett looked certain winners when they won the first end of the tiebreak, and held a match lie when Marshall stepped on to the mat to deliver the last bowl of the second set – but a ruthless take-out squared matters at one-end-apiece.
On the deciding end, Marshall again drew unerringly to a jack which had been re-spotted, and Burnett's last despairing effort shuffled the pack, but left Foster and Marshall with the winning shot.