Ladies set to fight it out for a true world bowls title

Carol Ashby.

Carol Ashby. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2010

Future winners of the ladies matchplay title at Potters will be able to insist they are genuine world champions, rather than merely victors in a prestigious support act for the main event.

Up to and including this year, the eight women taking part in the ladies matchplay were selected by the World Bowls Tour. In the past this has brought criticism from some quarters of the criteria used for selection.

But WBT chief executive Richard Maddieson revealed yesterday that, from next year, players will have to qualify for six of the eight places with the other two being reserved for the defending champion and a wild card.

'In conjunction with Potters Leisure we're looking to launch a new thing for the coming year,' said Maddieson.

'It's a new event that ladies can qualify for, so it will become a true world championship in its own right.'

With many of the top women having impressed alongside the men in the mixed pairs world matchplay, Maddieson believes it will be only a matter of time before one of them makes an impact on the main singles competition, which, he points out, is called the world singles, not the men's singles.

'The Professional Bowlers Association is a totally open organisation,' he said. 'So there's absolutely no reason why not. We've already had one great lady player, Carol Ashby, play in the singles, and we have another this year with the South African Tracy Mayerdricks qualifying to play Mark Royal next week.'

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Another significant name participating at Potters is Steve Allen, the world champion of the rival WIBC – though the Scot is having to do it the hard way, through the qualifying round robin.

Despite their disagreement over the 'Shot Clock' innovation, Maddieson would love nothing more than to see Andy Thomson repeat his 2012 singles triumph.

'For Andy Thomson to win it last year was the fairy tale of the sport,' he said. 'There isn't a man who deserves it more. It's aways good to see one of the true greats of the sport come out on top.'

Of the lesser known names, Maddieson picks out new qualifier Pat Briscoe, who has 'been knocking on the door for years' but adds: 'You can play a lot of competitions, but when you get to Potters and are bowling in front of 1,100 people under heated lights in a massive auditorium under TV cameras it is very different.'