Mervyn King crashes out of pairs at World Indoor Bowls at Hopton-on-Sea
The unthinkable happened as local hero Mervyn King and his new partner Simon Skelton, from Nottingham, were unceremoniously bundled out of the Fred Olsen Cruise Lines World Indoor Pairs championship at Potters Leisure Resort in Hopton-on-Sea.
After Welsh duo Daniel Salmon and Neil Collett had posted an 8-3, 8-6 straight sets victory, King and Skelton were left scratching their heads as they tried to explain what had happened.
'The pace of the green changed incredibly after the trial ends,' ventured King. 'It was flying when we started, but it became quite slow, and that affected the lines to the jack as well.'
The Gallow star, who won the world indoor singles title in 2006, added: 'But, when all's said and done, it's often like that, so it should not have come as a big surprise.
'I hadn't had a chance to practise a lot this week – but the rink is always so changeable that I can't use that as an excuse.
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'To be honest, I was disappointed with my form in the first set, but played a lot better in the second.'
King believes a lot of players will struggle this year, because, in his opinion, it is more difficult than usual to find the centre of the rink, but he is still optimistic about his own prospects for the singles.
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'Next week, and the event will be properly underway,' he said.
'Tonight it felt strange – as if we had to warm up the rink for when it really got going.
'And the singles is different, because you have four bowls, which gives you more chance to settle,' added King, who faces Scottish Tour card holder Wayne Hogg in the first round on Tuesday.
Daniel Salmon, the Welsh lead, a left-hander, who is only 17, had the edge over King in the first set, but it was Collett, a 40-year-old senior policy advisor at Companies House, who made the difference in the second.
Collett played some crucial attacking bowls, and pulled off an inch-perfect draw on the penultimate end, just when the England pair look poised to get back into contention.
Suffering from a bad back, Collett understandably played his game with care and concentration, and clearly enjoyed his return to the portable rink after an absence of several years.
Australia's Karen Murphy and Ben Twist qualified for the main draw, beating Irish qualifiers Roy Battersby and John McCullough, 9-4, 5-11, 2-1.