Last fortnight, I covered the contentious position of dodgeball being a sport, rather than a game of fun activity. This next one may divide the ranks further – the sport of ten-pin bowling.
Rather than nipping down to my quiet bowling alley nestled inside the local amusement arcades, the prestigious QubicaAMF World Cup finished today in Wroclaw, Poland. This wasn’t an event that involved extra large cartons of Coke, outrageous throwing styles and copious amounts of neon lights. This was one of the leading events in the bowling calendar, inviting 82 different nations in the men’s calendar and a further 69 women. With a tasty prize fund and trophies to be won, it sure beats winning against your friends with a score of 101. Not that I’d know.
When it comes to the United Kingdom, bowling, like the similarly named but completely different bowls, sees competitors from all four home nations take part. Throw into the mix the islands of Jersey, Guernsey and Gibraltar and you’ve got a good chance of a Briton excelling in a game we’ve practised often as a child. Unfortunately, it happened that only one bowler from across the men and women’s category reached the semi-finals and progressed no further.
England’s Kirsten Penny consistently dominated the women’s field, playing 48 games of bowling in the qualifying round and the Top 24 stage. Penny finished up second in each of these rounds and kept up that form into the Top 8 group. Now, don’t ask me how these stages are played; the females partake in 28 opening round games, of which Penny was the only home entrant to achieve a strike average of over 200. Despite there being only 24 women in the next stage, Penny then went on to play 28 games, upping her average from 228 to 230.82. Thankfully, I’m more clear on the “quarter-finals”. The best eight bowlers go into a round-robin series of matches, taking each other on once, although it’s still the average that matters. Case in point; Sin Jane of Malaysia won six of her games, yet only achieved a final total of 8109, putting her in fifth and out of the tournament. On top of these games, a “position game” is played with the promise of bonus points.
Penny went on to reach the semi-finals, a straight-forward, best of three knock-out tournament, with her first opponent being Ng Shayna, ranked third in the Top 8. The Singapore star made light work of Penny, taking the first game 246 to 215. The Englishwoman capitulated in the second, only scoring 191 to fall out of the competition. The match may have already been lost in the second frame, with Penny leaving a massive 7-6-10 split on the first ball and only going on to remove one pin on the second. Whilst she left no pins standing afterwards, four spares can’t have helped. Ng, on the other hand, continued her fine form and won the World Cup.
Over on the men’s side, Penny’s compatriot Matt Chamberlain was the only male to reach the Top 8 stage. He reached a high of 268, a whole 21 points less than Penny and his highest round average of 219 paled in comparison to her 231. Not that they’re in competition… Unfortunately, a seventh placed finish wasn’t quite enough to mount a real challenge.
Other competitors for the UK included Steven Gill and Holly Fleming of Scotland, Wales’ Lyndon Walters and Lynne Walker, Northern Irishmen Tony O’Hare and Caroline Horan, plus islanders Nathan Jarvis, Garry Hale and Adam Shrubb, who just missed out on passing the first round with an average of 259, enough for 25th place.
Now you’ve had all sorts of numbers thrown at you, the most important stat is that countries from around the world, including the tiny territories of Reunion and New Caledonia, got together for a game of bowling. The likes of Kirsten Penny and Matt Chamberlain resemble the popular ones in your group of friends, the ones who could get close to a 200 point game without really trying. Then you have the likes of Nathan Jarvis, who resembles, well, me. Obviously he’s way better, but still. Maybe Jarvis would quite like to be known as the Scotty P of the professional world.