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Bowls In Focus : February 2010
Bowls In Focus 23 ton Bowling & Sporting Club in Melbourne. What a shame the 58-year-old Australian qualifier didn't play more of them at Potters Leisure Resort last month, when he competed on the famous blue portable rink in the World Indoor Singles Championship. I'm only joking, Geoff! - You did Victoria and Australia proud, even if you found that Robert Paxton, a former postman from Exeter in Eng- land, produced too many first class deliveries in your first round encounter. Geoff and his wife Jackie had booked a trip to Thailand before he qualified for the World Bowls Tour event, so they simply adjusted their itinerary to include the frozen east coast of England alongside their stay in Phuket. Phuket? - No doubt Geoff was tempted to mutter something similar when Paxton - who now lives in Perth WA, where he plays profes- sionally for the Mosman Park club - won the first set. In fact, Geoff started off like a bomb, piling his bowls around the jack - and the man they call the 'Maestro' had 31-year-old Paxton, who reached the semi finals in 2006, visibly worried. "I wondered what was in store," said Pax- ton. "He was bowling like a man possessed for the first couple of ends, and I had to work hard togetintothegame-butwhenIdid,Iwonthe first set quite comfortably." "However," he added, "When Geoff came on song in the second set, he showed what a fine bowler he is, and he made life difficult for me before I got over the line, 10-3, 7-5." Leaving the bowls aside, let's take a look at how this trip-of-a-lifetime panned out for Geoff and Jackie... "It was wonderful," said Jackie. "It had everything, from a Phuket beach holiday in temperatures approaching 40-degrees, to the snow and ice of East Anglia, where the Potters Leisure Resort is an amazing oasis in the otherwise god-forsaken coastal village of Hopton-on-Sea. "We even managed to fit in a magical trip to Paris, where the snow was on the ground, making an already romantic place even more beautiful." "Last year, I won the Deniliquin Pairs with Graeme Spencer, and decided to spend the winnings on a trip to Thailand," says Geoff. "That was before I qualified for the WBT world singles. "Believe it or not, I have learnt so much, not only about bowls but about myself, from my time at Potters," said Geoff, who took up bowls in 1975, before the craze for narrow-running bowls really got going. "On the indoor carpet at Potters, I was ad- vised against using bowls with minimum bias," he says. "It's not that bowlers in the UK prefer bowls with a wide arc, but they believe that 'straight' bowls are no good on the portable rink." Geoff found that to be true: 'straight' bowls get into runs in the carpet, and don't come back to the jack, while 'bendy' bowls come back off a line, and cut across the tracks. "It took a bit if getting used to after years of taking a narrower line," said Geoff, a dual Victorian Champion of Champions winner. "But it made you concentrate on the draw, and less on playing weight and trying to rest bowls near the jack." He found that it was best to 'trust the brain' and 'trust the feel', and is determined to get back to Potters, or one of the other UK ven- ues, for a World Bowls Tour event sometime soon. "I reckon we've got between thirty and fifty members of the PBA at the Brighton Indoor Centre, and that number is bound to increase when I tell them about my experience in the UK," he said. Indeed, he is sure that there is a future for Brighton as a venue for PBA qualifying events - so there may be increased competition for him in his ambition to return to UK. England's Greg Harlow, the number five seed, withstood a not inconsiderable chal- lenge from Scotland's rank outsider Stewart Anderson, whose form had been a revelation during the three weeks of the championships, and won the title with a 9-8 10-3 victory in the final. Robert Paxton, who put Maskell out of the event, went on to reach the semi finals, where he was beaten by the eventual champion. - David Rhys Jones The Maestro's UK Adventure • Left: Heavily rugged-up for the occasion Geoff and Jackie Maskell arrive at Potters Leisure Resort in England. • Below: Geoff and first round opponent Robert Paxton prior to play. • Top Right: England's Greg Harlow is crowned world indoor singles champion.
March April 2010