- Advertisement -

OPINION | Corky looks ahead to World Indoor Championships

BBC Commentator and Bowls International columnist, David Corkill, gives his insight into the upcoming World Indoor Bowls Championships at Potters Resort:

Later this week, the Potters jamboree of bowls will start in Hopton-on-Sea. The quiet Norfolk village will once again be inundated by the world’s best indoor bowlers and those who wish to see them display their skills on the famous blue portable rink.

Last year was a monumental effort by everyone concerned to ensure the championship actually took place. This time, we are hoping for a most different experience with crowds in attendance and a full programme of activities for all.

It is absolutely essential for all of this to take place as it brings the very best out of the bowlers. Playing in front of 1,000-plus spectators is a wonderful experience and you either embrace and love it or fold and check the return ticket home. Not everyone survives. It is not always easy, and I have seen it many times where quality exponents of our sport just couldn’t handle the atmosphere and television cameras. That is why it is a test, not just bowling ability, but also of mental capacity to absorb the surroundings and make it your home.

The very best do just that and that is why they are always the favourites to still be there toward the end of the championships. This is why it’s around this time that I get a lot of enquiries as to who I think will be the outright winner. My standard answer to this is one of the top 16. Even I think that is a sitting on the fence comment that just doesn’t seem true, but it is.

I suppose I could try to narrow it down, but over the last few years, we have seen some monumental performances and whilst maybe not surprises they were certainly not expected.

Mark Dawes is one such performer. Mark was known as a terrific player and we all knew about his talent, but he has now blasted his way to two World Singles titles. You don’t achieve that from nowhere, but until a few years ago he was untested at the very highest level and an unknown quantity in front of a large crowd and television. Fortunately, Mark was blessed with a temperament that not only could cope with the pressure but embrace it. Unflappable is a term that could be most appropriately used to describe him. An ability to get on with the job at hand and produce some stunning play along the way.

This could also be said of many of the top players but not everyone likes to play bowls like that. At this point, I think back to previous performances by Wayne Willgress. The local man who is almost the opposite on the rink to the calm and collected Mark Dawes. Wayne is all emotion and gesticulation. He shows every nuance and reaction to his play that belies the skill and ambition that lies within.

Last year he had to pull out of the singles event at the quarter-final stage when he was due to play his friend and roommate Perry Martin who had himself shown great resolve to reach this stage for the first time. Sadly, they both tested positive for COVID and had to relinquish their places in the last eight.

This year Wayne is back, he has made it through the qualifying stages and will be raring to go again. I can’t think of two more contrasting bowlers that both offer so much in different ways to our sport. Like Mark, a few years ago, I wonder if Wayne can just go a little further and step up the limelight that was so close last year. By the way, he also brings some supporters with him to Potters.

They may be few in number, but they are noisy and very much behind Wayne to win every match. It is great to see them and to hear them. The enthusiasm they bring is a vital part of the game and we really need more of it. I have played in events where the noise level was constant and varied and it is the best of places to be. I really hope they turn up. Support of this kind is refreshing, and it also can get into the heads of players, some of whom really don’t relish what they bring to the party. Wayne has all the skills to make his mark on this event I hope he does as it is great to see.

I am not tipping Wayne to be the outright winner it is far too open for that, but he does put on a show and we need more of that in this sport.


The World Indoor Bowls Championships commence on Friday (7th January) at Potters Resort. Live coverage can be found on the World Bowls Tour’s Facebook page and YouTube Channel throughout the event.

Click here to view the full draws and playing schedule