Local bowlers head to Newark next week in search of national glory in the English Bowling Federation men’s and women’s indoor finals.
Northants Bowling Federation have not been blessed with many trophies from this event in recent years, with only six individual national titles having been achieved since 2001, and none since 2009.
Two of those representing the county next week – Nick Wilkie and Martyn Dolby – have between them been responsible for four of those six. Both won the mixed pairs, Wilkie also won the singles, while Dolby took the pairs in 2009, the last time Northants tasted individual success at the Nottinghamshire venue.
Jenny Harvey faces a hectic week, having qualified in three events – singles, senior singles and the pairs with Carol Hunter.
Meanwhile, Simon Law, singles and triples, and Nick Wilkie, pairs and mixed triples, are both chasing title doubles.
Singles: Simon Law v Derbyshire, Wednesday, 3.30pm
Senior singles: Martyn Dolby v Notts, Wednesday, 9.30am
Pairs: Nick Wilkie & Andrew Thurston v Lincs, Thursday, 5.00pm
Triples: Neil Wright, James Harford, Simon Law v Lincs, Tuesday, 12.30pm
Under 25 singles: James Harford v Humberside, Friday, 9.30am
Pairs: Ann Holmes & Richard Allam v North Cambs, Wednesday, 9.30am
Triples: Mary Malton, Stephen Harris, Nick Wilkie v North Essex, Tuesday, 12.30pm.
Singles: Jenny Harvey v North Cambs, Thursday, 9.30am
Senior singles: Jenny Harvey v Lincs or Notts, Thursday, 7.30pm
Pairs: Jenny Harvey & Carol Hunter v Hunts, Wednesday, 3.30pm
Triples: Pat Bussey, Liz Hext, Sheila Craig v Hunts, Tuesday, 9.30am
Hunts men will probably have their best chance of qualifying for the quarter-finals of the Middleton Cup inter-county championship since reaching the final in 2010.
The new groupings for the East section see Hunts lining up with Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, while some of the more powerful counties in this part of the region – Norfolk, Essex, Leicestershire, Suffolk and Northants – are all drawn in the same section.
With Hunts having two of their three fixtures on home territory at Parkway, they ought to be considered favourites to progress from the group and into the last eight.
On the other hand the women have struggled in the Johns Trophy since it was changed from a midweek knockout competition to a Saturday event in keeping with the men, not helped by the unavailability of some of the county’s more established players.
Hunts lost all four matches last year, but it’s hoped that the experience gained from some of the younger players who were blooded last year will enable them to be more competitive when they face Northants (away), Norfolk (Parkway), Herts (away) and Bedfordshire (Brampton).
On the county championship front, two semi-final days are being included in the schedule this season, one at Brampton on July 11, with the other at Parkway a week later, followed by the county finals on July 26 at Somersham.
Saturday, May 30 – Cambs (Parkway)
Saturday, June 13 – Beds (away)
Saturday, July 4 – Herts (Parkway)
Saturday, May 30 – Northants (away)
Saturday, June 5 – Norfolk (Parkway)
Saturday, June 27 – Herts (away)
Saturday, July 4 – Beds (Brampton)
EASTERN COUNTIES LEAGUE
Saturday, May 2 – Norfolk (Brampton)
Saturday, May 9 – Herts (away)
Saturday, May 23 – Cambs (Somersham)
Saturday, June 27 – Beds (away)
Saturday, July 25 – Suffolk (Brampton)
There was no national title joy for local bowlers at the English national indoor finals at Melton Mowbray, although the young Spalding trio of Rebecca Simpson, Chelsea Tomlin and Annie Dunham reached the final of the women’s triples, where they were beaten 21-17 by Ipswich.
Simpson and Dunham also lost in the pairs final - 15-13 to Blackpool.
Nicky Brett, representing the City of Ely club with Greg Harlow and Rob Elmore, lost 13-11 in the opening round of the triples to Wellingborough, who went on to reach the final, while Catherine Popple, also playing out of the City of Ely club, was edged out 16-15 in the first round of the triples by the eventual winners Ipswich, the city bowler playing with fellow internationals Ellen Falkner and Sarah Seymour.
Spalding’s Matt Whyers, Martin Simpson and Graham Smith were beaten 18-17 by Wellingborough in the second round of the triples.