Northants men begin the defence of the English Bowling Federation’s inter-county championship on Saturday when they entertain Norfolk at Whittlesey Manor (2pm).
New team captain Fred Richardson relies on most of the squad that lifted the Adams Trophy at Skegness last August for the first time in the county’s history.
“I am confident I have picked a team good enough to defend the title, which is always a tough task, but they will have to perform,” he said.
“We still have the team spirit and we know what it takes to win, we just have to go out there and do it again.”
Barry Lawrence returns to the team after injury ruled him out for much of last season, replacing county president Bob Warters at number two to Roger Martin. Warters has decided to step down to join the Newton team’s bid for national glory.
Richardson, who has stepped down from playing, has also called in Yaxley’s Tony Belson, who will play at number two to Lee Welsford, the only unbeaten skip from last year who has decided to resume playing after scrapping plans to take time out.
Brian Bassam’s Newton Trophy squad face Norfolk at Parkway, with new faces in the squad including West Ward’s Mick Duell and Brian Swann, City of Peterborough’s Michael Humphreys and the returning Dick Noble (West Ward), who actually played for Norfolk last year, plus last year’s successful Adams captain Cliff Watson (Peterborough & District).
Sean Fenlon (West Ward), Barry Lawrence (Whittlesey Manor), Roger Martin (City of Peterborough).
Nick Wilkie, Martin Stokes, Paul Buckley (all Blackstones).
Adam Warrington, Stephen Harris, Jon Earl (all Blackstones).
Roger Stevens (Whittlesey Manor), Paul Bailey (Blackstones), Martin Welsford (Whittlesey Manor).
Steve Roden (Whittlesey Manor), Graham Agger (Yaxley), Peter Brown (Whittlesey Manor).
Neil Wright (Parkway), Tony Belson (Yaxley), Lee Welsford (Whittlesey Manor).
NEWTON TROPHY SQUAD
Andrew Grief, Peter Holmes (both Crowland), Fred Addy (Parkway), Bob Warters (Ketton), Cliff Watson (Peterborough & District), Peter Jessop (West Ward), Les Sharp (Yaxley), Mick Linnell, Brian Swann, Jim Ruddy, Phil Afford, Dick Noble (all West Ward), Jack Corney (Whittlesey Manor), Michael Humphreys (City of Peterborough), Mick Duell (West Ward), John Holroyd (Stamford), Mick Greaves, Brian Bassam (both Peterborough & District), Howard Shipp (Parkway), Malcolm Squires (City of Peterborough), Darren Lord (Whittlesey Manor), Roger Strong (City of Peterborough).
There were some early round upsets in the county competitions with defeats for some of the defending champions.
Last year’s four-bowl singles winner Joe Martin (Peterborough & District) was pipped 20-21 by Steve Roden (Whittlesey Manor); mixed triples champions Nick Wilkie (Blackstones), Shirley Suffling (Ketton) and Paul Buckley (Blackstones) were beaten 14-16 by Langtoft Pearl’s Peter and Andrea Cox with Andrew Windsor and pairs title holders Robert Heath and Tony Belson (Yaxley), who went through to reach the national final at Skegness, lost 13-15 to Roger Martin and Michael Humphreys (City of Peterborough).
Northants women made a successful return to inter-county action at the weekend when they defeated North Cambs 119-92 at March in the Donald Steward Trophy.
They won on four of the five rinks to collect 16 of the 18 points on offer, and only a one-shot defeat for Linda Darani’s rink prevented an opening day ‘whitewash.’
Northants 119 (16), North Cambs 92 (2) – (Northants rinks only):
Fiona Richardson, Norma Squires, Linda Darani lost 17-18.
Liz Barr, Chris Ford, Hazel Bass won 21-15.
Shirley Suffling, Doris Flowers, Julie Masters won 28-17.
Ann Cullingworth, Jessica Phillips, Joan Padley won 25-17.
Sue Moir, Vie Hatch, Sheila Craig won 28-25.
Hunts have their first two qualifiers for the Bowls England national championships at Leamington in August.
Youngsters Ed Elmore (Warboys) and James Price (Brampton) qualified from the men’s day-long two-bowl singles event at Brampton to book their places before facing each other in the county finals at Yaxley on July 31.
In the semi-finals, Elmore defeated twin brother Rob 14-11, while Price toppled former outdoor international Nicky Brett (Warboys) 14-12.
Defending champion Stuart Popple (Parkway) was beaten 13-15 by Robert Elmore in the round of the last 16, while Tristan Morton (Parkway), the first ever national winner of this title, went down 6-17 at the same stage to Price.
Both qualifiers were in the Hunts under 25 double rink team that has qualified for the regional finals of the Bowls England White Rose Trophy, the inter-county junior championship, which are being played for the second year running at Whittlesey Manor on June 19.
Hunts were 39-20 winners away to Norfolk in the qualifying round, the rinks being Tom Hall, Sam Nickerson, Joe Randall, Ed Elmore; Josh Clark, Kierran Murray, James Price, Lewis Baker.