There will be increased excitement from bowlers in Taranaki this week when the programmes for the upcoming national championships finally arrive.
Those who have already not accessed the draws online are certain to notice some most unusual section play draws.
Generally, with the exception only of the women's fours, Taranaki competitors seemed to have been placed within the same half of the draw in each section. And with the top half of the draw playing only the bottom half of the draw, it effectively means there will be very few games between two Taranaki sides.
In the men's singles, there are 67 Taranaki players in the field of 280 but only two players have been drawn in what could be described as the visitors' side of the draw.
In short, the draw has been placed in a way so as to avoid locals playing each other.
Most of the players outside of the region are competitive bowlers and this is likely to lead to Taranaki players exiting the competition earlier than might have been the case with an open draw.
I don't recall such a placed draw being used in a national championship.
It is little better in the men's pairs or the women's singles or pairs.
Because the percentage of local teams is higher in the fours, there are more exceptions in the men's blue ribbon event.
In the women's fours, Taranaki provides 34 of the 56 teams and these sides seem to be evenly spread. There is one ridiculous situation where two New Plymouth sides, Val Fleming and Maree Gadsby, meet in the opening game.
The other interesting aspect of the draw is the allocation of greens. Some pairs have both days in New Plymouth, while others have both days in Hawera. It becomes more ridiculous in the fours, where the majority of qualifying will be held outside of New Plymouth.
Of course, the nationals are hosted by Taranaki and all clubs should be entitled to have some play during the event providing their greens are up to scratch. That could have been achieved with more careful planning in the singles and pairs.
Moreover, those contestants who have been allocated all five days of section play outside of New Plymouth will certainly not be happy.
Considering one of the objectives of hosting the event was to encourage entrants to return for the TSB Bank Open fours in future years, the allocation of greens goes against that target.
It is terrific to see the number of New Plymouth bowlers having a go at the big time. While most interest will fall on the likes of Darren Goodin, David Bennett and Cathy Andrews, inevitably some lesser-known players will grab the limelight - even if for just one game.
- Taranaki Daily News
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