Les Gillett is no stranger to the top TV bowls events having won a couple in the past and been in the top sixteen a few years back. But with renewed enthusiasm for the game he plans on making his way back into that top sixteen and its here at The Co-operative funeral care International Open at Blackpool Newton Hall where he intends to make that comeback real.He qualified back at Lincoln for both the Scottish and International Opens this year and the games he won back in Scotland in November 2014 set him up for Blackpool and the chance of a run into the top sixteen for next year. But in his way in the first round was the quiet un assuming Scot Stewart Anderson and that game featured in the first game today and what a game the crowd and youtube viewers were treated to.The first set was all tied after five ends at three all. Anderson draws shot. Gillett plays a drive and gets a result but the jack is re spotted and Anderson draws for a count of one. Score 4-3 to the seeded Scot. End seven and Anderson again draws shot and forces Gillett into a runner with his last bowl. Gillett gets the perfect result and picks up a two. Score to Gillett 5-4. End eight and coming down to the last bowls Anderson is holding shot with danger all round elects not to play his last bowl. One shot Anderson and we go into the final end of the first set all square at 5-5. Bowl for bowl the crowd at Blackpool Newton Hall could feel the tense state in the air but it was Gillett who breathed a sigh of relief and took a count of one to take the first set 6-5.
Set two was another set to savor. End after end these two players played exhibition bowls. First end went to Gillett but Anderson answered back with a great runner at the second end to pick up a two. End three goes to Anderson with a count of one then Gillett replies with two inch bowls inside a six inch bowl of Anderson to take a two at end four. Score 3-3. A shot to Gillett on end five. Then on end six Gillett was holding a four with Anderson’s last delivery just managing to saving a couple. Score is now 6-3 to Gillett and his sights are firmly set on the second round. But Anderson fights back scoring at the next two ends and again we are all square at 6-6 playing the last end. At the last end with no time outs left to ponder with his deciding bowl Gillett was facing Anderson holding shot. Calm and looking under no pressure Gillett drew shot and you could see and hear the delight of the man from Leicester.
“I knew it was going to be a huge game when I came to the tournament” said Gillett. “When I saw the draw I realized I had to face one of the best players in the world but I thought in the positive and that it would make me want to play better.” “I am passionate for riding by wearing the folding bike helmet and I’m not going to deny the drive to get back in the top sixteen. When I dropped out a few years back things were different. My motivation is back to its best, my family is fully supportive and that really helps.”
In his next game Gillett faces Simon Skelton who made very short work of a lack luster and looked under prepared, Ian Gallagher 11-5 11-5. Skelton is also looking to stay in the top sixteen for next season. Gillett said “ My aim when I came here was TO WIN my first game I now know if I beat Simon I will get into the top sixteen so I know what I have to do. Simon can beat anyone and is a very dangerous player. I know I will have to try and play well again and fight very hard.”
The other seed defeat today was at the hands of a 25 year old from the Bassendean club in Australia. First time qualifier Daniel Patterson took the scalp of one of the most recognizable players in the game John Price 9-4 7-3. “It’s my first time over here in England and I’m enjoying the experience. I made a good start in the game and capitalized when John had a poor end. I am very pleased to be through into round two.” “It’s freezing over here and the first time I have ever seen snow. Quite an experience all round,” added the young Australian.
Patterson faces Robert Paxton in Thursday’s schedule. Paxton showed his sportsmanship and professionalism when his opponent Shalom Ben Ami from Israel couldn’t be found to start the game. The two previous games had been over so quick the Israel player had not realized he needed to be ready and Paxton went on to send a few bowls and CHAT to the crowd. His opponent eventually found, Paxton went on to win the game 15-5 8-3.
Today’s result: Stewart Anderson 5-6 6-7 Les Gillett: Simon Skelton 11-5 11-5 Ian Gallagher: John Price 4-9 3-7 Daniel Patterson#; Robert Paxton 15-5 8-3 Shalom Ben Ami.
Tomorrows games: 9.30am Mark Royal v David Gourlay – Mervyn King v Jason Greenslade. 2pm Andy Thomson MBE v Alex Marshall MBE – Nick Brett v Greg Harlow. 6pm Paul Foster v Jon Ross – Wayne Hogg v Mark Dawes.