Bowls: Auckland to host the T20 of Bowls

By Dale Budge

Mark Casey and Wayne Turley discuss tactics at the Commonwealth Games. Photo / Getty Images
Mark Casey and Wayne Turley discuss tactics at the Commonwealth Games. Photo / Getty Images

Bowls' version of T20 is set to arrive in Auckland early next year with confirmation the Bowls Premier League will be staged on the North Shore in late February.

The North Shore Events Centre and Sunnybrae Bowling Club are set to co-host the event which will attract a number of the world's best lawn bowlers for a high energy, entertainment-focused tournament televised live.

Australian Commonwealth Games and World Championship gold-medal winning star Mark Casey has been involved in putting the concept together.

"The format is designed to attract new people to our sport through quick, exciting play," Casey tells herald.co.nz. "The games are short - they go for about 45 minutes - it is very entertaining and not like bowls people have seen before.

"That is what we are aiming towards - a bit like the T20 in cricket or even darts to an extent. Our crowds are always higher and pretty loud."

Casey says the hope is that the concept will take off in New Zealand and will become a regular fixture on the calendar each year.

"BPL has been running for three years now," Casey says. "Each year the event has grown so it is now become not only one of the biggest events on our calendar but on World Bowls' calendar.

"We look like forming a really good partnership with Bowls New Zealand. While it is only a one-year agreement at the moment we look forward to having it here long term. We would look to form a three-year partnership if it all goes well."

A temporary artificial green will be set up at the North Shore Events Centre for the televised night matches while nearby Sunnybrae Bowling Club is likely to host three matches each day on traditional grass greens.

Casey says the venue at the NSEC will be first rate.

"That will be a first for bowls. There will be a world class facility for us to use with grandstands on one side with a corporate area on the other side so it is going to be sensational for the players to play on.

"There will be three games played during the day and it is likely we will be using Sunnybrae Bowling Club as a host venue for that, which is located right near the North Shore Events Centre. Players will then come over to the Events Centre at night to play the television games, which will be live on Sky Sport and also back in Australia on Fox Sports."

Seven Australian teams and one New Zealand side will compete at the tournament and Casey says the Kiwis should be one of the teams to beat again.

"The New Zealand team is the defending champions with Ali Forsyth, Shannon McIlroy and of course Jo Edwards and they will go really well again this year."

There is $100,000 prizemoney up for grabs so while the event will be of a carnival atmosphere there is a big incentive for players to produce their best.

Casey is encouraging Kiwi sports fans to get into the event - it is free entry. "What people don't realise is that the average age of the players is about 30. They are really young and entertaining players that like the crowd to get involved. We'd like to see spectators to dress up like they do at the darts and have some fun.

"There is word that Alex Marshall will be playing once again. He is Scottish and is the world's best player at the moment and has been for a while. That would be a major drawcard if we can get Alex involved.

"Ryan Bester, the Canadian superstar, is already confirmed and of course the Australians will be there - Aron Sheriff, Karen Murphy and Lynsey Clark - so all the names are there."

- NZ Herald

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