Sport reinvigorated by TV tournaments

'It's on its way."

That was the standard beginning, usually in a moderate tone, before Stu Scott's tonsils changed gear as he tracked lawn bowls through 20 years of compelling radio commentaries.

Scott was a go-to listen during the summer months when he delivered accurate, passionate insights into a game which battled with cricket, tennis, motor racing and other sports for significant airtime.

He'd amp up any contest and talk about the Fishmonger fighting off the Sumo amidst all sorts of vocal flourishes.


More than a decade has passed since Scott laid down the microphone to redirect his energy to travel and his extended family, and it felt that a bit of fizz went out of the game. Numbers were OK but the sport tailed away in its promotion and marketing.

Television exposure has altered that with live coverage of the closing stages of the New Zealand Open this week at Blockhouse Bay.

One rink was rejigged to accommodate grandstands, corporate tables, television coverage and advertising hoardings as the finalists went about their work in the men's and women's sections.

At one end, in what looked to be a fading aquamarine-coloured caravan, Grant Nisbett anchored the television commentary with insights from defending men's singles champion Richard Girvan, who now works and bowls across the ditch.

They did not have the best vantage point and would have relied on their monitors but their commentary was another useful piece in the coverage.

Once the mid-session women's pairs final was done, Girvan swapped the caravan for centre-rink, where the leftie was interviewed about his chances in the singles final before he got changed to prepare for his duel with Chris Le Lievre.

The toss was only 40 minutes away but Girvan gave his answers and thoughts about the changing nature of the green, the conditions and the tournament.

Such a refreshing attitude and change from the asinine halftime interviews with breathless rugby players.

The tall, 43-year-old Girvan won the title in testing conditions from the younger Le Lievre, who built a strong reputation and represented New Zealand before moving to work out of the Glenroy club in Melbourne.

Bowls and television are not done with each other yet. Attention now moves to the fifth edition of the fast-paced Bowls Premier League, which is set to go on Monday in Auckland with $100,000 in the prize pool.

The Blackjacks crew of Jo Edwards, Shannon McIlroy and Blake Signal will go up against seven other teams from Australia with day matches at the Sunnybrae Bowling Club running into evening sessions which will be televised live on both sides of the Tasman from the North Shore Events Centre.

It won't be as rowdy as a darts tournament but organisers believe thousands will turn up to watch the fast-paced skills on the portable rink as the Sydney Lions - with national reps Aron Sherriff, Ben Twist and Karen Murphy - look to be the first side to win consecutive tournaments.

The Aussies will be confident after collecting a record medal haul at the world championships just before Christmas in Christchurch while the Blackjacks team has new pick Signal alongside the experience of Edwards and McIlroy, who won the third tournament in this series.

As Stu Scott would say: "It's on its way."