REPORT | England claim victory in high-quality friendly

25th May, 2021 by Rob Short

England’s bowlers emerged victorious from this weekend’s Test match versus Ireland, in what was a very satisfactory step on the road to Birmingham 2022.

Under the watchful eye of Performance Director John McGuinness, as well as the team selectors, England claimed a victory over 38 games across the two days in the picturesque setting of the Essex County Bowls Club in Westcliff-on-Sea. The home side won 30 of those matches, but the key take away from the weekend was the preparation and a return to the green after a long absence.

“The players applied themselves brilliantly” commented McGuinness, “and I believe both teams got a lot out of the event.”

It was in the singles, in particular, where the home team asserted their dominance, which leaves McGuinness with much to ponder as he narrows down his Commonwealth Games squad.

“A number of the players had good weekends and that has given me a headache” the Performance Director admitted. “But it’s a good position to be in. And the scary thing is, none of the team have hit their peak yet – which should be very exciting for English bowls fans ahead of 2022.”

Husband and wife team Jamie and Natalie Chestney were two of the players in scintillating form. It was clear to see from the whole team the joy at being back on the green after a year away from international duties.

“There’s a real sense of us building to the Games now” Natalie commented. “I love playing with my teammates and hopefully that comes across – how much we enjoy it.

“It’s a great group and it’s so hard to pick just five ladies. I am determined to make sure I’m there but I’m taking nothing for granted.”

Similarly, husband Jamie is fully aware of the competition for places.

“It was a cracking weekend of matches. We had our work cut out against a strong Ireland team, but it says alot about our team’s ability that we were able to secure such a comprehensive win.

“I need to perform all summer to make the squad.”

Performance Director McGuinness was keen to pay tribute to their opponents, as well as their hosts at Essex County. “It was great that Ireland made the effort to come over for this match,” said McGuinness, “and I must say the facilities and greens at Essex County were first class.”

With so few losses over the course of the weekend, our England bowlers have made the selection process that bit harder for 2022. All eyes now fall on a couple of further International matches over the next few months, where the squad for next summer will be decided.

Many of the international team will also be in action over the Bank Holiday – at Bowls’ Big Weekend! The nationwide Open Day event has been hitting the headlines, and many clubs across the country are gearing up for a bumper weekend of bowls. Some will even have international player popping in over the course of the Bank Holiday.

You can still find your local event here.

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