Bowls local version of 20-20 cricket across the Shore



North Harbour Bowls with Lindsay Knight

Over the past few weeks, for much of March, North Harbour’s bowling clubs have shed some of their sedate atmosphere, at least on Thursday evenings, and taken on some of the hype and colour generally associated with the likes of 20-20 cricket.

This has been generated by Bowls North Harbour’s latest innovation, the Power Play Pairs League, which has been adapted for twilight play along the lines of the successful Australian quickfire bowls competition.

Instead of fours rolling up on a leisurely Saturday afternoon, teams of six split into three pairs playing only two bowls per player in two sets of just five ends.

The competition includes an adaptation of cricket’s power play in which teams can choose a particular end in which the number of shots they secure can be doubled.

Unfortunately, inopportune showers washed out the scheduled opening on March 8, but the aim was for the competition to be played over four days into early April, climaxing with a Grand Final on Sunday, April 8th. At stake will be prize money worth $2000.

The various Harbour clubs have been split into four zones: Helensville and Riverhead in the first, Warkworth, Orewa and Manly in the second, Takapuna, Milford, Mairangi Bay and Belmont Park in the third and Birkenhead, Beach Haven, Northcote, Sunnybrae and Glenfield in the fourth.

Centre chairman Graham Dorreen has been one of the inspirations  behind the new competition’s introduction. “We want to drive something that is enjoyable and fun as well as competitive,” he says. “There’s a real buzz around the concept.”

The competition format is ideally suited to some of the younger, athletic age-group who in recent years have been attracted, as has been the case in Australia for some time, to the sport.

A good example of this type of newer player is one of the rising stars not only of North Harbour bowls but of New Zealand, Rory Soden.

At just 23 Soden, now with the Browns Bay club, has already compiled an impressive bowling CV, which has been fitted around a busy working life in the building industry.

In each of the 2016-17 and 2017-18 season, he was an outstanding inspiring singles player in the Harbour development team which gained back to back national titles. He’s also well on his way to becoming a centre gold star holder with two championships already to his credit, in Browns Bay teams which won the fours in 2016-17 and the triples last season.

He also collected several national age group titles and his consistency last season was recognised with both the centre award as the outstanding male bowler in the one-to-eight year category and the overall supreme award.

This culminated in national selection, in the New Zealand under 25s who met their Australian counterparts in this year’s Transtasman series and as New Zealand’s representative in the world under 25 singles championship at Broadbeach on Queensland’s Gold Coast.

Harbour centre chairman Graham Dorreen, who has much to do with Soden in the past two seasons as selector and coach of the representative one-to-eight year side, made a special trip across the Tasman to give Soden support and was pleased with his efforts.

In what was stiff competition, with a number of the bowlers near world class, Soden narrowly missed making the play-offs, winning five of his 10 games. But most of his games were close and had just one more gone his way he would have been a semi-finalist.