The announcement of the England teams to contest next summer’s men’s and women’s home international series saw Devon create yet another record, and brought good news for Cornwall – and, to a lesser extent, Somerset.
The national selectors have gone a far as to choose seven players from Devon among the 24 who will represent England in the men’s series in Llandrindod Wells, while the county will supply three players to the women’s team – plus reserve Lorraine Hackett.
It all adds up to an astonishing total of 11 players out of 60 from the county that is clearly regarded as the flag-bearers of the sport of bowls in England. When there were six Devon players in the men’s team this year, it was hailed as a record. Now there are seven!
One of them, Ollie Lucas, is a new cap who will be making his international debut alongside Huntingdonshire’s Alex Walton, while the other six are Jamie Chestney, Lee Haywood, Ian Lesley, Rob Paxton, Louis Ridout and Sam Tolchard.
Natalie Chestney and Sophie Tolchard were automatic choices for the women’s side, but it is good see Harriet Stevens being invited to make her debut at the Belmont club in Belfast in June.
On the downside, Cassidy Lenton has been dropped, and Lorraine Hackett, who stepped in as a reserve and played well last year, is unlucky not to be included.
So much for Devon, whose achievements are legendary, and, to some extent, taken for granted. Cornish bowlers have cause for celebration, with Mark Read keeping his place in the men’s team, and Michelle Moore gaining international honours for the first time. The Duchy rarely gets recognition at this level, but Moore will be de- lighted to be following in the footsteps of the likes of Gloria Thomas and Norma May.
John Hick was the last Somerset man to play for England, and the county rarely gets a look in these days – but it is good to see that the name of Taunton’s James Amery, the son of women’s international star Elaine Amery, has been included in the list of reserves.
Clevedon duo Laura Holden and Stef Branfield were guaranteed their places in the women’s side, after being excused from last weekend’s trial, but Taunton Deane’s Kirsty Hembrow, who played third to Ellen Falkner last year, makes way for the return of Annie Bellamy, and has to settle for a seat alongside Hackett on the reserve bench.