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Harris honoured to represent country in Under 25 international series

Stamford bowler Stephen Harris will be making his debut for England on Saturday.

The 21-year-old will be representing his country in the two-day British Isles Under 25 International series against Scotland, Wales and Ireland at Aberdeen Indoor Bowls Club.

He will play in a lead (number one) position - dictating the length of the jack when in possession and delivering the first two crucial bowls for his rink of four players.

Stephen Harris (7151526)
Stephen Harris (7151526)

He will feature in one of four quartets under the management of bowling legend Andy Thomson, the England team manager.

The rest of his rink are Jack Bird (York & District), Andrew Rodger (Swale) and skip Jamie Barker (St Neots).

Also featuring in the team of 16 of England's brightest prospects is his Spalding club-mate and fellow former Stamford College student Jordan Philpott.

Joining Stephen on the Aberdeen sidelines will be his proud parents Darren and Tracey Harris, making the 600-mile round trip to support him.

Stephen, who joined Spalding IBC in September to further his career, has also been bowling at Stamford IBC and Blackstones since he was a child. He credits club member and former teacher Mike Ramsden for introducing him to the game.

He explained: “I was 10-years-old and Mike brought four of us down to the indoor club from the Bluecoat School. I took to it immediately."

Harris has been unbeaten for several years in the Northants Federation indoor and outdoor Under 25 singles and successfully retained the Lincolnshire indoor singles last year.

He is also currently enjoying a successful run on the Open singles circuit and is 14th in the rankings having reached a final and two quarter-finals by beating bowling legends Nick Brett and Greg Harlow along the way.

Stephen Harris (7151530)
Stephen Harris (7151530)

Harris, who is a print-worker in Bourne, added: “It's a great honour to represent my country and I am really looking forward to it, especially pulling on an England jersey.

“Of course I will be nervous but once I have played a few ends in the opening match against Scotland, hopefully I will settle down and treat it just like another game, trying to draw my bowls as close as possible to the jack and set up heads for my team-mates."

Already his mentor and pairs partner Graham Smith, captain of Spalding and Lincolnshire and a regular in the England senior team for almost a decade, rates Harris as one of the best two-bowl leads in the country at any age.

Smith said: “Nothing seems to phase Stephen. He has a great attitude and is very calm under pressure, playing lead is a particularly difficult position where you have to be on your game.

"He has a simple, repeating delivery and a natural aptitude as a front end player. He has turned himself into an excellent lead, immediately putting the opposition under pressure and making it easier for the rest of his rink to control the head of bowls."

Harris has reached the Area 5 final of the EIBA two-bowl singles, defeating his friend and clubmate Jordan Philpott.

He trailed 3-11 and 9-17 before picking up seven shots, only to trail 16-18 when he inadvertently removed his own bowl from the head.

Philpott grabbed two more shots to lead 20-16 but five shots in three ends took Harris over the line 21-20 and a clash with either Joe Dawson (Barwell) or Chris Rodgers (Melton).

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