Stamford bowler Stephen Harris wins the English Bowling Association’s prestigious pairs title at Nottingham
What a fortnight it’s been for Stamford’s Stephen Harris.
After winning the English Bowling Federation Under 25 singles at Newark, he switched codes and venues and within a few days had also won the English Bowling Association’s prestigious pairs title at Nottingham, leading for Spalding club-mate Graham Smith in a thrilling final.
Stephen plays his national competitions out of the Spalding Indoor Club where its influence has helped him gained England Under 25 international honours.
The 24-year-old has quickly built up a good understanding with the vastly experienced Smith who has represented the England senior team for more than a decade.
After overcoming pairs from Whiteknights (Reading), Newton Hall (Blackpool) and Nottingham, they faced fellow internationals Lewis Baker and Nick Brett, the former world indoor champion who had already won the EIBA singles title.
The final proved to be their toughest game to date against their opposition from Huntingdon with the lead see-sawing between the two sides.
Stephen explained: “It got pretty tense towards the end.
“We were a fair few shots behind but managed to get a four and a three-count to regain the lead and with a two on the penultimate 17th end ( rules were changed from 21 ends for the 2019-20 season) we led by three going into the last end.
“On the 18th end I struggled to nail a good bowl and Lewis and Nick held four for the match but Graham moved the jack to be just three down, leaving Nick a draw shot for the match. He came up just short.
“Going to the extra end, we lost the toss and ‘took the mat’ but I drew my four bowls into good areas but not enough to finish the game off.
“With his last bowl Lewis touched the jack around the corner to my two bowls at the back out of sight.
“It left Nick with no real shot or move the jack. Graham covered to try to block a passage for Nick’s attempt to ‘kill’ the end. Nick failed with all four of his ‘running’ shots leaving us with shot bowl to win the title 22-21.
“It topped off a fantastic fortnight of bowls. A massive thanks to everyone who has supported me, it means so much.”
The pair now go on to compete in the British Isles Championships – a tournament held between the champions of England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Guernsey and Jersey – to be held in Belfast from March 14-16, 2022.
In the women’s national pairs, Stephen’s sister Louise partnered Katie Bailey but the Stamford duo lost in the second round.