Team Australia has returned home from the 25th Asian Championship with two top ten finishes in Kuwait.
The coaching team of Billy Gardiner and Rob Alexander felt proud of what the team achieved in some tough circumstances.
“Given the teams limited preparations I feel the team performed admirably” said Gardiner. “I thought overall the team bowled well considering the difficult lane conditions” explained Alexander.
The championship would decide to implement World Bowling’s Current frame scoring for the event. The scoring awards pins as follows: strike 30 (regardless of ensuing rolls’ results), spare: 10 plus pinfall on first roll of the current frame. Open: Total pinfall for that current frame.
The scoring method was the all the talk of the Aussie camp and had mixed reviews.
“The World scoring was interesting” said experienced campaigner Adam Hayes. “No rewards for stringing strikes, a very cutthroat last frame. Personally, I’m not a fan but I can see how it makes it easier for the spectator. If you could throw 6-8 strikes a game spares almost didn’t matter”.
“While it can be forgiving in the sense that you get 30 for a strike, if you leave a frame open, you’re copping it” said Chloe Jones with a laugh. “So, if you go 9, then miss, you only get nine for the whole frame. Plus, having a string of strikes doesn’t really give much of a benefit. It’s still only 30 per frame no matter how many you have in a row”.
“The scoring system I wasn’t too keen about before I arrived & didn’t really know how it all worked but by the end of the tournament, I began to like it” said Jenny Notman. “I found that I didn’t stress about missing early frames in a game like I normally would in the normal scoring system because I knew if I could string a few strikes together I would get back on track. It definitely made the scores a lot higher & you knew if you didn’t throw the 240 odd games a lot you wouldn’t be in contention to win a medal unfortunately. I still prefer the old scoring system but I’m happy that I got to bowl using this one”.
The ladies got things underway for the campaign for the Aussies with six games on the agenda with medals on offer for the top 3. Rookie team member Jenny Notman got off to a fast start by being in 7th position at the halfway mark after scoring a three game series of 716 (209,277,230). Things cooled a bit in the next three with scores of 190, 199. Still, averaging 217.17 over the six, Notman would place the highest of the female Aussies in 28th position.
Notman admitted to being in a good space and not nervous at all coming into her first event in the green and gold. “I think having the experience of bowling in America in the PWBA really got me ready for this occasion”.
“Getting off to a great start in the singles definitely was a confidence booster. The condition was tricky & you needed to make those quick changes when the transition hit. Even though my first 3 games were great & my next 3 weren’t as good, I was still happy to finish 103 pins over the card”.
Shalin Zulkifli from Malaysia would win gold from Indonesia winning silver and Korea the bronze medal.
Two squads would be in play for the men with an increase in participants. Experienced campaigner Adam Hayes would lead the Australians finishing in 21st place. Hayes averaged 229.33 over six with a high game of 268. Nathan Shoesmith and Callum Borck followed in 45th and 46th position for the first squad. After a slow start for Borck, the Western Australian finished strong with a final three game series of 706 which featured a high game of 278 in the sixth.
Day two saw the final pairing of Jayden Leming and Matt Watson take to the lanes. Watson averaged 214.83 on his way to finish 34th in the squad.
Malaysia would make it two out of two with Timmy Tan claiming the gold from Dhruv Sara from India and Shusaku Asato from Japan.
The pairing of Jaime Maglieri and Jaimie-Lee Spiller finished highest for the Australian ladies in 18th place. Right behind them in 19th place was another Australian pair in Jenny Notman and Dena Buxton. The men would see the best result occur for the team in the doubles event. The pairing of Adam Hayes and Matt Clague went on to finish sixth overall in the doubles event. The Hayes/Clague duo would finish 25 pins behind eventual bronze medallists Korea with Hayes averaging 236 and Clague 233 over the six.
“I love bowling with Matty” said a pleased Adam Hayes. “He’s got a laid-back attitude but aggressive on the lanes. It was a huge buzz to be in contention and with a couple of little breaks we would have been bringing home a medal”.
For the ladies, Korea would win gold and silver while Malaysia claimed the bronze. China would win gold in the men with Indonesia and Korea following.
Both the girl’s teams performed well by finishing 14th and 16th. Notman, Spiller and Buxton would be in the 14th placed team with Dena Buxton leading the way averaging 221.67 over the six.
For the men, Clague and Hayes would try continue their strong form from the doubles adding Callum Borck to the mix. All three averaged over 220 in the six which would give them 15th position, evidence of how tough it was throughout the event.
“Reading the lanes was a challenge when following different people and having different looks” explained Hayes. “The lanes played different every day, especially pair to pair and even lane to lane. Staying on top of the moves was crucial even though the moves were only small”.
Malaysia would win gold for both the ladies and men event. The two Korean teams won silver and Bronze for the ladies’ event while Kuwait and a second Malaysian team followed for the men.
TEAM OF 5
The last event saw five of each gender picked to participate in the team event that would commence in two blocks of three games over two days.
The male team finished 13th overall with all four scoring well. Jayden Leming was the standout as the Queenslander went onto average 236.5 throughout the six.
The lane conditions were a constant battle for the Australians throughout the week and Adam Hayes help clarify how it impacted on the equipment choices.
“During the teams we all needed to be using urethane and playing the right of the lane. Some teams were using up to ten urethanes creating a totally different dynamic. Virtually the only way to beat them was to join them”.
The ladies though would be in real contention after day 1 finishing in 5th position after the first block. The team would finish off in 8th position, 77 pins behind the bronze medal score from China. Chloe Jones would star in the final event averaging 224.5 over the six.
“The team event for me is always my favourite event” explained Jones. “I love getting behind the team and supporting everyone. Bowling well was good as I’d had a bit of a rough week, but I was so focused on everyone else I didn’t realise until the end just how good I’d actually bowled! While I was immensely disappointed when we didn’t get a medal, the fact that we put ourselves in contention for one was incredible. It’s not very often we get the opportunity to be in a position like that, so it was still a good feeling knowing we were close”.
Korea, Malaysia and Chinese Taipei would medal for the ladies while Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei and China were the three top teams for the men.
Excess baggage charges are always a challenge our country faces when travelling to the Asian events and this trip was no different.
“Baggage was a huge challenge with the sky-high costs… we could realistically only bring 3 balls without paying thousands” explained Adam Hayes.
With a limited arsenal of equipment plus the challenging conditions it makes it a hard task on the lanes when competing against the best in Asia.
“We don’t get these types of conditions in Australia which makes it hard for us Aussies to compete with these other countries who do this for a living” described Notman.
The medal results may not have eventuated but key learnings that can be used for the future will be a takeaway.
“I’m feeling very grateful that I got to experience this all so young, and with such an amazing group of women” explained Chloe Jones. “I didn’t really have too many goals set for myself this week, I more so just wanted to take it all in and learn as much from not only other countries but also our own as much as possible. It’s crazy to see just how good the likes of Korea and Malaysia are at this level”.
“I feel we have the nucleus of a great team moving forward” said a proud Coach Gardiner. “Callum Borck, Emma Williamson and Chloe Jones all proved they can match it with the best of Asia at times”.
Both coaches felt that an increase in practice on tougher lane conditions and a rise in the amount of time spent together prior to the trip as possible improvements for the future.
Two top ten finishes are nothing to sneeze at when competing on this level. The Asian Championships showcases the best bowlers in Asia and when close to half of this team were of or just above youth age or bowling in their first event, the future looks very bright.
CREDIT TO ABF FOR PHOTOS