World champions and England internationals to battle it out at Melton

Defending men's singles champion Martin Spencer EMN-170321-131549002
Defending men's singles champion Martin Spencer EMN-170321-131549002

A host of England internationals and even the odd world champion will be doing battle as bowlers from all four corners of the country descend on Melton over the next eight days.

The opening competition of the championships – the men’s fours – will feature teams packed full of current internationals, recently returned from winning the British Isles Series in Belfast.

Swale are back to defend their ladies' fours title EMN-170321-131602002

Swale are back to defend their ladies' fours title EMN-170321-131602002

The quartet from Kingsthorpe club, from Northampton, all represented their country last week, while Spalding’s team boasts a trio of internationals – Graham Smith, Martin Spencer and Matt Whyers.

Three-time world indoor champion and England captain Andy Thomson will line up in the Cyphers team, from Kent, while other internationals to watch out for include Ian Bond and Jamie Chestney (Exonia), David Bolt (South Shields) and Martin Puckett (Moonfleet 2000).

The ladies’ fours, which begin on Saturday afternoon, opens with a heavyweight clash between defending champions Swale, who field the same players as last year, and an Ipswich quartet which includes Katherine Rednall, current ladies’ world champion.

Rednall will also feature in the ladies’ pairs (Wednesday) alongside Anna Chalk and they will hope to go one better than last year when they were beaten finalists against Riverain.

The Whiteknights triples winners with Melton IBC's Jenny McConnell EMN-170321-131616002

The Whiteknights triples winners with Melton IBC's Jenny McConnell EMN-170321-131616002

Sam Tolchard had a week to remember last year when he won the men’s pairs with Torquay United team-mate Louis Ridout and was then narrowly beaten by Spalding’s Martin Spencer in the singles final.

Neither Torquay nor runners-up Swale have made it through in the pairs this time, but both Tolchard and Spencer are in the last 16 of the singles, and if they meet it will once more be in the final.

They get their campaigns under way on Friday, March 31.

A standout name in the men’s pairs (Wednesday) is former world champion Billy Jackson who skips for Lincoln, while Bournemouth and Blackpool, runners-up in 2013 and 2012 respectively, also feature.

Whiteknights will field the same line-up as they begin their quest to defend the men’s triples crown against Norfolk Bowling Club on Monday morning.

But in the ladies’ triples, neither defending champions Swale nor runners-up Riverain, who both enjoyed such a strong 2016, have made it through to Melton.

Once again Ipswich will take some stopping with Christine Rednall joining Anna and daughter Katherine, while experienced international Janice Gower leads Blackpool’s bid.

The ladies’ singles (Friday, March 31) looks open with neither 2016 champion Annalisa Dunham (Spalding) nor runner-up Amy Stanton (Welford) present.

But 2012 champion Rebecca Field (Norfolk) and runner-up Lauren Mosley (Hartlepool), together with 2015 beaten finalist Penny Strong (Lincoln) are all in the draw.