World number one Nicky Brett and the man he replaced, Greg Harlow, head the high calibre field at this year’s EIBA National Indoor Championships.
The national men’s and women’s champions at singles, pairs, triples and fours will all be crowned at Melton Indoor Bowls Club during the next fortnight along with the top county teams.
The action gets under way tomorrow afternoon with the men’s pairs and the action continues from dawn until dusk every day until the championships draw to a close on Sunday, April 12 with the men’s county team final.
Brett teams up in the triples with former world champion Harlow and fellow England international Robert Elmore in a formidable City of Ely outfit team. They face a mouthwatering first round clash on Wednesday afternoon against a Wellingborough trio led by world under 25s champion and reigning national singles champion Jamie Walker.
Three-time indoor world champion Andy Thomson, one of the most popular players on the circuit, also features in the triples, skipping the Cyphers team. They face Swale who include England under 25 internationals Perry Martin and Lewis King.
Experienced international Robert Newman has won all four national titles during a long career and heads the Desborough triple against Clarrie Dunbar, while holders Spalding, who had a superb 2014 championships, open against Darlington.
Newman will also challenge in the pairs with Michael Knight who begin their campaign against Alfreton in the opening session of the tournament tomorrow afternoon from 2pm when reigning champions Andrew Manton and Neil McKee (Kingsthorpe) begin their bid for back-to-back titles.
All eyes will be on Melton’s Chris Rodgers and Les Gillett who face Portsmouth-based club Victory in the last 32 tomorrow from 6pm.
Thomson returns to the Leicester Road club on Monday to leads Cyphers in the fours against Mid-Suffolk, while international skip Robert Paxton leads Taunton Deane against Bournemouth.
Torquay United will be among the favourites for the fours crown with a team which includes internationals Louis Ridout and Sam Tolchard.
Harlow and Thomson will play in the men’s singles and both feature in the top half of the draw for the last 32 matches which begins on Friday, April 10 from 10am.
Last year’ singles runner-up David Hubbard (Adur) will hope to go one better and begins at 1pm next Friday against Desborough’s J. McGuinness.
England international Sarah Seymour was the star of last year’s ladies’ finals, picking up two titles for the strong City of Ely club.
She opens the defence of her singles crown against Carol Crafer on Friday, April 10, and is joined in the last 16 by England team-mates Sophie Tolchard and Katherine Rednall.
Seymour also attempts to retain her pairs title with fellow international Ellen Falkner, but has a tough first round assignment on Saturday afternoon against a Blackpool NH pair skipped by experienced international Janice Gower.
Another England bowler Sandy Hazell reached two finals last year with Swale and opens her pairs campaign against Spalding.
In the triples, holders Rebecca Carter, Louise Catchpole and Rebecca Field (Norfolk) begin against Blackpool next Wednesday, while the ladies’ fours gets under way at the quarter-final stage on Monday where a new team will be crowned champions.
Veteran former international Mary Price leads Desborough, while Katherine Rednall skips the Ipswich four who face Leicestershire club Barwell.
* The club will be open for breakfast every day from 7.30am and has seating capacity for 300 spectators.
Admission costs just £2 for a full day, and programmes are £2, while entry is free for Melton IBC members.
The club bar and restaurant will be open throughout the day until late.