Andrew Lloyd Webber infamously once asked on British TV “How do you solve a problem like Maria?” Well currently more than 1 person is asking “how do you solve the problems with Middlesex?”


Players arriving late, players arriving in playing kit, players arriving looking like they fell through a hedge on route, a lack of confidence in their own ability on the green, heads going down at the first knock back and players leaving before all 6 rinks had been completed. We have the resources and the personnel but how do we get the best out of them coupled with the commitment necessary to blossom in the competitive arena. Who’d be a team Manager??


Saturday 15th July saw the opportunity for Middlesex to have a look at how the current Home Counties League Leaders Berkshire have seemingly turned things round with an apparently more professional approach. Blazers have been dispensed with and players arrive for games in a County Polo Shirt and Fleece. They held a team meeting before the game and interestingly they seemed to hold a de brief after it. There is a real “can do” attitude on the green with everyone supporting one another, there was no evident blame culture and all this is seemingly led by their World Champion Andy Knapper.


The simple fact that a current world champion is turning out for them in the Home Counties says a lot about their attitude towards things.


The game itself was played in constant heavy drizzle which probably provided one of the few highlights of the morning, the opportunity to laugh at those players who seem to believe that as they have Bowls England shorts they should play in them whatever the weather!


When the game eventually started Middlesex slid behind early, trailing 19-33 after 5 ends. Middlesex did however lead on 3 rinks. At 10 ends Middlesex trailed by 29, 38-67 and only 1 rink remained in front.


Middlesex then staged a fight back, winning the next 5 ends across the green 33-22 to trail 71-89 at 15 ends. Middlesex were back to having 3 rinks in front and 2 of them looked to be well placed to bank their points. Sadly the fightback was abruptly stopped in its tracks with Berkshire winning the next 3 ends 7-34, a crushing statement of intent which saw the gap shoot out to 45! Middlesex now had only 2 rinks in front and whilst the points looked secured on 1 the other was being chased down mercilessly.


As the game reached its conclusion Middlesex did manage to stem the Berkshire tide and hold the gap to 45 losing 88-133, gaining only 2 points to Berkshire’s 20.


Top rink, indeed ultimately the only winning rink was Paul Wilsher (West Ealing), Michael Kopp (Uxbridge), Jack Fisher (Rosedale Park) and Tony Waller (Ladygate) who beat that man Knapper’s rink 25-14. Whilst the whole rink did well special plaudits were reserved for young Jack, making his debut at this level he played a positive, almost carefree, game that left his opposition scratching their heads as to how to combat his up and at em approach.


Credit must also go to the rink of Ron Searle (Ashford), Rob Green, Robin Innes and David Ayton (all of West Ealing) who led all the way before being over hauled 18-19 on the final end.


Another debutant on the day, at Home Counties level was the County President Andy Docker.


The days other results saw Sussex beat Buckinghamshire 17-5 and Oxfordshire lose at home to Kent 4-18. Next up for Middlesex is the home game against Kent at West Ealing on July 29th