Teams named for Hong Kong and Merdeka internationals
NSW’s Mathew Pietersen will enjoy a baptism by fire after being named to make his international debut in Hong Kong later this year. The 25-year-old Cabramatta ace is among a contingent of four Australian Jackaroos confirmed to have booked their boarding pass to the Hong Kong International Bowls Classic by the national selection panel today. Staged from November 8 to 16, the Hong Kong International Bowls Classic will feature men’s and women’s singles and the blue-ribbon pairs. Also granted the chance to chase glory on the world stage at the event are fellow Blues’ Kelsey Cottrell, 23, and Matthew Baus, 25, and Victorian Carla Odgers, 24. While Odgers and Cottrell will remain resolute in their preparations for the upcoming 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, as part of the 17-strong Australian Bowls Team in able-bodied and para-sport disciplines, the announcement is somewhat of a silver lining for Pietersen and Baus. The selection marks a sensational return to favour for the highly regarded Pietersen, following his recall to the sport’s main high performance squad, the Australian Jackaroos, in March after a two-year exile, while Baus will be provided the opportunity to add to his 13 international appearances after narrowly missing a Commonwealth Games berth. While the nation’s four hopefuls boast a youthful average age of 24, the players entrusted have a proven track record in the Pearl of the Orient. Cottrell became the first women in the event’s history to claim three pairs titles last year, after victories in 2009 and 2010, and will enter the event alongside Odgers as early favourites as they embark on a campaign to defend their crown, a task no one has accomplished since 2001. Baus is also familiar with what lies ahead, having secured the men’s pairs trophy in 2012 alongside Barrie Lester, and also finished with a silver-medal in the singles to his national teammate. National Coach Steve Glasson said he is confident the players can replicate the success of previous years. “It’s just reward for the four players who have been selected, in particular Mathew (Pietersen), who has been knocking down the door of selection for a number of years,” Glasson said. “We place a great deal of importance on international representation and selecting the right candidates for the task, and we’re confident the four players we have identified are more than up for the challenge.” Following on from the announcement, the national selection panel also confirmed the combatants picked for the now non-capped Asia Pacific Merdeka Championships in Malaysia. Held at the Bayuemas Bowls Stadium from September 28 to October 4, the US$30,000 tournament will see this year’s Australian Open singles and fours champion Anne Johns and former Australia A squad member Ben Twist tasked with the coveted singles roles. Queensland’s Kristy Thatcher and ACT’s runner-up National Male Bowler of the Year Andrew Howie have been named in the mixed pairs discipline, and all four will line-up in the mixed fours. Hong Kong International Bowls Classic November 8 to 16 Carla Odgers (24, Lalor, Victoria) and Kelsey Cottrell (23, St Johns Park, NSW) Matthew Baus (25, Raymond Terrace, NSW) and Mathew Pietersen (25, Cabramatta, NSW) Asia Pacific Merdeka Championships September 28 to October 4 Women’s Singles – Anne Johns Men’s Singles – Ben Twist Mixed Pairs – Kristy Thatcher & Andrew Howie Mixed Fours – Kristy Thatcher, Anne Johns, Andrew Howie and Ben Twist Caption: Kelsey Cottrell and Carla Odgers have been granted the chance to defend their pairs title in Hong Kong later this year.