We carried a posting recently about some of the ideas coming forward to refresh the setup of the Veterans League. This posting suggested a number of changes including changing the scoring system and just as fundamentally a proposed change to the playing format.
A move to playing 10 singles matches instead of the current 4 singles and 3 pairs being suggested. That was assuming that the proposal to move to 8-man teams failed but even if it didn't we can assume that the bid to move to all-singles would still be on the table.
Whilst never one to shirk from change in a sensible cause I have to speak in favour of retaining the current format of Singles and Pairs in league matches. I have a number of reasons for protecting that stance including:
Pairs and Singles in the same team match is unique in local bowling circles and most things that dare to be different need protecting.
Pairs bowling particularly suits aging bowlers when some get to an age where they are less able to bowl and need the assistance of a partner to get through a match.
The pace of a Singles match can be too much for a slow bowler and they become uncomfortable in slowing down the match.
It is a great way to introduce new bowlers to your team by giving them a teammate to see them through the early matches and guide them through match practice whilst an early assessment can be made about their ability to move into Singles can be made.
The same applies to bowlers returning from injury or illness with a more gentle phased return to the sport possible through the Pairs route.
Pairs are usually used for playing the less able bowlers, with the better bowlers traditionally placed in the team Singles and this suits most clubs to differentiate.
Some bowlers no longer feel that they are capable of playing competitive bowling but can prolong their involvement by playing with a more able partner.
If you want to only play Singles matches then there are plenty of leagues around where you can do that but only one league where you can play Pairs as well.
I believe that you would lose a number of bowlers if Pairs were dropped from the playing format and bowling can ill-afford to give any bowler an excuse to retire the way that numbers are reducing so dramatically. Apart from the occasional match I had rarely played Pairs until around 12 months ago and have played nothing else since. It does depend on your playing partner, there has to be a good match, but it can be equally as rewarding to win a good Pairs match as it does a Singles match. You can learn so much from a good partner, knowledge that you can then take into your Singles game in other leagues.
Playing Pairs matches is very different to playing Singles as results from the Bistro KO has taught us over the years with annual giant-killing acts the norm. The best Singles bowlers don't necessarily make the best Pairs team and that allows other types of bowlers to flourish in a different way.
I can see the logic in reducing teams to eight bowlers but cannot support that change either with the 6-Man League waiting to accommodate any team struggling to raise a team of 10 being the logical next step. I think that there could be scope for a Pairs League as there are in many other locations but not in Huddersfield - yet. So for once I am against change and hope that the Veterans League continues to be different for many years to come.