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Should we have a 35m long mark rule?

Winter League

Jim Baxter of Milnsbridge BC bowls in one of the Lancashire leagues for Dobcross and he once told me about a local rule that had been applied in that league. This rule introduced a maximum length of the 35-metre mark for the jack. This is in addition to the standard 19-metre short mark limit.

This came back to me when I was watching a Division 3 match at Thorpe Green last Monday when Allan Hobson and I were watching a lady bowler who was really struggling to reach the long marks her male opponent was setting. In fact she never seemed to reach more than two-thirds of the distance of the diagonal corner-to-corner tactic he used. It looked like it was equally embarrassing for her opponent but he has a duty to his team. We really felt for the lady bowler and no-one could blame her if she decided to stop bowling because of the difficulty she had in reaching these long marks. It would be to no one's advantage to lose otherwise keen and able bowlers from our league quite apart from the emotional and social damage such an outcome could provoke.

Eventually the game ended 21-2 and neither bowler came off the green with any degree of satisfaction. Then Alan reminded me about the 35-metre mark that Jim had told us both about some while ago and we decided that this was worth considering further.

Alan loaded up his impressive scientific calculator app on his phone, tapped a few keys and announced that the full corner to corner run on the 40m x 40m Thorpe Green green would be 57-metres long. Two-third distance would be around 38-metres so a 35-metre maximum mark would have made a big difference to the game we were watching.

Winter League bowling is quite different to a summer competition as you only get fast greens when they are frozen and boy do they zip through then! So bowlers are going to encounter heavy slow greens more frequently during the winter months. This places some of our lady bowlers at a distinct disadvantage as fully exploited in the game I watched this week. It is not only the ladies of course as many of our male members can struggle, the older they get the harder it becomes to reach long marks. Sometimes you can reach but the extra effort involves means you can lose your direction. So should we be looking to even things up a little?

Now to introduce a maximum mark of 35 metres for some of the bowlers would be very insulting. Remember this rule would apply to all games if such a rule was implemented. But why shouldn't we introduce the rule into the bottom division only? Not to be insulting but this is where we are likely to find the weaker bowlers who may have lost some of their strength and cannot reach the long marks. Is it worth taking any further? Would bowlers support a one-year trial of playing games in our bottom division when a bowler could call for the long tape if they thought a lead exceeded the 35-metre mark? Would you support such a move? Tell us what you think.

Whilst I am on about new rules I am aware that our Chairman is keen for a new start time for matches. When the league started we always thought that to finish by 3.00pm would enable all the grandparents among the teams with grandchild care responsibilities free to ensure that they were at the school gates to collect their grandchildren at the end of the school day. Although that is often the case sometimes games can drag on, especially the pairs games. Is it worth considering bringing start times forward 30minutes to 11.30am? Tell us what you think.

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Jan 29, 2022

A 35 metre maximum length is a difficult one. On the one hand it would be helpful for those bowlers struggling to play corner to corner but how many bowlers bowl the whole game corner to corner ? I suggest very few.

And how many bowlers can’t bowl corner to corner ? I suggest it’s a minority.

So, the question is, Do you have rules for the minority or for the majority. I suggest the latter.

As a final comment, I’d like to think that most of us , particularly playing a lady and realising that she just couldn’t play corner to corner would ease up a bit and play a shorter mark. There’s no fun in playing corner t…


Karen Rausse
Karen Rausse
Jan 29, 2022

So sorry to hear your news Michelle, R.I.P. Tony

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