With Pennant season well underway, I thought it might be interesting to ask club members for their reaction to arm bowlers competing at the top divisions in Pennants. My experience in this area has been mixed. In the lower divisions, it is not uncommon for arm bowlers to be strongly represented and most teams accept that these club bowlers are perfectly entitled to play Pennants. There are some non-arm bowlers who still refer openly to opposition team players as having the “cheating stick”!
As covered previously in many articles, this view is borne out of ignorance and a convenient memory loss that the great majority of arm bowlers were competent or even highly skilled players prior to adopting the arm. The other main category are players who need the arm due to medically diagnosed physical conditions and who have every right to continue playing and represent their club in Pennants.
When the Australian Team were in training for the recent World Championships in NZ, I was fortunate to meet and observe them at Pine Rivers Club in Brisbane. I asked several team members, both male and female, if they could envisage competing at this level against an Arm bowler. They unanimously agreed that subject to the accepted selection process, they would happily compete against an arm bowler at national and international level.
I am not too sure what the exact ruling is from Bowls Australia, but I took great comfort from these top international players respecting the right of an arm bowler, being given the opportunity to compete at the highest level. That said, I believe many clubs would not support this and exclude arm bowlers from their Division 1 and 2 Pennant teams, to avoid any suggestion from opposition teams of having arm bowlers with their “cheating sticks” give them an unfair advantage!
It would be great to hear from arm bowlers who currently represent their club, district or higher using a bowling arm. Are they experienced bowlers transitioning through age or injury to an arm? Has the arm actually improved their game or would they be selected with or without an arm?
Hopefully also hear from fair-minded bowlers happy to compete against arm bowlers in competitions at all levels?
THE BIONIC BOWLER