The ultimate prize in game is the county championship. Where a player plays not for themselves, or their club, but for their county. There is no higher honour.
This year’s BCGBA Endsleigh Insurance County Championship starts this Sunday with some intriguing games. The reigning champions are in a group of three so will not start the defence of their trophy till next month.
Potteries v Lancashire
With both counties picking tricky home greens it really will be down to how the away teams adapt. Both these teams have performed well in recent seasons. The Potteries narrowly lost in the final to North Midlands in 2017 and also in the semi-final last year to South Yorkshire with just a handful of points proving decisive in both games, and Lancashire proving to be difficult opponents for anyone.
Potteries have picked Florence, a double All-England venue and home of the Potteries panel, with the top game potentially the best game as Gary Owen plays Chris Cooke.
Lancashire are using the somewhat huge Garswood Hall green with John Crossley leading the way against Joe Williamson.
Derbyshire v North Midlands
North Midlands will be hoping to get back to the form that won them the trophy two years ago. They play a Derbyshire team hoping to get back to winning ways after three defeats last year.
Derby Co-op is the venue for the Derbyshire men with Dan Petcher against Shane Day looking interesting.
North Midlands will be looking for a repeat of last years near 50 point win on Dunlops. Darren Plenderleith leads the way against Jon Guess.
Cheshire v South Yorkshire
South Yorkshire will be hoping to repeat the form they showed last year in reaching the final. They use Dearne Sports again in the first game though will find Cheshire a tough game. Chris Brown playing Tommy Johnstone is a game to watch.
Cheshire was involved in three close games last year and will be aiming for a good result on Rudheath Bowling Club. Danny Nixon against Matt Bower looks tasty.
Cumbria v North Lancs & Fylde
North Lancs & Fylde have a team sheet littered with star names and they will be hoping to take that quality into a potentially tough game against Cumbria.
In what is in effect a local derby the Cumbria men are using North Scale again though will be hoping for a better result than last year. They could only muster four winners on this tough Barrow green against Potteries. They will be hoping that Baz Lowden leads them off well in what could be a quality opening game against Andrew Cairns.
Bamber Bridge Catholic Club is the venue for the North Lancs & Fylde men and will be well known to them all. Simon Coupe is the star name but could have a tough game against Mark Ashburn.
Yorkshire v Shropshire
This is a repeat of the 2016 final where the Yorkshire men were narrow winners.
At Crosland Moor a couple of games stand out. First up is Scott Fisher against Michael Beer and then game 5 sees James Wilcox play Callum Wraight.
Shropshire will hopeful that the tricky Newport green will prove to be a wise choice. Paul Evans takes on last year’s All- England champion Chris Mordue.
Gtr Manchester v Wales
This is a tough opening game in, what could be a close group. Both sides have selected tough home greens.
Gtr Manchester was only defeated by the eventual winners last year and plays a Welsh team anxious to put last year behind them. Ashton Cricket Club is the home venue for the Manchester men with Dean Ferris playing Leighton Roberts the pick of the games.
The fearsome Broughton and Bretton green will be relied upon by the Welsh men to subdue a strong Manchester away side. Jason Jones playing Gary Ellis is probably the pick of the games.
Merseyside v Staffordshire
Last year’s Semi-finalists Merseyside will be hoping to repeat last year’s form and play Staffordshire who are hoping to return to the form they showed in 2016.
The Merseyside men have chosen the tricky artificial green at Mossley Hill Athletic Club. Last year’s Waterloo Handicap runner-up Phil Lee, winner of a number of competitions on the green, leads the way against Nathan Dawes.
Staffordshire are using the trickily paced Hammerwich green where, last year apart, they have played extremely well. Scott Simpson playing Matt Gilmore is probably the pick of the games.
For further details on all games I refer you to the Bowling Results website and the BCGBA Senior County section. Here you can find details of not only this years competition but also over twenty years of information on the ultimate competition in the game.