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Umpires Corner

UMPY'S CORNER

Dear John,

Just wanted to express my admiration for your knowledge and use of the rules of the game.
 
I believe several other parties have also expressed their admiration to the officials at Yallourn today, some verbally and some in writing, I've chosen to share mine with the bowls community, which I think is more effective.

Congratulations on winning your first game today against a noted NSW PL player, quite an achievement. As the marker I would like to express my thanks for your concise questioning following almost every bowl of the match, I'm sure it provided complete clarity for everyone. I'd also like to express my gratitude for your frequent and often surprisingly early visits to the head, a markers job can be lonely after all, so thanks for the company. It was a great win and your grace, humility and sportsmanship to an interstate visitor made me proud to be a Victorian.

I must apologise for upsetting you in our match when I tried to exercise my rights - when the marker and I both said you were holding two shots, you quickly measured and then picked up the jack claiming three, I shouldn't have upset you by pointing out that I wished to measure and would only allow you two shots, obviously poor form on my behalf.

Thanks for giving the marker a lecture on how to correctly spot a jack and judge length, I'm sure that being a newcomer of only 18 years experience he didn't really know what he was doing, and I'm sure he appreciated the advice as much as everyone else on the green did.

I'm 100% sure you got everything right on that end where I mistakenly thought I had four shots, after the marker had written down the score and I picked up the jack, thanks for coming back down from your seat on the bank to call the umpire. You are quite correct I shouldn't have picked up the kitty until I heard you utter your acknowledgement, and I'm completely and totally certain you were correct when you told the umpire that the correct spot for the kitty was actually six foot back up the green next to your two bowls. When you called "Umpire" and then stood six inches from my face saying "I'm going to teach you a effing lesson" you were quite right - as I really did learn something!

So once again congratulations on your section win, judging by conversations after the game I think most observers were as impressed as I was. Apparently you have a well earned reputation around Gippsland, as after the game I was entertained by many tales of your previous deeds from a number of locals, you must be rightly proud to be so well known.

Sincerely,
XXXXXXXX.

Index to Umpy's Articles

1. Some thoughts on improving your game

2. Making a mark

3. Understanding your skip

4. Bias of Bowls

5. Playing with Weight

6. A Question for you all!

7. Dying in the Ditch

8. Umpires

9. Trial Ends Quiz

10. Use of the Mat

11. The Exception Proves the Rule

12. Strange but True!

13. Umpires Revisited!

14. Narrow Bowls

15. Little Known Rules

16. Jack Length

17. Umpires always follow the Rules??

 

Some thoughts on improving your game..

 

1 Just before play in any event, spend at least one minute 'warming up', with stretching exercises for the legs, arms and back; not only will this remove any stiffness in the body it will reduce nervousness before big events and make players more relaxed.

 

2 Trial Ends; make the most of them, they are important. Use them primarily, to get the pace of the Rink, to get your 'length'; once you have your length, adjusting your line is much easier. Always, half the bowls on forehand and half on backhand to allow you to see how each side of the Rink is playing and decide which hand you will play on.

 

3 Tell yourself for every bowl that you are about to deliver, 'this Bowl is the only one I have'. This will help you focus and enforce concentration. If you think, 'well if this bowl is no good, I have 3 more' you will you will not apply your full concentration - and lose accuracy.

 

4 The Skip knows the position of the Head when he leaves it to walk to the mat (note well: the Skip should ALWAYS view the Head from the front of the Head when he leaves it). If while the Skips are in play the Count in the Head changes, it is essential that the Lead (in Pairs) or the Three in Fours tells that Skip, that 'we are now 1 up' or 'we are now down 3' or whatever the change is. Also, they should advise the Skip if there is now a danger on bowling on one hand or the other. You must be the Skip's eyes in the Head.

 

5 You are not playing in the match to represent yourself, you are playing for your team. If you partner or team mate puts down a bad bowl, do not criticise them - it will further reduce their confidence - they already know they have not done well. Encourage them, say something like: 'never mind' or 'you will get it with your next bowl'. Bowls is a team game, always try to support your team mates - no-one means to deliver a bad bowl, but we will always do so, from time to time.

 

Making a Mark!

 

Whenever I see a Singles' match I always observe the Marker - I can't help myself. I am probably looking for tips and good practice that I can incorporate into my Marking, so I thought I would pass on some things which may be useful for less experienced Markers.
Whoever wins the toss has the choice of who has the mat at the first End; make it clear they have a choice of giving the mat away should they wish, by using a phrase such as 'You have choice of mat'.
Whenever the jack is about to be cast stand just in front of the front ditch so that you give no indication of length.
As the jack has been cast walk up the rink so that you are in position to centre it as soon as it comes to rest - unless of course you judge it will come to rest near the front ditch T.
Some Markers like to indicate that the jack has been cast to the T by raising it above their head before placing it - I think that's quite a good idea and helpful to both players.
Always wedge leaning bowls BEFORE you start the Measure, it looks so clumsy to start a Measure and then have to break off to wedge a bowl.
All other things being equal if there is a leaning bowl in a Measure, measure it first, to be on the safe side. yes, I know you had wedged it but......
Be aware that once the last bowl of an End has come to rest either player has the right to wedge ANY bowl for the Measure (the 30 second Rule excepted).
While the match is in progress, carry out arithmetic checks on your Scorecard - the nightmare situation is to find an error when a close game has just been completed! So, after ten Ends or so, just check that the scores of both opponents add up to their current running totals. Also check that the number of scores of both players add up to the current number of Ends completed - to make sure you have not missed a score. Repeat this every six ends or so, it will give you added confidence. .

 

Understanding your Skip!

 

For the benefit of the less experienced players I thought I would try to explain the role of the Skip and the comments he/she makes as your bowls are delivered.
The 3 Roles of the Skip:
Their primary purpose is to allocate blame amongst all team members, except themselves, when things, inevitably, go wrong. This requires years of experience of course.
Secondly, their purpose is to hit your bowl, which by some strange accident has come to rest close to the jack, so that it shoots back 3 metres; this will be accompanied by their comment that your bowl was too short/long/wide/narrow (delete as appropriate).
Their other task is to encourage you and advise you on the final position of your bowl after you have delivered it. To avoid assisting the opposition certain coded phrases are used and I will attempt to explain their true meaning here:
'The first part's good' = it will still probably end in the ditch or next rink anyway.
'The line's good' = the weight is rubbish.
'The weight's good' = the line is rubbish.
'It's not wasted there = the line and weight are rubbish.
'It just got stuck in a straightener' = wrong bias, again.
'Well you bowled' = you got the bias right.
'Good try' = the only thing you are trying is my patience.
'You've covered their back bowls' = The opposition are as bad as you.

 

Have you ever wondered what causes the bias in bowls?

 

Many people assume the bowl is 'weighted' to cause it to change direction. This is not true; a bowl only takes the track it does by the shape across the running surface part, NOTHING ELSE. This shape is like two different sized car tyres mated together, the bigger the difference in size of the 2 tyres the more it will pull around in favour of the smaller wheel. Notwithstanding the small differences the human hand plays out on a green.

Bowls with a very narrow bias have what is called an unbalanced sole - it is less concentric. The greater the unbalance of the sole the more it will go narrower for a player when canted or wobbled on a green. . Wobble your bowl on a green and see if it takes almost the same track as upright, if so it’s balanced.


 

Playing with weight.

 

These range from: kissing a bowl or jack, playing with a 'yard on' to trail the jack to increase my count, playing with controlled weight to move a jack or bowls, to a full blown drive - the latter sometimes called 'firing'. It is this latter which I will cover here.
There is no doubt that bowls is a drawing game - a good draw bowler will always beat a good firer - but it is invaluable, if you play at the back-end, to be able to play weighted bowls. I am told I fire too often, in my opinion many players don't fire enough - is this because they are never taught how to, in their training? Certainly, if you watched the Atlantic Championships you would have seen that all the major teams were not shy about hurling down 'cannonballs'!
But what I do see, in Club events, is what I would call 'hurl and hope' fires! Some just think you have to send the bowl down much faster and that's all there is to it! It may sound a truism but in any weighted shot you need to decide, firstly, what weight you need and then determine how much 'green' you need to give it taking into account the green speed and the bias of your bowls. However fast you fire, there is likely to be some minor bias affect, so take this into account; the faster the delivery the less the bias effect. I know that sounds obvious but I see too many players using firing weight and a drawing line - only for the bowl to sail harmlessly by, wide the head. Also, you will need to determine whether to play forehand or backhand.
You will have to determine your place on the mat; for full blown drives where you will send the bowl virtually in a straight line, stand on your mat as you would if casting a jack, so that the pendulum of your arm comes down in a straight line along the centre of the mat.
Most importantly, when do you choose to fire? To an extent it depends upon your playing ethos. Personally, if I feel drawing close is going to be very difficult or virtually impossible, I consider: the layout of the head, the state of the match and finally the characteristics (bias, turn-in etc) of my bowls and finally my ability - or lack of it - as a draw bowler.
The above comes with a Warning; there is always danger and an element of randomness in result, so fire with care!

 

A question for Umpires and anyone else who cares to answer

 

It is a National Final. It is the 18th end and the score is 17 all - which I know should not affect your decision but.... You are called for a ditch measure, just two bowls in contention; jack and 'blue' bowl in the ditch, 'red' bowl on the green. It is apparent to you that the blue bowl is shot, but you do the right thing; you look to see if it has been marked as a Toucher - it has not. You ask if it has been 'Nominated' and you are told it was not - but both Threes agree it is a Toucher. Do you measure it or not?

I know the 'Book' answer, but what do YOU decide?
 

The Laws are clear on this; if a bowl is in the ditch, has not been marked as a toucher or 'nominated', it is dead and therefore cannot be measured. I posed this question on a bowls website, which is populated my many Umpires, ITOs (International Technical Officers) and experienced bowlers - it has so far resulted in four pages of debate! This is a situation in which the Laws are at variance with fair play and common sense. The consensus of expert opinion is that in the spirit of the Game the bowl should be rules 'in' - after all, Umpires are there to facilitate the game not to be officious.

However, my advice is to make sure touchers are marked as such - you might meet an Umpire who hasn't read the website ;-)

 

DYING IN THE DITCH

 

A personal tale! I was fortunate enough to be asked to Umpire at the Atlantic Championships; working with ITOs (International Technical Officers - sort of Super Umpires) from all over the world - as fellow Umpires or as Markers. 13 nations were competing.
I was not nervous, I know (nearly) all the Laws of the Game and am confident with my measuring, what could go wrong? All went well in the first week but on the first End of a 9am session, in the second week, I was called on for a ditch measure. Clearly, the oil in my brain gearbox had not warmed up! I will throw a veil over the errors I made - the only saving grace was that I came to the right decision. At lunchtime, I returned to the Umpire's room and confessed all - expecting scorn and denigration to be poured upon me - but to my surprise the attitude was ' Look, we all make mistakes, learn from it and move on'
Early next morning I as at Neo's practising such measures! Fortunately, my performance over the eleven 3 1/2 hour sessions went well. I learned a great deal working with the experienced guys and girls over the two weeks - and had fun doing it!
So the moral of this tale is, most of us don't get everything right every time - but learn your lesson and don't repeat the mistake.

 

Umpires

So what does an Umpire do? Stands round trying to look impressive? Look authoritative when measuring? Well no, there is a little more to it than that.

 

Before the event he/she will read the Conditions of Play (CoP), which may include some allowable variations from Crystal Mark Laws, so they fully understand the Conditions under which that particular even will be played.

They will get to the venue at least an hour before the event; possibly they will check Rink and Boundary markers if they have an assistant. They will check that all ‘equipment’ is in place – the ‘biscuits’ (the indicators of bowls/jack in the ditch), the 2m pole, scoreboards etc.

 

Next they will lay out their own equipment; I carry on my person: 2 x sets of wedges, box measure, feeler gauges and white strips, string measure, boundary string, callipers, a piece of chalk and, most importantly a copy of the Laws. By the side of the green I keep a 30m tape, a set square, pens and spray chalk – for forgetful Markers!

 

Next check all competitors’’ bowls/stickers to ensure they comply with Crystal Mark Laws. Competitors place them on the bank, the Umpire checks them, puts on a chalk mark and places them on the Green so that the Umpire knows which sets have been checked. Well, that’s the theory! Usually many players place their bowls to cause maximum confusion and then place towels on them (to keep their bowls cool?).

 

Now Trial Ends; a chance to relax? Er..no, the Game has not began but the Umpire should be looking out for potential Foot Faulters. While the Game is underway the Umpire adopts two modes: firstly, looking out for obvious breaches of the Law and secondly, for potential "Calls".

 For example, if you see Touchers and/or the jack in the ditch or two ‘opposing’ bowls close to the jack and apparently equidistant to it, to it is likely you will be called to that Rink, so the Umpire should position themselves close by to save time should they be called. By the way, if when you do call an Umpire you can give some indication of the nature of the call, it is helpful as they may need equipment not carried on their person.

 

During the match, the Umpire should circulate (NEVER sitting down) avoiding walking past the ‘head’ when anyone is on the mat and, greatest danger of all, getting involved watching a particularly interesting match!

 

Finally, the Umpire checks that all score cards have been completed properly (correct arithmetic, signed by both Skips and a ‘time’ entered), packs up all their equipment and heads off home.

 

So you know all about Trial Ends?     A mini quiz for the less experienced bowler.

 

 
YOU WIN THE TOSS SO YOU CAST THE JACK AND BOWL FIRST? YES/NO?

 

The answer is: 'maybe'! By winning the toss you have the right to decide whether you - or your opponent should cast the jack and bowl first. If you decide to 'give the mat away', then your opponent will also cast the jack and bowl first on the first live end. Best check with your Skip first before giving the mat away!

 

YOU MAY USE 3 BOWLS ON THE TRIAL END? YES/NO?

 

Unless the Conditions of Play of the particular competition you are in says otherwise, you may us the same number of bowls in a Trial End, as you will in live play. So, 3 bowls in a Triple, 2 bowls in a Team of Four, 2 or 4 bowls as appropriate in a Singles competition.

 

ALL BOWLS USED MUST BE FROM A MATCHING SET? YES/NO?

 

You may use bowls from different sets, perhaps to determine which bowls will perform best on that particular green.

 

THE JACK MUST BE SET ON THE CENTRE LINE AT A DISTANCE FROM THE MAT AS IT WAS ORIGINALLY CAST? YES/NO?
 

No, you can cast the jack and your Skip can centre it at any distance he chooses from the mat; often placing on the T so that the speed/swingingness of the full length of the green can be judged.

 

BEFORE DELIVERY AT LEAST ONE FOOT SHOULD BE FULLY ON THE MAT AND ALL OR PART OF A FOOT SHOULD BE ON OR OVER THE MAT AT THE POINT OF DELIVERY? YES/NO?

 

Actually, no; it is not possible to Foot Fault during Trial Ends; indeed you don't even have to stand on the mat to deliver your bowl, you may choose to stand in front or behind the mat - or even to the side of it - though that would be an eccentric choice!

 

Why do some of these laws seem different from those normally applied during Play? The answer is that the Game 'does not start until delivery of the jack on the first live End', so Trial Ends are played before the Game actually commences.

 

Use of the Mat

 

I thought I would offer my thoughts on the use of the mat during delivery. (Caveat emptor: I am not a Coach and should you need advice on improving your game or a health check on your delivery, approach one of the Club’s Coaches, who will be pleased to help)

 

What I notice, or rather what I do not notice, is players making use of the width of the mat to alter their delivery angle; the mat is 360mm (14”) wide, so why not make use of all of it? I find there are three circumstances when it is helpful to be able to alter the angle of delivery – in the following examples I am assuming RH delivery.

 

1) Let us assume you need to bowl backhand round a wide bowl to get to the jack. You are concerned that the wide angle you need to miss the blocking bowl will mean that you will end up wide of the jack. Rather than stand in the position you always use (the one you were taught as a beginner!) stand with your left foot off the mat with your right foot at the back of the mat and on the left edge of it. This will reduce your angle of delivery and give you a greater chance of getting to your target.

 

2) Imagine you are on a wide swinging rink but that when you bowled wide, your bowl would bog down in one of tramlines we have on the boundary lines between rinks, delaying the effect of the bias causing your bowl to end ‘wide’. Assuming you are bowling forehand, stand at the front of the mat with your left foot off the mat and your right foot on the left edge of the mat, now use a slightly narrower aiming point. This should allow you to avoid the tramline and the wider angle you bowl at, will offset the narrower aiming point, allowing an easier draw to the jack.

 

3) You want to fire or play a fast ‘runner’? As your aiming point will be close to the centre line (the speed of the bowl meaning there will be little bias effect) the arc of your arm during delivery will be similar to (but not the same as) casting the jack, that is along the centre line of the mat. So, whether delivery is forehand or backhand, left foot off the mat, right foot to the left of the centre line of the mat and away you go. NB this does not apply to ‘yard on’ shots where, you will adopt your normal delivery position.

 

In using the above, don’t forget the Foot Fault Laws; before delivery: one foot should be fully on the mat, at the moment of delivery: all or part of one foot should be on or above the mat.

 

The Exception proves the Rule!

 

To make the Umpire's life more interesting - for which read 'more difficult' - there are a number of exceptions to several of the Laws of the game.
Firstly, 'you cannot move the mat after the first bowl has been delivered'; well it's true you cannot change the distance from the Mat Line, but there are circumstances where the mat can be adjusted laterally;
i) if the mat is displaced
ii) if the mat is not straight it can be straightened
iii) if the mat is off-centre it can be centred
iv) if a player picks up the mat before the end is completed, an opposing player must replace it in its former position
v) if a bowl from a neighbouring rink, which is on its correct bias, is likely to hit the mat then any player can lift if so that the bowl passes underneath - and subsequently replace it in its original position.
Here's another one: if you cast the jack and it rebounds onto the Rink after hitting the face of the front ditch it is dead, but there are circumstances where a rebounding jack can be live:
i) if a jack at rest is struck is struck by a bowl, hits the bank and rebounds onto the rink
ii) if a live jack in the ditch is hit by a toucher and rebounds back onto the rink
If a bowl strikes the face of the front ditch and rebounds onto the rink, it is dead, however, if it is a toucher, then it remains live.
When you are about to measure a leaning bowl you must always wedge it; well..er..not always, here is an exception:
Imagine you wish to measure a boundary bowl (a bowl which may be live on the boundary line) which is leaning on a dead bowl from your rink. You do NOT wedge the leaning bowl, you remove the dead bowl, which may well cause the leaning bowl to roll out of play onto the adjoin rink.
Strange but true!

 

Strange but True

 

While the Laws of Bowls are restrictive about items of equipment being used - for example if the final bowl has not yet been delivered you cannot place any item between the jack and a bowl to gauge who is holding shot - there are situations where you can use equipment to assist you; perhaps they have never occurred to you.

We are lucky with our Green in that the Rinks are spotted to indicate the 2 metre Mat Line (the 'T') and the minimum 25 metre mark, but there are Greens in Cyprus where this aid is not available but - help is at hand.
Say you want to place the mat as close the the rear ditch (the one behind you) as possible, there is no reason at all why you cannot use the 2 metre 'stick' to guide you in placing the mat.
A slightly more unusual case; let us say that both you and the opposing Lead cast illegal jacks (i.e. less than 23m or in the ditch or off the rink of play), the jack will be spotted on the far 'T' as you know, and it will be your turn to cast the jack once you have placed the mat. There is no Law which prevents you from using a 30m tape to measure, say, 25m from the front ditch so that you have a 'guaranteed' minimum length jack. Strange but true!

 

Umpires

 

Many of our less experienced bowlers will have had little contact with Umpires - you know, those fearsome officials in their bright red shirts! So I thought i would tell you a little about the range of equipment they carry and how they use it.
Starting with the closest measures (measures up to 2cm) , Feeler Gauges are used with small white strips placed on the green under the 'gaps' between bowl and jack to make adjudging shot easier. They are not the easiest piece of equipment to use; measures are made by following the gauge down the perimeter of the bowl i.e. not straight down. Always the bowl is touched, not the jack - as the latter is more easily moved.
Next up, Calipers (measures 2-30cm), much easier to use; again the Caliper leg touches the bowl rather than the jack in the initial measure; in using these and when using Feeler Gauges, the Umpire will rest their arms/hands on the ground for greater stability.
OK, you will be familiar with the Box String Measure, (30cm-3M) used for day to day measuring between jack and bowls; most Umpires and Markers will use the slightly taller measures with 10/11' strings which provide slightly more accuracy. These are used for 90% of measures, with wedges as necessary of course! Umpires and Markers will always wedge leaning bowls when measuring - even if the players on TV do not!
Now we get on to the Long String Measure, not the easiest item to use but a most flexible tool It can be used for extremely long measures up to 5 meters - or even longer with modification. It is a single string with one fixed pointer and a second pointer which can be slid along the string. It is used for virtually all ditch measures (one or more bowls or jack in the ditch); the only rare exception is when a Caliper can be used to better effect.
So that's what the Umpire carried, along with a copy of Crystal Mark, of course! No Umpire can remember all the Laws. What do they keep in their case on the green surround?
Firstly, the 30 Meter Tape used for measuring cast jack length (min. 23M) and more rarely: minimum distance of a live bowl (14M from Mat Line) or rebounding jack (20M from Mat line).
The Long String Measure (40M) is used as a boundary line measure - to determine whether a bowl or jack is still within the boundary of the rink.
Finally, a set square, best with a liquid level display; these are used on rare occasions for tricky ditch measures to determine whether the jack or bowl is still in the rink of play - or sometimes in conjunction with the Long String when judging boundary bowls and jacks.
Some Umpires will also have a set of 'lollipops, sometimes used in major events to show who is holding what and the final Count on an end.

Narrow Bowls

 

There has much controversy, lately, regarding narrow bowls - that is bowls with a minimum bias. Traditionalists with their Henselite Classics and Taylor Lignoids are aghast at the upstarts with their Dreamlines and Vectors! So how has this come about?
Much of the protest has come within the UK where players have adopted bowls intended for the fast, swinging Australian and New Zealand greens on the slow British Rinks, resulting in bowls being delivered with little bias.
Given that the World Reference Bowl (WRB) which World Bowls provides to all licensed Manufacturers and Testers has changed little, if at all, since the 1990s how come Manufacturers' bowls - which must have a bias not less than the WRB - are getting narrower than ever? Some suggest it is because the current testing regime is inadequate, Bowls are tested by running the WRB down a chute and along a testing table; a Manufacturer's bowls is then put through the procedure and its bias compared with the WRB. However, it is said that if the Manufacturer's bowl is canted slightly to one side on the shoot (the so called 'wobble test'), it produces a much tighter line than the WRB. Also, should the WRB be compared with some current bowls on a Rink, rather than a testing table, the Manufacturer's bowl would run tighter.
I see no easy solution but World Bowls are aware of the issue and will, no doubt, soon have a solution

Little Known Rules

 

We have been very lucky over the last year or so with many new members joining us and working really hard on their game, becoming very skilful bowlers. However, many lack competition experience - though that will come - and knowledge of the Laws of the game. This knowledge can be important in national and inter-club events; lack of knowledge can cost you success, so I thought I would write an occasional series of pieces regarding the Laws. I don't expect anyone to spend their days like me, reading Crystal Mark! (Webmasters comment:  Sad)

 

Firstly, a couple of things which came to my notice over the last month or so, where there was a clear misunderstanding of the Laws.

 

a) You deliver your bowl, it runs wide onto the adjoin Rink and hits either a stationary bowl or one being delivered in the opposite direction by a player on that Rink. While your bias was correct it is obvious your bowl would not have returned onto your Rink even without the contact. What happens next?
The answer is, it is not relevant whether the bowl would have come back onto your Rink or not, providing it was on the correct bias, it is regarded as a bowl that in its original course has been displaced by a neutral object - and should be re-delivered. (Should the bowl have returned to your Rink and disturb the head, that is another matter!).

 

b) Your opponent bowls out of turn, do you know what options you have?
Quite a few, in fact:
The opposing Skip and stop it and return it so that it is subsequently played in the right order.
If it comes to rest without disturbing the head, the opposing Skip can choose whether to leave the bowl as it is and then get his team to bowl twice to get back in the correct order OR return the bowl and get back to the proper order of play.
If it comes to rest having disturbed the head, it gets really complicated; the opposing Skip can choose whether to:

 

i) leave the head as it is and get his team to bowl twice, so that the correct order is restored OR
ii) replace the head as it was, return the bowl and get back to the proper order of play OR
iii) declare the end dead.
 

Finally, a tricky (not trick) question; 'as soon as a bowl comes to rest, possession of the Rink always passes immediately to the opposing team', Right? Well, generally YES, but in the case of a toucher, possession does not pass until time has been allowed for marking the toucher.

No you don't need to learn all the Laws, but in cases of doubt, always call the Umpire, that's what they are there for.

Jack Length

 

I heard someone at the club say, recently, 'your line is always the same irrespective of jack length'; well that is true, providing the mat stays the same distance from the back ditch - though many people are not aware of it.  However, if the mat is moved up or down, then you do need to adjust your line.  This should explain it:  

In theory, the angle on which your bowl must be sent out, is exactly the same for all lengths of jack. All that changes is the weight and you need to develop a feel for that. Nobody can teach you weight, but with practice one learns to experience it and the most proficient can reproduce it to order !

With regard to the line however it is possible to learn some tips, and the most important for me is to learn the geometry of "similar triangles". This is so simple and really quite intuitive.

 

Consider the following diagram :-

 





The jack lengths here are exactly the same from the mat of the same letter.

B is a point on the bank such that if you deliver a bowl from Mat A at the right weight towards B its bias will take it to Jack A.

If the mat is moved nearer to the bank to Mat X then you need to send your bowl out at the same weight towards the point Y on the bank so that its bias will take it to Jack X.

ABZ and XYZ are similar triangles, AB and XY being at precisely the same angle to the centre line of the rink. This would be true even if the jack lengths were different, only the weight of delivery changes.

This shows that as the mat moves closer to the bank, you need to find an aiming point on the bank which is closer to the centre line and vice versa.
How you do that is for you to decide each time but with practice you may find you naturally adopt the correct angle stance on the mat and can gauge a point on the bank to suit.

 

Umpires always follow the Laws of the Sport as written in Crystal Mark, right??

 

Well, not always, but they have to be very clear in their mind that deviating from the Laws is right, and seen by others to be right. Lets look at a few examples, the first from a Bowls Cyprus Finals day, a few years back.

 

It was the Men's 4 bowl singles; each player, after delivering their bowl would walk to the head, to follow it. The Law says that this should not be done until they have delivered their third bowl. When the Umpire was asked about this he said, "They are both doing it and neither has complained, so why should I interfere in their game?

 

A theoretical example: we all know that an un-chalked or un-nominated bowl in the ditch is "dead". Lets say an Umpire is called to a ditch measure and spots such a bowl. If both opponents assure him the bowl is a "toucher", would it be just for the Umpire to follow the letter of the Laws and declare it dead? Not really, so common sense should come into play and  he should accept it as live.

 

Another situation: two opponents are measuring shots and, so far it is 2 shots to Team A. Suddenly, a bowl from an adjoining rink, enters the head and moves the Jack. If players cannot agree where it should be replaced the Law says the End should be declared "dead", however this is hardly fair on Team A, and I suggest the just decision would be 2 shots to Team A on this end.

 

So, Laws should work side by side with common sense, but the Umpire should always be aware of all factors when deviating from the Laws. Perhaps the acid test is: What is the fairest decision to take!