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Commonwealth shortlist raises hopes for Kings four

By Herald Express  |  Posted: April 10, 2014

TESTER:  Natalie Melmore, in action in last year's Eight Nations championships which were a test event in Glasgow

TESTER: Natalie Melmore, in action in last year's Eight Nations championships which were a test event in Glasgow

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NATALIE Melmore believes there is a 'great chance' she and her three Kings Bowling Club team-mates can make the Commonwealth Games squad after all four were named on the shortlist this week.

The inclusion of Melmore, her fiancee Jamie Chestney, Sam Tolchard and Sophie Tolchard on this week's shortlist of 13 players – seven men and six women – came as no great surprise.

The only shock was the omission of Amy Gowshall from the women's ranks – but she had declared herself unavailable for Glasgow due to family commitments.

The final team of five men and five women will be confirmed at the end of May, once several further selection events have been played.

Among them is a squad weekend at Bolton BC in Lancashire on May 9-11, followed by a programme of test matches at Kelvingrove, where the Commonwealth Games lawn bowls events will be held.

Melmore her selection could not have been taken for granted, not least as she doesn't play regularly indoors.

"The selection criteria is based on past performances and how people have done outdoors, and as I don't play indoors it's been a while since I've had a chance to prove my worth," she said.

"You never know what the selectors are thinking, but I think it is as much about compatibility as anything else, and Sophie [Tolchard] and myself play together and Sam [Tolchard] and Jamie [Chestney] play together.

"I just hope that stage two of the selection process goes as well as stage one!"

Melmore also acknowledges that if all four are chosen for Glasgow, it will soon be picked up as a big story.

"I hope so," she said.

"I think we've got great talent in Devon, but the step up from county to national and international is massive, and to have four players from one club I'm 99 per cent certain hasn't happened before.

"Plus it's a brother and sister and a couple, so from a human interest point of view there lots of things to it – I do hope it's a big story."

She added: "I think there's a great chance of all four of us making the team, and if one of us didn't make it, it would be upsetting.

"I've grown up with Sam and Sophie, and obviously Jamie is my fiancee, so it would be great for us all to be in the same team."

The full list of seven men are: Stuart Airey (Cumbria), Jamie Chestney (Devon), Andrew Knapper (Berkshire), John McGuinness (Buckinghamshire), Robert Newman (Berkshire), Robert Paxton (Devon) and Sam Tolchard (Devon).

The six women shortlisted are Ellen Falkner (Cambridgeshire), Sian Gordon (Sussex), Wendy King (Kent); Natalie Melmore (Devon); Sophie Tolchard (Devon) and Jamie Lea Winch (Warwickshire).

John Bell, England's Lawn Bowls Performance Director, said: "The final shortlist has been named following much discussion about performances at various playing events including the National Championships, the respective British Isles International Series, Eight Nations Tournament and overseas events, together with consideration of the physiological and psychological workshops attended by various players."

By ANDY PHILLIPS

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