In a coup for the sport of bowls, Bowls Australia has today announced that there will be an additional $100,000 Australian Premier League staged each year – although the competition will undergo a name change moving forward.
The event formerly known as the Australian Premier League, which is approaching its fourth staging at Brisbane’s Club Pine Rivers in November, will also be held across the ditch, with Auckland, New Zealand chosen as the host venue for the fifth event in February 2017.
The night-time televised matches will be staged at North Shore Events Centre, the home of the New Zealand Breakers men’s basketball team, while the preceding daily non-broadcast rubbers will conveniently be played next door at Sunnybrae Bowling Club, from February 27 to March 2.
As a result of the additional international leg, the competition has been rebranded, and will now be known as the Bowls Premier League.
Bowls Australia Chief Executive Officer Neil Dalrymple said that the name-change not only makes the event more distinguishable in overseas markets but could also make the team licenses more attractive to international buyers in future years.
“While the competition has boasted international qualities over the last three years, including having the New Zealand Blackjacks as part of the event and some of the sport’s best international exports sprinkled throughout the other teams, with the event now also being staged abroad it makes sense to brand the competition accordingly,” Dalrymple said.
“The Premier League has done a fantastic job of providing a fast paced, exciting, modern and attractive format of bowls to new audiences to encourage social participation and provides unprecedented coverage to promote the sport through the live broadcast component.
“We’ve already had expressions of interest from international teams, and with the addition of a second BPL event overseas, boasting more prize money, more coverage and more sponsorship opportunities, the prospect of owning a team is even more lucrative to international buyers.
“New Zealand is primed to be a fantastic host for the sport’s most exciting competition, and I acknowledge and thank Bowls NZ for their progressive planning and contribution in establishing the second series.”
The addition of the second event ensures twice the amount of Fox Sports Australia and Sky Sport NZ broadcast hours, bringing the total amount of live coverage to 40 hours across both tournaments, plus additional replays.
It also gives the eight licensed teams a chance to compete for a total of $200,000 in prize money inside a four-month window.
In a triumph for gender diversity and equality in sport, all eight teams will now boast at least one female member in their three-player team roster, after the BPL management committee adjusted the conditions of play to stipulate at least one player of each gender.
All eight licensed teams have re-signed for a further three years in the competition, and have declared their hands; confirming who has been granted the honour the donning their guernseys for the next staging at Club Pine Rivers.
The reigning champions New Zealand Blackjacks have selected the same composition, with Jo Edwards, Shannon McIlroy and Ali Forsyth tasked with defending their crown.
Three-time runner-ups Adelaide Endurance have added Breeanna Dickson, 21, to their make-up in an attempt to claim a maiden crown, alongside world champion Wayne Ruediger and Australian Jackaroo Max Kleinig.
The 2013 inaugural champions, Brisbane Gold, have retained the services of crowd favourite Kelvin Kerkow, who is joined by one-time Australian representative Sean Baker and dual female bowler of the year Natasha Scott.
Expansion team and 2014 winners Murray Steamers have added 2015 Australian Open women’s singles champion Ellen Ryan to their make-up, with Australia’s male bowler of the year Ryan Bester and Victorian representative Michael Walker both back for their third attempt.
The Perth Suns are another team to add a highly regarded young Australian Jackaroo player to their contingent, with Kristina Krstic earning a berth alongside fellow BPL rookie Pieter Harris, and incumbent Tom Mitchell.
The Gold Coast Hawks have welcomed back the services of Australian Jackaroos Captain Lynsey Clarke, after she missed last year’s event due to the birth of her first child, who slots in alongside her Club Helensvale and international teammates Brett Wilkie and Nathan Rice.
The Sydney Lions have regained Karen Murphy, having missed last year on international duties, with Aron Sherriff and Ben Twist set to return in a formidable line-up.
The Melbourne Roys have added a second local Fitzroy Victoria Bowls and Sports Club player to their composition, in Australian Open women’s fours and under-18 girls’ singles winner Tiffany Brodie, who takes to the greens alongside club mate Dylan Fisher and Jackaroo Aaron Wilson.
BPL04 will be held at Club Pine Rivers from November 8 to 11, with live Fox Sports Australia and Sky Sports from 5pm-10pm AEST each night.
BPL05 is set to be staged at North Shore Events Centre and Sunnybrae Bowling Club, from February 27 to March 2.