King makes progress in Fred.Olsen Cruise Lines World Indoor Singles Championship

Mervyn King in action on Tuesday.

Mervyn King in action on Tuesday. - Credit: James Bass

Mervyn King turned on a right royal performance on the portable rink at Potters Leisure Resort in Hopton-on-Sea on Tuesday, when he kept his fans happy, and qualified for the second round of the Fred.Olsen Cruise Lines world indoor singles championship.

After beating former World Bowls Tour star Les Gillett, who was threatening to make a comeback after slipping out of the rankings, in straight sets, 9-6, 12-3, King sat back in his chair and said: “It was one of those days when I felt I could do anything.”

The 46-year-old estate manager from Fakenham added: “If the marker told me my previous bowls was eight inches short, I was confident that I could draw around it. It was just as well, because Les is a dangerous opponent, and is capable of beating anyone on his day.”

Gillett, who rocketed to fame in 1997, when, as a PBA qualifier and rank outsider, he beat four world champions on his way to winning the International Open title at his first attempt, was full of praise for the way Gallow Bowls Club ace King played.

“Even if I had been at my very best, I don’t think I could have lived with Mervyn today,” he said. “He didn’t give me an inch, and seemed able to beat anything I did.”

The first set was highly competitive, but King, who is known as the grinder, wore Gillett down to win it by three shots, before taking control in the second set.

Norfolk’s elation at their hero’s success soon turned to dismay, when King’s former Gallow clubmate, Jamie Chestney, now living in Devon, failed to live up to his billing, and crashed out in straight sets against Welsh veteran John Price, who won, 8-4, 9-3.

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At 50, Price is hanging on to his place in the top 16, but was thought to be vulnerable against the 26-year-old Chestney, who bagged a bronze medal in the recent world outdoor championships in Adelaide last month, and was a wildcard entry to this event.

In a disappointing evening encounter, Chestney seemed to lack confidence in the draw, and was off target when he resorted to the drive. Over the match, he simply delivered too many short bowls, while Price merely had to play a tidy game to get through.

“It’s so disappointing,” admitted Chestney. “I think that’s five first rounds I’ve lost in a row, and I must consider what to do about it – it just isn’t good enough. Everyone says the lines are tricky this year, but I have no excuse – I was dreadful.”

King now faces the winner of Jonathan Ross and Pat Briscoe on Wednesday.

n King and Simon Skelton lost 5-7, 8-7, 2-1, in the semi finals of the pairs championship on Monday.