It is not often that you have the opportunity to learn a skill from the country’s best exponent of it, but that is exactly what about 20 lawn bowlers experienced on Friday.
Barrie Lester, Australia’s top-ranked lawn bowler, took a demo day at East Shepparton Bowling Club and showcased exactly why he is one of the best players in the world within a minute of standing on the mat.
Lester, as part of his work as state manger for Aero Bowls, demonstrated his skill with the product by putting two bowls within a couple of feet on the jack in no time — on a green he has rarely stepped on.
‘‘I’m just here today (Friday) to show the locals a bit more about the Aero products and give them some coaching tips, and I suppose just share some of my thoughts about how they can improve as a player and as a club,’’ he said.
‘‘There’s some things that I’ve learnt off of experts over the years, which I’ve taken in and thought well there’s no point me keeping this to myself.’’
Unlike most sportspeople, Lester does not usually get bogged down in superstition, but still has a couple of quirks to his game.
‘‘I must admit that if I play unbelievably well, the next day I might wear the same socks again,’’ he said.
‘‘The other one is I definitely, definitely make my bed before a match, maybe not everyday, but definitely if I’m going off to play a big game.’’
Lester has a strong connection to the Goulburn Valley as he is great mates with East Shepparton coach Josh Thornton, and the pair recently took home a national title together at the Australian Open.
With next year’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games looming fast on the horizon, Lester hoped the duo would again be able to compete together at Broadbeach Bowling Club’s greens.
‘‘Hopefully Josh is there and I can make an appearance myself,’’ he said.
Bowlers looking to steer clear of Lester at November’s Victorian Open in Shepparton and surrounds would be advised to stick to the singles draw, as the star is unlikely to suit up.
‘‘I’ll try my best, it’s a wonderful event and the numbers are always great, the greens are really good and to think that players travel from all around Australia to compete is a credit to Bowls Victoria and the Greater City of Shepparton,’’ he said.
‘‘I don’t think I can make the singles, but I’ll try and maybe pop my head in for one of the team events.’’