BOWLS: Grantham’s Orrey exits World Championships with his head held high

Matthew Orrey in action at the World Indoor Bowls Championship. Photo: Phil Crow
Matthew Orrey in action at the World Indoor Bowls Championship. Photo: Phil Crow

The fairytale may have come to an end at the hands of 1996 world champion David Gourlay, but Grantham’s Matthew Orrey departed the Just Retirement Professional World Indoor Bowls Singles with his head held high after narrowly succumbing to the Spanish-based Scottish veteran in the last of the four quarter-finals.

In a quality, hard-fought encounter between the 27-year-old qualifier and 49-year-old former Scotland bowls head coach at Potters Leisure Resort, so close were the margins between the players that there were an incredible 15 singles scored over 17 ends as Matthew lost 3-9 4-5, with Gourlay booking his place against Nick Brett in last Saturday’s semi-final.

“I’ve got no complaints,” admitted Matthew. “I am disappointed I didn’t play a bit better, but he was the better player on the day and full credit to him.

“My first two bowls just weren’t good enough and his were far better and put me under a lot of pressure. I tried shortening the jack, but again my first two bowls were not brilliant.

“When his first bowl wasn’t good, that’s when I didn’t put the pressure on when I should and you have to punish your opponent when he’s slack.”

Matthew, who had already beaten Paul Foster and Simon Skelton on his singles debut, did not have the greatest of starts, losing the first three ends and dropping a full house on end five to trail 7-1.

Another single made it 8-1, but he then picked up a double and held three on the next end, which would have put him right back in the match, but Gourlay played weight and collected a shot with his final bowl to seal the first set. A treble for Orrey on that end and the eventual outcome could have been very different.

“I think the biggest thing for me, particularly in the first set when I played my runners is that I just didn’t get the results at all,” explained Matthew. “If anything, the four killed me. I hit the target twice, but both times I got a terrible result.”

The second set was much closer, with singles traded every end, but with Matthew needing to eke out a lead to put Gourlay under pressure, he just could not peg his opponent back, although he never trailed by far.

Needing a virtual impossible three on the final end to take the match into a tie-break, the head never fell right for him and although he claimed the shot, it was game over, with the Scot celebrating victory.

“The second set could have gone either way, but to try and get a three on the last end was a big ask, especially the way the match went,” said Matthew. “It felt an uphill task; I really needed to win the eighth end to stand any chance.”

Despite his obvious disappointment, Matthew was proud of his achievements and more than anything, it has given him the taste for more of the big time.

“If somebody had said to me ‘you’re going to get to the quarters’ before I started then I would have taken that and it’s a good achievement. Hopefully I can build on this in years to come,” he said.

“I hope to qualify again. I was very nervous when I played Paul [Foster] in my first game and it has helped me getting used to the venue and the surroundings. It has been a really good experience and a big learning curve. These are the players I want to play all the time, that’s the level I want to aspire to.”

Matthew entered the tournament ranked outside the world’s top 100, but could be now as high as 20 in the standings following his epic showing on the Norfolk coast.

“I have gained some valuable points, but I need to be qualifying for tournaments over the next year or so, before the points I have gained here are lost,” he added. “The person at number 16 is only in the early 30s and I get 20 points from getting to the quarter-final here.”