Featured Bowler – January

Damian Gray

What did you study at university? Computer Science

What do you do as a day job? Software Developer/Engineer

High Game: 300 (x30)

High Series: 860 (300, 261, 299)

How long have you been bowling?

About 24 years. Joined first league in 1993 and went from there.

How did you start bowling?

Parents took me one weekend soon after I finished high school and we all enjoyed it so went back again during the weekdays before I started college. We were approached by one of the league members at the bowl to join their league and the rest is history!

You saw great club success with Brunel. Tell us a bit about the club’s growth while you were there.

The club was reasonably established after I joined but some members were graduating the year I joined the club so it went back a few steps for a couple of years. We struggled to do well in the Cup (often knocked out in group stages) and mid-level in Student Championships (BUSA Champs as it was then). In my final year, we recruited well and were able to build a great squad to challenge. We won BUSA Men’s champs for first time in club history and I was selected to the Rep Squad in the same year. The club were also runners up in the UCTBA Cup as well. Unfortunately, a few of us graduated after that year which signalled the start of a steady decline for Brunel bowling.

You have represented Team England in the past. What’s it like to wear the shirt?

I can’t express the nerves I had wearing the shirt on the lanes for the first time. I think I bowled the worst I’ve ever done in my first squad wearing the shirt but once I was able to get over that thanks to my team mates at the time, I took immense pride in wearing it and representing my country. I never set out to play for England when I first started so to be able to pull on that shirt and being part of the opening ceremony and bowling with the country’s name on your back…… there’s nothing like it in the world!

Is there anyone who has been influential on you as a bowler?

Hmmm…… tough one as I started quite late in bowling terms (was 16 when I first picked up a ball). I would have to say Tim Mack and Walter Ray Williams Jr for both their varying styles of play and differing attitude on the lanes yet they both know how to win and their longevity in the game for the amount of years they have been at the top and winning titles is outstanding.

What has been your most memorable moment on the lanes to date?

I have a few, like, when I first represented BUSA Rep Squad and medalled against Team England YACs, pulling on the England shirt for the first time and medalling playing for my country, playing against Tim Mack in the London International and somehow beating him in a match (he got his revenge a few rounds later) but I would have to say my most memorable was winning the London International title back in 2005. I had to beat a few top bowlers at the time including Rob Thurlby, Tore Torgeson and Paul Moor in the final, who was current European No. 1 at the time. That was the first moment that I realised that on my day, I could compete with anyone and gave me the confidence to make England a few years later.

What are your targets/ambitions for this season?

I don’t bowl as much as I used to due to varying priorities (saving for a house mainly) but I want to play the BUTBA Tour and hopefully win the OoM title for the first time as I plan to finally play 5 or 6 events this year. Also, will play the BTBA Tour and see if I can improve on my 3rd place finish from last year. Apart from that, towards the end of the year, step up training and hopefully look to play the Sport Bowling tour next year and maybe play the England Trials next year as well, if I can.

What kit is in your bag at the moment?

I tend to only bowl Storm family products so Crux Pearl, Phaze, Mutant Cell, Prodigy, Alpha Crux, IQ Tour Nano, Triple X, Pitch Black and Spare Ball.

What one piece of advice would you give to our new tour members?

Practice, patience and persevere. It won’t happen overnight so always walk before you can run. Set yourself goals like a high game or series and try to better them whenever you take to the lanes. Don’t be afraid to ask others for advice as we’re here to help and we were in your position at some point so we know how it feels and it can be quite daunting at times. Above all else, enjoy the game and never be afraid to lose as you learn more from losing than winning.