A good marker is not only an asset to a club, but he adds considerably to
the enjoyment of the game by players and spectators alike.
A MARKER'S DUTIES
- Assisting to straighten the mat.
- Aligning the jack.
- Marking a toucher, or removing a prior chalk mark.
- Removing a dead bowl.
- Replacing a disturbance caused by himself.
- Answering questions of fact.
- Recording the score.
- Advising the players of each progress score.
- Seeing that the score board is correct.
- Handling the completed and signed score card to the proper authority.
In addition, the Marker must never forget that the main purpose for his
presence is to assist the players to enjoy the game, as well as to facilitate
the actual play, by only answering the questions asked by the player next
entitled to bowl. This should be done quickly and accurately so as to avoid the
necessity of the players having to make a personal inspection of the head.
Up and down, walking, walking,
Often measuring, sometimes chalking.
Shifting mats-keeping score,
Thirty ends-may be more;
Aching back-tired of limb,
Cheers for others-none for him.
Night draws on darker, darker,
No one cares for he's the MARKER.
It is not sufficiently appreciated that a singles match is essentially an
elimination contest in which the players take the game seriously and therefore
the marker should likewise accept and perform his duties in a serious manner.
The game requires the players to exercise their maximum powers of
concentration, and all they ask from a marker is his undivided attention, which
should be given firstly as a matter of courtesy, secondly as an interesting
study of the individual player's capabilities, and thirdly because it provides
an opportunity for learning more about the game even if it be only what not to
A good marker, in whom the players have complete confidence, materially
contributes to the quality of their game. It is a much mistaken notion that
anyone can undertake the duties. No novice should ever volunteer to mark a game
until he is completely versed in the duties of a marker, as set out in the
Laws, and even then not until he has carefully studied other markers and their
actions. In the closing stages of an Association event, when markers are
carefully selected, the novice will do well to particularly study these
A marker should be an experienced bowler and a good judge of distance.
"Experienced" does not mean a very good bowler, as there are
excellent markers who have never been first-class bowlers, but they have had
experience in the game and have found the job a pleasant and interesting one,
as it undoubtedly is.
Far too many markers are distracted by the spectators and their comments,
but could they "hear" the thoughts of the players they would quickly
realise where their "reputations" were going. In matches, other than
club events, a marker is virtually "wished" upon the players, and his
efficiency, or lack of it, becomes a reflection on the club management, for, to
the players, the marker IS the club for the time being. This aspect is one that
club officials should remember, and should not hesitate to decline the services
of non-competent volunteers.
The minimum requirement of a marker is that he shall know the duties as set
out in the Laws, but few there be that fulfil even this standard. Fewer still
are definite on what is meant by "jack high", yet the Laws contain an
official definition, which clearly states what is meant in answer to this very
Before proceeding to the Head End the Marker should extend the hand of
friendship to both players and make himself fully conversant with the ownership
of the respective bowls. Certainly, in Association events and at least in club
finals, the Marker should pay a compliment to the contestants by being
correctly attired according to the Laws.
Before aligning the jack he should check whether the mat has been correctly
laid. He should then retire to the position indicated in the Laws, until the
first bowl has been delivered, and, during its course, proceed to alter the
score board (if at that end) returning to his position in time to observe
whether the bowl becomes a toucher. If possible a spectator should be asked to
manipulate the score board, in which case he should be instructed not to do so
during the period a player is on the mat prior to making a delivery. The exact
position for a marker to stand is purposely not stated in the Laws, but the
usual and generally acceptable position is from two to three metres
(approximately 6 to 8 feet) behind the jack and two metres (approximately 6
feet) to one side, depending on the location of his shadow. Any extensive
increase in these distances is undesirable as it involves a greater delay in
answering a question.
A marker should remain motionless at his chosen spot with his attention and
eyes fixed on the player whose turn it is to bowl so as to observe whether a
question is asked, as quite frequently the question is not expressed in words,
but in an action, such as holding an arm up indicating the question: "Am I
the shot?" The marker's reply can then be given silently by an action (up
or down) and in so doing no information is necessarily disclosed to the
opponent unless he happens to observe the actions. In general a good marker is
able to anticipate a likely question as the result of his own experience, plus
the fact that he is sufficiently close to the head to know the position.
A marker must not move from his position except to observe whether a bowl is
likely to become a toucher or to answer a question requiring a closer
inspection. Under no circumstances whatsoever must he move, even by simply
leaning over or turning sideways, to observe the head in order to satisfy his
own curiosity or to anticipate a possible question. To move in any way is
definitely contravening a Law as it gives an indication to the players of a
possible change in the position that is not apparent to them. A marker must
realise that the resultant effect of a bowl is not his concern, and any
personal interest he may have in a player must not be shown. A biased marker is
It is somewhat surprising that so many players ask so few questions during a
match and yet on reaching the head are so frequently heard to remark on the
position being different from what they thought. Even if players have every
confidence in their marker they become reluctant to ask a question if it
involves a walk to the head by the marker because of the time delay in getting
an answer. Therefore it is very essential for the marker to be alert and adjacent
to the head.
The only player entitled to ask a question is the one whose turn it is to
bowl, but he does not necessarily have to be standing on the mat, as some
markers seem to think. One other point that every marker should always remember
is that an inefficient marker can frequently be justifiably blamed, by the
loser, for the result of the game, and that is something to be avoided at all
In conclusion, this brief treatise would be incomplete without setting out a
few of the major "Don'ts" to be observed-
(1) Don't answer questions that are being asked in an adjacent rink.
Concentration and attention to the man on the mat will prevent this happening.
(2) Don't say the shot is doubtful if it is not really so. Experience at
judging distances is something that can be acquired by anyone, provided they
will indulge in a little practice on their own. It is most disconcerting to be
told it is "up and down" and then find your opponent is at least one
or more without even a measure.
(3) Don't forget to immediately advise the player if a bowl falls over and
alters the position after a question has been answered or an inspection of the
head has been made by the player.
(4) Don't give a misleading answer to a badly-worded question. A marker is
entitled to ask the player to restate or clarify his question to enable an
intelligent answer to be given.
This particularly applies to such a question as: "Am I one down?"
when he may be three down and to answer "Yes" or "No" is
equally correct and incorrect, such a question is definitely a badly worded
one. The proper form is: "Am I more than one down?" or "How many
down am I?"
(5) Don't supplement your answer with information not asked for. Remember,
every answer is common to both players and the questioner may not wish to
gratuitously give information to his opponent. For instance, if asked to
indicate which bowl is third shot, do so, but do not say whose bowl it is, or
if asked whether the player is lying second shot, just say "Yes" or
"No", but do not add that he is also third shot or some such similar
information. The game provides ample scope for players to indulge in tactics to
outwit each other, and the marker must be careful not to nullify their efforts.
(6) Arrange with the players before the match commences when they prefer
touchers to be marked. The general practice is to mark a toucher immediately it
has come to rest.
(7) Don't forget HOW to measure, as distinct from what to measure with. If
you suspect A's bowl to be the nearer one, measure that first and then transfer
to B's bowl, but on no account give an immediate decision, even if the answer
be obvious. It is essential that the distance be transferred back to A's bowl
so as to be quite sure that no movement has occurred. In the case of a really
close measure, or where the players have previously measured, and a tie is a
possibility, it is wise to repeat, at least once, the foregoing procedure
before giving a decision. Immediately you have satisfied yourself as to the
shot bowl, the best way to announce it is to move the winning bowl so that
there can be no misunderstanding. Apart from satisfying the contestants it is
just as important that the spectators shall have witnessed a proper judgment.
(8) Don't, under any circumstances, suggest or invite a player to inspect
the head. To do so implies inability to give a satisfactory answer.
Thanks to the Henselite Company for the above information.