MARK Dawes returns to the scene of his greatest-ever triumph a week on Monday, when the Radcliffe bowler begins the defence of his World Indoor Singles crown, at the five-star Potters Leisure Resort, in Norfolk.

In a memorable couple of weeks at the Hopton-on-Sea venue last year, not only did Dawes – who plays his bowls at Blackpool Newton Hall – land the coveted prize, he also scooped the Pairs with Jamie Chestney, and he finds himself back on the east coast attempting to become only the fifth player to successfully defend his title.

While he has relished his world champion moniker for the last 12 months, the omens coming into this event have not been good, given he has suffered two first-round defeats in the past two WBT tournaments, while he and Chestney’s attempt at repeating their success of last year was halted by Alex Marshall and Paul Foster last Saturday at the very first hurdle, making it three early confidence-sapping exits in a row for Dawes on the tour.

“The form has not been great,” the 36-year-old accounting assistant agreed.

“I think, basically, I was on a massive high and I haven’t quite re-adjusted to getting back and having that drive and determination.

"I think probably going back as defending champion gives you that little extra bit of incentive.

“Maybe my preparation for the other tournaments wasn’t as good as it was for Potters last year.

"I have practised as much as I probably ever have done, but possibly not turned up to tournaments as well as I would have liked.

"Because it was a surprise win and it was one of my goals in life, it’s a case of asking yourself ‘what do I do next?’.”

Dawes faces good friend, Ulsterman Graham McKee, first up, a regular qualifier from Belfast, and although he arrives as the defending champion, he insists he can deal with having a target strapped to his back, adding: “I don’t particularly feel the pressure. 

"When I was a qualifier I always used to think there were four or five top-16 players you wanted to avoid, but against the rest you had a chance and I think I’m still one of the latter players.

"People will respect the fact I’ve won the world title, but equally there will be a few players who would rather play me than someone else.”