ALEX Marshall has high hopes he can claim a seventh world indoor singles title – despite barely picking up a bowl in the past year.

The Tranent-based bowler is in Norfolk at the World Indoor Championships, with his bid for a magnificent seventh men’s singles title getting under way on Saturday.

Marshall takes on James Rippey and spoke to Courier Sport on Monday afternoon after a year heavily disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

He said: “I’m really looking forward to it.

“I’ve not won the men’s singles at the World Indoor Championships since 2015 but I have come close on a few occasions since then.

“A lot of people are going to be a bit rusty, particularly because of stadiums being closed.

“A lot of people will have not played a lot and I just started playing two weeks ago after not playing from last February because of Covid-19. I’ve got underlying health issues –I have asthma – and in the last two weeks I have been able to play at Meadowmill, which has been a great help.

“I’ve got to thank them for the use.

“I’ve been on my own for preparation and that went really well.”

Marshall was crowned singles champion in 1999, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2015, as well as finishing runner-up in 2011.

Thirty-two players are taking part in this year’s tournament, with Marshall seeded at number 15.

Travel restrictions have limited the field and 53-year-old Marshall felt the competition was wide open.

He did, though, suffer a setback when he and partner Paul Foster suffered a shock exit in the tournament’s open pairs on Sunday.

The Scottish duo, hot favourites to win the pairs, defeated James Rippey and Darren Weir in their opening match last Friday.

But Marshall’s bid for a seventh open pairs title was ended on Sunday morning by Simon Skelton and Michael Stepney.

The East Lothian bowler felt there were a couple of key moments that did not go in his and Foster’s favour but stressed that that was the nature of the sport.

The elimination meant that Marshall, a five-times gold-medal winner at the Commonwealth Games, had a six-day wait until the contest with Rippey.

In a coronavirus-impacted tournament, life has been more than a little bit different at the Potters Resort on Hopton-on-Sea.

Marshall said: “You cannot really do anything.

“There is nothing open in the resort, just the restaurant.

“I’m just using the time to practise.

“I’m practising in the morning because the carpet is full the majority of the day, so I am playing first thing and then going to have breakfast.

“I come out of the restaurant hall, go back to my room, do a little bit of work, I’m watching films and trying to keep myself occupied.

“It is really, really difficult but it is the same for everybody.

“There is a pool and other things but they are all shut.

“It is basically practice, restaurant for your breakfast, lunch and evening meal, and back to your room.

“There is a big lounge and you can sit there but I am keeping myself to myself, purely because of my underlying health issues.”

The pandemic saw last year’s summer season wiped out, with Marshall – alongside fellow East Lothian bowlers Derek Oliver, Lauren Baillie-Whyte and Dee Hoggan – missing out on travelling to Australia for the World Bowls Championships. Aberlady’s Billy Mellors was to join them as a coach.

The lack of tournaments meant an enforced absence for Marshall, who has been at the top of the sport for approaching three decades.

He said: “I had not picked up a bowl for 10 months until the last two weeks. I have put in a lot of practice in those last two weeks.”