York Chronicles – day 2

Second and last day of the last 64 round.

Colin, Ronnie and Jimmy started with a preview the afternoon session, focusing on the Mark Selby v Oliver Lines match

During and after that match, they were praising Selby’s performance constantly; it was indeed impressive. The only moment they criticised him was when he tried to protect a lead instead of taking chances to kill the frame. Oliver Lines never really got going but he wasn’t given the chance to:
After the session though their focus was on the other television match, Judd Trumps’s victory over Stuart Carrington.

Later Colin, Ronnie and Jimmy presented the day 2, evening matches preview:

Stephen Maguire made very short work of his match beating a struggling Jamie Cope by 6-0, but he was still very critical of the conditions afterwards.

And at the end of the day, they were back to comment on Neil Robertson’s performance and answer a few fans questions. Despite a few good breaks, it was a poor match overall, both players missing a lot of chances.

Elsewhere Luca Brecel beat Anthony McGill by 6-4. Earlier in his commentary, Ronnie has suggested that Luca and Oliver Lines were the two most promising European young players. Personally I regret that Luca and Anthony had to meet at this stage, I like to watch both and certainly both are very capable.

Also Barry Hawkins was beaten by Robin Hull, 6-3, a mini surprise but then Robin is a very dangerous player and very experienced.

Ronnie and Jimmy’s punditry attracted a lot of praise on social media, Ronnie’s straight talking and no nonsense attitude is hugely appreciated as are Jimmy’s sense of humour and knowledge.

here is a mini selection of tweets from yesterday:

  1. Enjoying watching you on the couch you’re giving everyone a different insight into the game

  2. refreshing thing for snooker with and in the studio, much better than the bbc lot. Bbc should have signed um up

You can watch all of day 2 in York punditry here:

All the detailed results are available on cuetracker.net

Snooker’s top 5 ambassadors …

Last week, Hector Nunns published this in inside-snooker

SNOOKER’S TOP FIVE AMBASSADORS? WHAT DO YOU THINK…

SNOOKER'S TOP FIVE AMBASSADORS? WHAT DO YOU THINK...

In a fiercely competitive individual sport, you are always going to cut players a degree of slack for not always seeing a bigger picture in moments of high pressure, crisis and defeat. There is a desire to perform, to earn money, to do well for you and your family, win as many titles and as much glory as you can, and you have to be strong to survive.

However there are players who regularly rise above those ever-present thoughts, and always/most of the time have the sport, its wellbeing, best interests and public perception high up in their mind. In an ideal world, the ambassador would have all or most of those intentions even at times of great personal anguish and disappointment.

So risking opening a hornet’s nest, here is a go at a Top Five Snooker Ambassadors. A difficult task, no doubt contentious, and by all means have your say on what is never designed to be a list of greatest or favourite players.

5 Ronnie O’Sullivan 

This is a joke, right? Someone who isn’t defending their UK title, and for long periods in his life droned on about how much the sport that brought him fame and money drove him to tears and worse? Some will be furious that O’Sullivan is in at all, but such is his polarising effect, others will be livid that he is as low as No5. But having a go at defending this selection, I would start with this. No one, no other player, and certainly no member of the media or public, knows what it is like to be Ronnie O’Sullivan. He has had a piercing spotlight on him for 23 years. He has done more press and media and answered more questions than any other player (and he has done it, even after losing). He has inspired more column inches, more radio bulletins, more TV features than any other player. And he wants to entertain, not just win. Has he always represented the game well? In truth, no. But he has made more people pick up a cue than anybody else, and more people turn on the TV to watch than anyone since Alex Higgins and Jimmy White in their pomp. He shouldered snooker’s profile almost single-handedly when it was on its knees – and that must all count for something.

4 Kyren Wilson 

I wanted to have a current young player in this list, and to be honest this one was easy. For any aspiring young professional, Wilson is a fine example of how to conduct yourself on and off the table, and you could have called that well before his Shanghai Masters breakthrough success. Positive, optimistic (I can already hear some of the gnarled old veterans saying he’ll have that beaten out of him after a few damaging losses), intelligent, and a good talker about the game and himself away from snooker, Wilson did not need much in the way of media training, always making himself available to promote the sport. Well managed in his early years by Paul Mount, Wilson has also got involved early with charity fund-raising at just 18, doing a sky-dive jump from 13,000 feet for a cause close to his heart, Multiple Sclerosis, from which dad and constant supporter Rob suffers.

3 Shaun Murphy

Murphy does occasionally rub the odd playing rival up the wrong way on tour, but basically if it were not for players like him taking responsibility, the sport would wither and die. The 2005 world champion has got through a colossal amount of promotional, PR and ambassadorial work over the years and has laboured tirelessly all over the globe to meet his obligations as a professional away from the actual business of potting balls. From Brazil to Berlin, Murphy gets what is needed and steps up to build interest and take the game to new territories – even in periods in his career, and there have been some before a recent resurgence, when he has been desolate about his own form and results. Throw in charity work for worthy organisations such as the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital who have benefited from his century breaks, the REAL Foundation Trust in the East Midlands, and also campaigning and research to try and help eliminate the menace of kicks in snooker, and Murphy, who always gives the impression he is fortunate and privileged to be playing snooker for a living, deserves his place.

2 Ken Doherty 

I was reminded once again at World Championship qualifying earlier this year why Ireland’s Doherty should be on this list, and should be high up on it. As a former world champion and popular BBC pundit Doherty is news, win or lose, and the last thing he wanted to do after losing a final qualifier 10-3 to Mark Davis was come up and answer a load of questions about how disappointed he was, how much it hurt, and how worried he was that he might never be back at the Crucible. But he did it, and even managed a smile and a joke. Doherty has always seen a bigger picture, recognising his part in the wider sport, something altogether more substantial than his own individual fortunes. Plus he always looks like he is enjoying himself, from a perspective of ‘What else would I have rather done with my life?’ Also now involved with the WPBSA, here are a couple of quotes from Doherty’s autobiography. “Snooker is in my blood…and you lose no dignity carrying on playing even though you are no longer contending. I love snooker, and always will. I love doing the media work, it could be a way of remaining connected with the game and keeping its profile high. I want to give something back, and may also look at coaching and management when I stop playing.”

1 Steve Davis   

Another easy one, this. I grew up against the Steve Davis backdrop of domination, so knew exactly what he had won, or more specifically the titles he had ‘taken’ from my own childhood favourites Jimmy White and Alex Higgins. Would Davis have got into this list in the 1980s, let alone top it? Probably not. But something happened as his powers faded. Davis adapted better than anyone I have ever seen in any sport to the fact he was no longer dominant, and his sheer love of snooker came to the fore. That has shown in everything he has done since, be it work with the WPBSA, commentary, presenting and studio analysis for the BBC, and most of all for me his work with Cue Zone Into Schools, the project to not only raise awareness of snooker in schools, but to use it as a force for good in boosting numeracy skills. I attended one of these sessions at a Sheffield academy school, and the efforts of Davis, Chris Lovell and Jason Ferguson reaped a huge reward. None of the kids there that day were even alive for the last of Davis’s world titles let alone the first, but his enthusiasm alone bridged the generational chasm with the youngsters. I once needed a big name to come to the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin for a photo for a BBC web piece. It was minus 30 degrees that day, with wind-chill on top, and I wasn’t hopeful. Davis donned his beanie and said ‘Let’s go’. He is a worthy No1.

Honourable mentions for their ambassadorial qualities should also go to – Stephen Hendry, Terry Griffiths, Mark Selby, Neil Robertson, Ali Carter, Stuart Bingham, Alan McManus and Neal Foulds.

Let the arguments commence.

Here is my take on the subject:

Overall I agree with Hector’s choice considering he was adamant to have a young up and coming player in his selection, and if so, Kyren is the obvious choice.

I would have Ronnie higher in that list, probably second. Of course he’s not been perfect, far from it, but to a significant extend it’s that lack of perfection that has allowed so many to relate to him. None of us is perfect and we find it difficult to identify with “perfect” people, somehow they don’t seem real, genuine. And as Hector highlights, Ronnie has been the the only box-office star for years when snooker was very “low”, and he stood up to the role even when private circumstances were very difficult.

Despite the occasional faux-pas, I would definitely add Ding to the honourable mentions, he’s been doing a lot for snooker in Asia.

On the other hand I’m glad Alex Higgins isn’t mentioned. Yes, he did put snooker on the map but he was a truly terrible human being.

So what’s your view?

York Chronicles – day 1

This Saturday saw the start of the last 64 of the UK Championship 2015, at the Barbican, in York.
Ronnie is the defending champion … but has declined to enter the event. He is present though, as a pundit, in the Eurosport Studio, along with Jimmy White and Colin Murray. They will cover every session from this afternoon on to the tournament conclusion on Sunday, December 6.

During their day 1 preview, Ronnie expected Stuart Bingham and John Higgins to win their matches, but believed that Mark Williams could be vulnerable mainly because he doesn’t score heavily enough.

The three have worked together last season already and we can expect a lot of banter as well as expert analysis.
They already kicked it off on twitter:

Colin tweeted:

UKPundits2

@ronnieo147 settling in nicely in @EurosportUKTV studio this afternoon. I’m feeding him grapes 🍇 #eurosportsnooker
@ronnieo147 @EurosportUKTV footprints everywhere! 🙂

Colin, Ronnie and Jimmy briefly discussed the afternoon results. Overall they got their predictions right: Mark Williams did lose to Tom Ford in the decider despite both players scoring heavily; Mark blamed the cushions for ruining his positional game, just like Ronnie did in early rounds last season here in York as well.

Ronnie, Jimmy and Colin then gave their preview regarding the evening matches, with focus on two young promising players, Zhou Yuelong and Kyren Wilson.

You can watch all the punditry again here:

Kyren Wilson duly won his match over veteran Mike Dunn, but Zhou Yuelong got beat soundly by an impressive Shaun Murphy. There were two surprise results as well: Li Hang defeated Ricky Walden by 6-5 and Joe Perry was beaten comprehensively by Robbie Williams. Li Hang has quietly turned into a very dangerous player over the last couple of seasons, so that one isn’t a real shock, but Perry was seen by many as a possible winner in this tournament. After the match, Perry criticised his opponent for his style of play: you can read (and listen to) his reaction in this piece by Andy Caroll .

All the detailed results are available on cuetracker.net

Today’s interview with Shaamon Hafez

source BBC Sport

Ronnie O’Sullivan says there is no timescale on when he will return to playing competitive snooker.

O’Sullivan’s last match was at the World Championship in April, where he lost in the quarter-final to eventual winner Stuart Bingham.

Since then, the five-time world champion, 39, has played in amateur tournaments and exhibitions.

“I am reluctant to give up this easy life I have at the moment which is very enjoyable,” he told BBC Sport.

“I am dithering but at the moment I am enjoying life so much I haven’t really got the time to practise or give the game 100%.”

Asked if a rumoured return to action at the Masters in January is possible, O’Sullivan said: “That is not true.”

O’Sullivan went on speak about his life away from the table and making his debut as a TV pundit for the second round of the UK Championship on Saturday.

How O’Sullivan now lives his life

Ronnie O'Sullivan
O’Sullivan had the chance to reach his four consecutive world final, but lost to Stuart Bingham in the last eight

With little practice now in his schedule, O’Sullivan has time to catch up on his favourite TV shows, as well as giving up bad habits he has picked up.

Start to the day: “I wake up at 4am and put a bit of telly on for an hour. I like my sports so I’ll watch that. The Champions League, darts, tennis and athletics I enjoy the most. There is always something on. I’ll take 10 minutes to watch the news to see what I going on around the world.

“I like I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here at the moment and Lady Colin Campbell is causing a bit of a stir. You never know, one day I might be on it myself.

“Then I get my jogging bottoms on and go to the forest. I have a slight injury at the moment so I will be walking for five, six miles and do a little bit of running because the back is getting better. That will start my day off. The more I do it, the more I feel I need to have it.

“When I injured my back, I was told I was unable to do any more exercise and for the first couple of weeks I quite enjoyed not having to go to the gym or do the morning run. It does take time out of your day. You end up gaining two hours on your day. It is important that I am able to get some fresh air and it enables me to think and find some answers to questions I have in my mind.

“After that, I’ll make my way to the cafe with my friend who I go walking with, sit there and chill and have some breakfast. Eighty percent of my food is healthy because I am liable to put on weight so I know how important diet is. I would go for porridge, poached eggs, grilled tomatoes and mushrooms. I try and stay away from the bread. I then shower and get ready for whatever the day presents for me. That can vary from day to day.”

Ronnie O'Sullivan

Preparing for the afternoon: “I am ready for the rest of my day by 11am. I have the Ronnie O’Sullivan Show on Eurosport so will take time working on that and also the radio show that I have on a Thursday. I enjoy spending quality time with my son and daughter. In the holidays, I get to spend even more time with them so as a parent, there are responsibilities. You are juggling quite a few things when you get to my age.

“Otherwise I will go down to the club and hit a few balls. I didn’t play for around two to three months after the World Championship and decided to play in some of the amateur tournaments at the snooker academy in Gloucester. I have done a little bit of practice but not too much and played in some exhibition matches.

“It has given me the chance to travel around the UK and I love that. We move from one venue to the next and it is exciting because you never know what you are going to get. If there was no snooker for me to play, I would rather stay at home.”

A healthy evening meal: “I have dinner at around 6-7pm and my girlfriend does a great curry. We try to do it as organic as you can. When you get to 40, it is harder to keep the weight down so you have to keep vigilant about what you eat. We go to a restaurant sometimes but will always have the grilled stuff.

“My favourite meal during the week is fish, but I love to eat chicken and salads too. We just got back from Bulgaria and Romania and the salads they do out there are unbelievable. I am going to try that in my diet over here. We tend to eat a lot of bread and pasta here.”

Ronnie O'Sullivan
O’Sullivan was at the O2 Arena to watch the ATP World Tour finals earlier this month

Winding down: “9pm would be an early night for me. I had six hours’ sleep on Thursday night which is the most I have had in about five years. I overslept. I usually have four hours and that keeps me going. I am flying if I get four hours.

“At the moment, I am reading Allen Carr’s book The Only Way to Stop Smoking Permanently. That will be in my handbag which I carry around with me everywhere I go. In there I also have my pens, driving licence, some euros and my passport. Any time I think I need to go somewhere, I will always have the essentials ready in my bag. I can go to any country with that and survive.

“When I run, I don’t ever feel like smoking but the last six weeks I haven’t been able to and it has been a hard time for me. I may have to have an operation on my back. I was feeling sorry for myself and decided to start smoking again. It is not a good idea but I am getting off them.”

‘There is a duty to say what needs to be said’

Ronnie O'Sullivan and Gary Neville
“Gary Neville is a great pundit,” says O’Sullivan

O’Sullivan won his fifth UK Championship title in York last December, but decided not to defend his crown. Instead, he will be making his debut as a snooker pundit starting on Saturday on Eurosport.

“Gary Neville is a great football pundit but he has learnt off a great in Sir Alex Ferguson. Gary knows the game inside out and everyone has their different ways of looking at a game.

“The aim of punditry isn’t to be controversial, it is about being honest and given the viewers an insight. As a pundit, there is a duty to say what needs to be said.

“I will have my own view on how a match is going and I will have played against a lot of the guys so will provide an insight on how certain players will match up. I can give a view on their strengths and weaknesses too. Snooker is about cancelling each other out so if a player has an attacking game, you can put pressure on their weakest part.”

The only thing I want to add is that I was in Romania and Ronnie did indeed say that he would be at the Masters… so it’s a change of mind, not a false rumour.

Ronnie was talking to Radio Yorkshire as well

Listen to the interview here

Both this interview and the Nolan Show one suggest that, contrary to what he said in Romania, Ronnie will not be at the Masters and has no plan to return to snooker in a near future. 😦
This is also confirmed by Shamoon Hafez form BBC5live on twitter‏

Ronnie O’Sullivan says he will NOT be returning for the Masters in Januiary #snooker