The coronavirus has been dominating the news and impacted our lives for several weeks now. It’s the same for everyone, including snooker players.
LEAN ON NEIL
Neil Robertson offers financial help to fellow snooker stars affected by coronavirus shutdown
KIND-HEARTED Neil Robertson has offered to financially help any struggling snooker players during the coronavirus crisis.
Australia’s 2010 world snooker champion says he would support close pals if they find it hard to pay their mortgage before the rescheduled World Championships this July.
Neil Robertson (pictured to the left) wants to offer financial help to snooker players who have been affected by the coronavirus crisis. The 2010 world snooker champion has earned more than £900,000 over the past two years.Credit: Getty Images – Getty
World No 2 Robbo said: “Should any struggle or need advancement for their prize money at the worlds, then they can pay me back as soon as they get paid from World Snooker. It’s no problem.
“If a player I know came to me and said, ‘Look, I’m really struggling to pay my bills, are you all right to front me as a guarantor for the first round of the worlds?’ Well, I’d do that no problem. Absolutely.”
Snooker chiefs have set up a hardship fund against future prize money for those down the rankings.
Some people in the UK may have mental health issues and we’ve seen the best and worst of humanity. People are trying to be generous and help elderly people.
Robertson, 38, who earned £915,000 over the past two years, knows how fortunate he has been and is willing to help out the baize community.He added: “A lot of players can be thankful they’ve a place on the tour. But it’s tough for lower-ranked players. Some could struggle.
“Some people in the UK may have mental health issues and we’ve seen the best and worst of humanity. People are trying to be generous and help elderly people. In Cambridge where I live, everyone’s pulling together.”
The Crucible showpiece was supposed to start on April 18 but will be moved to July 25.
It could be staged behind closed doors in Sheffield or with restrictions in place for the crowd.
With Premier League football on hold, the Tokyo Olympics postponed and Wimbledon cancelled, top-class snooker could save our summer.
Left-hander Robertson and world No 1 and defending champion Judd Trump were the men in form before the tour was postponed.
But Robertson reckons maverick Ronnie O’Sullivan might fancy his prospects of winning a sixth crown.
The Thunder from Down Under said: “Snooker is a very good TV sport. And it’s probably more equipped to deal with this situation than maybe other sports.
“Lifting a major trophy in front of an empty stadium would be a very strange feeling.
“But then you’d rather do that than not play at all. It’s a tough balance.
“Form goes out of the window now. It’s like starting a new season. We cannot do exhibitions or smaller events to get match sharpness.
“It could be wide open. Myself and Judd were clear favourites from the end of the season.
“But I feel Ronnie has a better chance than maybe if he had been busy in the second half of the season. He’s one who would be the favourite should it go ahead.
“A crowd plays a massive part with Ronnie. It can get on top of his opponent but at the same time, sometimes they can get on him if he’s not entertaining.
“At the same time, he won’t have the pressure from the crowd. Sometimes they can get on him if he’s not entertaining.
“When you watch Barcelona play you want to see Lionel Messi score two goals. If he hasn’t after 80 minutes you can perhaps get restless.
“But if the tournament goes ahead with full safety guaranteed, it’d be better to play than not at all.”
Robertson, who is sponsored by Dental Centre Turkey, is able to practise three times a week at his Essex club with no one else around.
This lockdown period has allowed him plenty of time with his wife and two young children.
He added: “When I do start playing again it’s important to be sharp. A long break can cause long-term damage to a player’s technique.
“It can be dangerous for a snooker player to go 2-3 months without even touching a cue.”
This is a genuinely kind gesture from Neil who is one of the nicest and more positive person on the tour.
Meanwhile, this was published on Youtube:
The channel/user behind it is named “Covid 19” and the associated link brings you to the WHO site on the page offering info about the pandemics.
I’m not too sure what to make of this. Ronnie doesn’t look great in there. Maybe it’s just because the camera is fitted with a wide-angle lens, and the focus is poor, but he appears rather fat and out of shape, physically and mentally.
He thanks China for the help they sent to Italy and praises their response to the crisis. Both of it makes sense knowing how much Ronnie loves China and keeping in mind that his mother is Sicilian.
China indeed sent equipment and doctors to Italy at the worse of the epidemics. One interesting thing I read about that “mission” to Italy, is that one on the most experienced Chinese doctors said that we, in Europe, were making the same mistake that they had made in Wuhan at the start of the epidemic: putting people with mild symptoms in self-isolation at home. Even if those people try their best to self-isolate, very few of them actually live alone at home and, despite everyone’s best efforts, they are bound to contaminate others in the same household. He said that some time into the crisis, they had come to understand that, despite the Chinese respecting the social distancing measures much better than most Europeans do, spreading continued and as much as 80% of contamination happened inside families. They then started systematic testing and isolation for everyone coming up positive in ad-hoc facilities, no matter how mild the symptoms were. That resulted in a very fast decrease in new cases.
Going back to Neil’s article and his views on Ronnie’s chances, should the World Championship be played end July, I’m again in two minds about it. Ronnie is rather fragile mentally and I’m afraid that all the anxiety around these epidemics might affect him badly. On the other hand, not being seen as a favourite and not having the media attention, would probably help him. Also, in the past, when the season only started in September, Ronnie used to do very well in the first event of the season: he seemed to need less time than most to brush off the cobwebs.
Judd Trump, on the other hand, has been busy talking to Stephen Henry on Instagram a few days back and it was reported by the press. He insisted that the World Championship can’t be played behind closed doors and wrote Ronnie’s chances off. That was before Barry Hearn announcement.
Regarding that announcement, the dates Barry secured overlap with the dates announced for the postponed Tour Championship. I’m not sure how that’s going to work. Judd Trump is the seed n°1 in both events and all eight players involved in the Tour Championship are seeded at the Crucible, but their seeding could still change.
Should both events go ahead, this means two things:
- That because the draw of the World Championship can’t be made before the definitive seeding is known, it may cause a major issue as it might not happen until the second day of the World Championship is completed, and, whatever happens, it will certainly make the promotional media work extremely difficult.
- Should Judd Trump reach the final in Llandudno, there is no way that he could start his defence on the first day of the World Championship. This won’t go down well will the people who bought tickets for the morning and evening session of the opening Saturday, knowing that the defending Champion was due to play. It may also not particularly please the sponsors and the BBC