Day 2 of “no Crucible” and a very good vodcast with Ronnie

For me, the highlight of the second “No Crucible” day is the vodcast that Andy Goldstein did with Ronnie.

Here is the report on this vodcast by Eurosport:

Ronnie exclusive: Trump can dominate snooker for the next 10 years

Speaking on Eurosport’s new snooker vodcast, Ronnie O’Sullivan says that Judd Trump has the potential to dominate snooker for the next decade.

In a wide-ranging discussion with Andy Goldstein about the icons and rivals who have played a part in O’Sullivan’s great career, the five-time World Championship winner said that Trump is now in a position to pick up the baton from the ‘Class of 92’ – O’Sullivan, Mark Williams and John Higgins – and forge his own era of dominance.

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Ronnie on Judd Trump carrying the torch for the next generation

Without a doubt, he plays a different game, he plays a brilliant game, the power play. He plays shots that no one else can play. He’s got the killer instinct, he’s hungry. He’s proven that after winning the World Championships. We all knew it wasn’t a fluke but there’s people out there saying “can he back it up?” He’s come in this season and he’s won six ranking events which is more than any other player has had to do. I know there’s more ranking events now than ever but still to win six is a fantastic achievement. So, for me, he’s a complete player now. He’s just going to get stronger and stronger. It’s like when Hendry came along, and he was pretty much head and shoulders above the rest. I think that Judd is head and shoulders above everybody else at the moment.

Ronnie on Trump’s chances of winning multiple World titles

Easy. In ten years, Judd will have a problem that I’m having now. There’ll be a few young ones come up behind him and he’ll have few battle scars and they’ll keep pushing up. Eventually, if you’re not mentally up for it or you’re just a little bit off you start to lose matches. So, he’s got the next seven to ten years to dominate really. I think it was a lot harder for Trump coming through than it was for Hendry coming through because Hendry didn’t really, apart from Davis, Jimmy on his day, there wasn’t anyone there that was going to frighten him really. Whereas with Trump when he came on you still had Hendry, you’ve got Higgins, Williams, me, Ding. It was hard to come in and dominate from that point on,but I think players have developed a little bit more slowly now. So, you learn your trade and every player gets ten years at 20-30 or 30-40. Judd’s started at 30 and I think he’ll go on to 40 playing some fantastic snooker.

Ronnie on Trump’s rivals

No one, no one. Well I mean if we played five times, I might win one, twice possibly, but he’s just going to get stronger and stronger and I think the best thing to happen to Judd is his brother. If he hadn’t had his brother there maybe Judd wouldn’t have made the changes that he’s made. He owes a lot to his brother and he’ll be the best thing to happen to Judd. I’m glad his brother came along now and not 10 years ago!

Ronnie on the influence of Davis, White and Hendry

Growing up I used to look at them and think they’re the best players around. You watch Steve Davis, he was like a robot, you never thought he was going to make a mistake. Jimmy White – the most exciting player you’ll ever see and could play every shot in the book. So, they were the two yardsticks, if you like, for me growing up. But if I was to watch them playing now in some of their matches, which I do sometimes, I look at it and just think the standard really wasn’t that high. So, it’s just all about perception and people raising the game to a higher level. But at the time, that was the highest level. But then this young Scottish guy Stephen Hendry came along, and he’s probably taken the game to as high… It would be hard to say that anyone has taken the game on further than Hendry. Hendry I still think if he was in his prime, we were all in our prime, he would still be winning many, many titles. So, you look at Davis and Jimmy, yeah fantastic players, but probably not good enough to stay with the current breed of players.

Ronnie on the ‘Class of ‘92′

I knew Mark WIlliams, we used to play each other quite a lot on the Pro-Am circuit. When we were 10, 11, 12,13 we used to go to Hemsby for junior tournaments,so we knew of each other. But the first time I’d seen John Higgins he was fourteen, so I hadn’t heard of him. The first I’d heard was that this Scottish kid had nearly had a 147 in the home internationals. So that was the buzz going round. I didn’t even know what John Higgins looked like but after we heard that we had to watch him play, and watching him play I thought this kid looks super, super good. Then from that moment on, I knew John Higgins was going to be a class, class player. So that was my first encounter with John Higgins but the rivalry from that day really has been on between the three of us. There was a lot of good players around, but we were hungry, we had the desire. We loved it, we wanted it. For a lot of snooker players, it was just a bit of a lifestyle, they used to go round there and have a bit of a laugh and a joke. But we took our business seriously. But I think it helped that the three of us came through together because I think we all motivated each other to try and do better. If one of us was doing well it would always spur the other one on to do well. So, it was a healthy rivalry really.

Ronnie on the added excitement of playing Williams or Higgins

Of course, we’ve been playing each other for nigh on thirty years. It’s always nice to see Nadal play Federer or Federer play Djokovic. Their careers, and their ages, and their statistics are so evenly matched that none of us have got anything to prove and the chances are that it’s nice to see greats play each other I suppose. So, I get why it’s exciting.

Ronnie on Mark Selby

I always thought Mark was a great match player. I watched him play and I could tell he was going to be a good player. But I see a lot of his faults, I had the same faults in my game that I think he had in his game and I knew how much of a struggle it was for me to try and play with those faults. One day you thought you were great and the next you were terrible, and that up-and-down inconsistency can mentally get to you. So, while I knew he was a fantastic player I never expected him to be able to go on and be as successful as he was. At one stage I said I didn’t think he’d ever win the world title because to win the world title you really can’t afford to have a bad session. But what Mark’s been able to do is that he’s able to play bad but he’s also able to make the other player play badly. I was never able to do that. If I played badly, balls were all there ready in the open and the opponent would just hoover them up. Whereas when Mark was playing badly there’d be balls on cushions, and you’d think where do I go from here? So, he was always able to play himself and stay in the matches. So, he found a way to still be able to win when you’re playing badly, and I never thought snooker could be played like that. I know Mark doesn’t like playing like that but if you sometimes have to do that to get the result and get to the next round you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do and no one in the history of the game has been better at that than Mark Selby. So, you have to take your hat off to him really.

Ronnie on his main rivals going forward

I don’t really put myself in to have a rival. You want them to be similar eras, it’s hard for me to be a rival with Ding or Trump because they’ve got 14 years on me. I just always think that I can still give Selby a game, I can still give Murphy a game, I still think I could probably give Neil Robertson a game because the age difference is not that different to me, John Higgins and Williams. But I just think when you look at the younger ones it’s a little bit harder because they’re so hungry and they’ve got so much desire. Every match that they play a John Higgins or a Mark Williams or a Shaun Murphy or a Neil Robertson, they might lose but it’s just a learning curve for them. So, it’s just making them stronger and stronger. Like me playing Hendry at the end of his career, I was getting a lot from it where it was doing him no good. I think eventually you get to the stage where it’s hard for you to keep battling away. So, for me my situation is just to keep playing for as long as I can really and hopefully, I can still win a few tournaments every now and again.

A very interesting interview. Of course, the written article puts the subject that is more likely to catch eyes first, although it’s the last one they discuss in the vodcast, but, really all are interesting.

One thing I feel listening to Ronnie out there is that he doesn’t have the hunger anymore that he had as a younger player, which, of course, is normal. However, that being the case, he will probably not win that much anymore and we, as fans, will have to accept that. Of course, he still has the desire, and the hunger might come back stronger in spells, and probably will. But he’s going to turn 45 this year, and his longevity has already been remarkable as it is. I hope, and believe, that he has more titles in him, although probably not a World title. We should just try to enjoy every match, and every victory while he is still playing, without putting too many expectations on him, and be grateful for everything he gave us over the years. It’s easier said than done… I know that only too well.

Ronnie said that he hasn’t really pot a ball for weeks. He’s not the only one. Higgins said the same. It’s hard to practice when there is no definite purpose and it’s even harder when you have been doing the job for nearly 30 years. When snooker comes back, be it in July or later, nobody will be match sharp. It could be interesting because it could well come about “how good enough is your bad/rusty game” rather than about “how good is your best game”.

Then the “Crucible Gold” on the day was about Hendry’s maximums

Incredibly, I was at the Crucible when the last one happened and I missed it because I was taking pictures on the other table. The curtain was down of course. By the time, I realised that something unusual was happening, it was too late. The “snapper box” on Hendry’s table was packed of course. I was just able to witness Hendry’s celebration on the TV screens in the media room. He was quite animated which was uncharacteristic. Of course, we came to understand Hendry’s unusual display of emotions a few days later when, heavily beaten by Stephen Maguire, he announced his retirement. He just came to the media room, sat down and quietly said: “I have played my last professional match”. For a few seconds, the media room went completely quiet, everyone was stunned. Hendry then calmly explained that he had taken the decision months before and had only spoken about it to a few chosen ones. He had given himself a season to see if he could get back near his best, he hadn’t, he didn’t want to continue to play if he wasn’t able to be a winner.

Also, this interview with Hazel Irvine was shared on social media.

It’s a short, but great piece. It was made last year just after the World Championship. Hazel is the ultimate professional, and yet, remains just very simple, friendly and approachable.

The BBC also reran the piece about Alex Higgins, “The People’s Champion”. I gave that one a miss. I understand how important the man is in the context of snooker and how he changed the perception the general public had of the game and made it popular. I can see why his daring style and swag fascinated. But, quite honestly, I can’t stand the person he was, and, sorry, mental health issues can’t the excuse for everything and anything. Reading his autobiography didn’t change my opinion. There were far too many episodes of violence, nastiness, selfishness and sheer dishonesty for my liking. He never accepted responsibility for his own faults and shortcomings, and too often spat in the face of those trying to help him.

Related to the last sentence above, there is an article by Jason Francis in the first issue of the Chalk, a new cuesports magazine, about his experience with Alex when he started the “Snooker Legends”.

 

4 thoughts on “Day 2 of “no Crucible” and a very good vodcast with Ronnie

  1. Ronnie has also been talking about how he figures he wasted 9 or so seasons of his career, while partying too much or being distracted with family problems and such. Not that we didn’t essentially already know that, but it’s always nice to have it acknowledged by credible sources that Ronnie should have won a lot more tournaments than he has, based on his talent level…

    I agree that we have to adjust our expectations going forward. I think that Ronnie could still be at least the 2nd-biggest winner (behind Judd) on tour if he really wanted to, but he seems to have lost the motivation that drove him during the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons. He seems content to play a limited schedule, not put much pressure on himself by trying to win, and go home after making it to the 4th round or QF.

  2. I was 9 when Alex Higgins beat Ray Reardon in 1982, and I was an absolute fan-boy. But as I got older and started to play myself, I became dissolutioned with him as a player and as a man. Although I was never a ‘fan’ of Steve Davis, I developed an enormous respect for him. Higgins’ problem was not so much ‘mental health’, but addictions to alcohol and gambling, and he completely self-destructed. Even by the 1980’s, it was all very predictable.

    Indeed I would say he cured me of ‘fan-boyism’. My ambition is for the game of snooker to expand and become a major global sport. I do support players, particularly young players, and enjoy watching them progress to the next level. But after a couple of years I switch focus to others, which is a very sustainable way to enjoy sport!

    Incidentally, I don’t think we should be talking about Judd Trump as a ‘young’ player. He’s right in the middle of his career. There were no young players mentioned in the above interviews.

    • I agree Lewis, Judd is no more a “young” player, but he’s probably “young” in the eyes of those who are mid forties or about. The problem is that, except for Yan Bingtao – who for some reason doesn’t seem to appeal to most fans – there are NO young players really coming through. Zhou and Zhao are on the brink but no there just yet. Even Kyren Wilson andJack Lisowski aren’t that young anymore. It’s quite incredible that back in 2001 people were worrying that Ronnie would possibly never win the World Champs … and he was only 25.

      • This season I was pleased to see some non-Chinese players coming through who are ‘quite young’, such as Scott Donaldson. Joe O’Connor had a difficult second season after a promising debut. Jackson Page has shown potential, and really is young.

        The Chinese players could face upcoming travel difficulties which might damage their progress. The majority have returned to China and had to endure 14-day quarantines (some of them twice: on arrival and then another after an internal flight). And then subsequent movement restrictions or lockdowns. The nightmare stories make it quite likely they won’t want to go through any further travel in 2020. Yan Bingtao has stayed in UK, and will probably be the main focus for Chinese fans whenever snooker starts again.

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