Yesterday’s Eurosport vodcast was about the “Greatest of all times”.
Well, it’s between Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry, and Ronnie, and eventually both Neal Foulds and Jimmy White went for Ronnie, basically for three reasons: he’s won most triple crowns, he’s been a top player for 28 years and counting and he’s done it despite the permanent challenge of the likes of Hendry (for about 20 years), Higgins and Williams. I agree, but it’s a bit of a pointless debate, because sports change over time, as do the conditions, and you can only try to be the best possible in your era, which all three above have done.
It wasn’t the best debate, IMO, with Jimmy insisting from the start that it was Ronnie and not really wanting to consider the others in some depth, adding that Hendry himself would tell them that Ronnie is the GOAT.
The only slightly less usual thing when it’s about the GOAT debate was that both Neal and Andy remarked that John Higgins would almost certainly be in that conversation had he not been in competition with Ronnie and Mark Williams during their entire career. In contrast, Hendry and Davis didn’t really have “close” competitors during their prime years.
The highlight of yesterday to me was provided by Stephen Hendry who had a long, enjoyable and very positive interview with Ronnie on Instagram.
Here are a few things that stayed with me
- Hendry duly introduced Ronnie as the GOAT, which made me smile because of the coincidence with Jimmy’s statement earlier in the day
- For the next two years, Ronnie is considering to play in every event he can possibly play and see if he can get back to his best level.
- Playing well is was gives him enjoyment, not necessarily winning. In contrast with Hendry for whom winning was everything. And also working with Steve Peters, of course, has helped him to cope with playing bad in a less destructive way than in the past.
- His greatest achievement is probably the 2012 World Championship. Why? Because he’s just had a very bad spell, on and off the table, had worked with Steve Peters for a few months, but wasn’t getting the results. He had started to doubt his own ability to win it again. He thought he was finished, and then he won the World for the fourth time. What Peters did fo him is to give him perspective, to get less hard on himself.
- The 1000th centuries… that’s something Hendry really admires.
- Ronnie doesn’t set goals. You just prepare and try your best. Winning tournaments is just a “by-product”.
- Best performance. A final, European Masters, in Le Touquet, where himself and Hendry played each other at the top of their games.
- No regrets about not playing at the Masters. Too close to home, with lots of people asking for tickets. And a lot of media work. Last year during the final the kept him for three hours doing filming and interviews after the SF.
- Preferred tournaments? The Chinese tournaments, because of the hospitality, the way the players are looked after. Shanghai is his favourite. But the travel part is a bit difficult.
- That led them to discuss the “old days” and the atmosphere there was backstage at tournaments and the hospitality. Now the standard of snooker is higher but there is no atmosphere at the tournaments anymore. (both players agreeing on that)
- Best 147? the one against Ding in the Welsh final. And “that” last red to black is probably his best ever shot. The feastest 147 was an “inspirational moment” but not a good break.
- He’d love to win another World. But his private life is/has been a bit complicated and been a “distraction” from snooker. But that’s not an excuse. But yes, he’d love to win another one.
- Not going vegan! Eating more veggies and fruit, yes, but no, not vegan.
- Worst loss. The Masters final against Higgins in 2006. That was hard to take.
- The 1000th century … he would have loved to do it at the Crucible. But, then the opportunity came in a great final, in Preston (the venue of his first title) and he went for it and it was great.
- Teaching, coaching? No, not really, it’s a different approach than playing, a different state of mind. Ronnie not sure he’s got that mindset.
- World Championship behind closed doors? As long as it’s safe … although a Crucible final in an empty arena is a terrible thought. But any type of World Championship would be better than no World Championship.
- No really regret to get to the Players Championship, although that series offers brilliant tournaments.
- Both wondered at the fact that they never played in a World final. Ronnie remembers the 1999 SF, a defeat that changed his approach to the game. It was a very good match, but he went on the defensive towards the end and it was his downfall. A lesson learned.
- Goals? Not really. At this stage of Ronnie’s career, it’s about enjoying it. that’s key to longevity.
- Country Ronnie would love to play in? Iran.
- Praising Trump. Currently, head and shoulder above anybody else. His brother Jack is a big factor in his success. They practice a lot together.
- Talent or hard work? Talent without work will get you nowhere. Hard work without talent, you may win a few, but never get to the highest level.
And they might do another one … so many questions still unanswered.
Here it is:
It was really enjoyable, very friendly and lost of respect between them. And Ronnie’s memory when it comes to his past matches is amazing. Hendry asked him three questions, inspired by Cuetracker, about matches from the 90th and he got all three right.
And the daily “Crucible Gold” about the four “other” maximum breaks at the Crucible.