Days 14 and 15 of “No Crucible”

Today is Jimmy White’s birthday … he turns 58.

Happy birthday Jimmy !

There wasn’t really anything that particularly interested me from Eurosport or WST over the last two days. BBC Crucible Classic matches though were good ones: the 2011 and the 2013 finals. I was fortunate enough to be there both times.

The 2011 World Championship was the tournament where Judd Trump really announced himself on the big scene. Granted, he had won the 2011 China Open a few weeks before, but somehow that didn’t have the same impact. Judd came to the World Championship as a qualifier, and, on day one, sent the defending champion, Neil Robertson, back home. He had no fear, little expectations on his shoulder, played ultra attacking snooker, and toyed with the “naughty, fashionable playboy snooker player”. The press lapped it! He, and his friends, were taking on social media … triggering mixed reactions. The match turned on one shot, the blue along the rail he missed, in frame 22. he could have lead 13-9, instead, it went 12-10. He was still in the lead but, being there, I remember how the whole atmosphere of the match changed. Somehow, from there, it seemed inevitable to me that John Higgins would win. Speaking of atmosphere, the tension in the Crucible when the players were introduced for the last session was incredible. I’ve never felt anything like it, before or after, neither at the Crucible in other years nor anywhere else. The Tempodrom came close at times, but not quite the same.

The 2013 World Final was an excellent match. Ronnie was playing at the highest level, and yet, for the best of three sessions, Barry Hawkins stayed with him. Between them, they had 24 breaks over 50, including 8 centuries (6 by Ronnie, 2 by Barry). But it was not just about scoring: both played hard match snooker and the quality of the safety exchanges was extremely high. You can enjoy the pictures I took at the Crucible that year here. Barry Hawkins is a massively underrated player: at his best, he’s very efficient and dangerous. He has been inconsistent in recent years though. And, of course, at the start of the tournament, nobody was giving Ronnie a prayer. He had only played one competitive match all season, losing to Simon Bedford in the first round of a PTC… Defending the World title in those circumstances was quite an extraordinary feat and probably one of the greatest sporting achievements of all time.