2021 Summer CLS – Day 9

Two veterans progressed to stage 2 of the 2021 summer CLS yesterday: Craig Steadman and Gerard Greene. Here is WST report:

Steadman And Greene Into Stage Two

Craig Steadman and Gerard Greene moved into the next stage of BetVictor Championship League Snooker at the Morningside Arena in Leicester after both groups were decided on the final frames of the day.

Steadman recently gained his tour card back through Q School and looked to be match sharp in coming through a group headlined by Thepchaiya Un-Nooh. An early 3-0 rout against Martin O’Donnell set things up nicely before two draws against Un-Nooh and Zhang Jiankang left him with five points.

It was a nervous wait for Steadman as Un-Nooh took on O’Donnell in the last of the action on table 1 where things were level after two frames. Un-Nooh produced a break of 42 in the third leaving only one needed for victory. That frame wasn’t forthcoming though as O’Donnell produced a fantastic clearance of 130, meaning it was Steadman who topped the group.

Table two saw equally complicated permutations in Group 18 contested by Robert Milkins, Zhao Jianbo, Greene, and Haydon Pinhey with it going down to the last frame.

Milkins exited in the afternoon session after back-to-back defeats against Pinhey and Greene, whilst an opening draw between Zhao and Greene left things wide open heading into the evening action.

Zhao picked up his first win against Pinhey with no reply to move to four points and level with Greene, whilst a costly draw against Milkins after leading 2-0 left things in the balance at five points.

Greene knew a win against Pinhey would secure his passage to the next stage, a draw would see Zhao take up top spot.

The Northern Irishman started on the best possible footing with an initial two-frame lead before the fightback came from Pinhey who would finish third whatever the result.

Greene produced the goods in the last frame in the end to top the table: “It was nerve-wracking. A couple of shots and my brain froze on me. I just needed the green and the brown. They were both simple and I didn’t know how to play the green it was shocking.”

“And then I potted the green. Then once again on the brown, I’m going to just drop it, no I am not doing that just play it properly and I’ve overhit it and missed the brown. Sometimes I just miss balls that nobody else would miss. I am very experienced at missing balls! It’s not one for lack of concentration, just sometimes my brain disappears.”

“I think I did alright, I was 2-1 down in the first game and I potted a great black to go two all. I played alright but a couple of shots there that shouldn’t be on TV really.”

On his drive home that’s exactly 147 miles: “It would’ve felt like torture, I’ve thrown a million of those games away with people needing snookers. It’s just stupidity really. I will enjoy it tonight.”

Day 10 of BetVictor Championship League Snooker gets underway tomorrow from midday with reigning champion Kyren Wilson entering the fold in Group 16 with Dylan Emery, Sam Craigie, and Ben Hancorn.

I love and hate watching Theppy: he’s beautiful to watch … until he misses something seemingly straightforward or takes on, and misses, something outlandish. He has all the talent in the world, and is a lovely guy, but he would probably benefit from a bit of mental coaching. Never mind … I still love him.

Of the 18 groups played so far, 9 have been won by players aged 40 or over, and two more by players over 36; Ronnie, Ken Doherty, Barry Hawkins and Ali Carter are the only big names amongst them. Only 6 groups have been won by players aged 30 or younger; those winners are Noppon Saengkham, Cao Yupeng, Bai Langning, Chang Bingyu Alex Ursenbacher and Oli Lines. Only the latter is British. So what does that say about the state of the game, and its state in the UK/Ireland in particular? What does that say about the system? What does that say about the young players?

You know my opinion about the current system: it is far too brutal, it offers no path for development, it doesn’t reward consistency at all, it’s too top heavy, it’s too UK centric. We need to go back to a tiered system, or have a proper secondary tour. In both cases all rounds shound be funded, sponsored and broadcasted. We need to break the “UK bias” and scrap qualifiers entirely. The calendar needs to be restructured so that travel costs are minimised. Every venue should have a proper practice area with enough tables to cover all players (reasonable) needs.

As for the young players, and the young British in particular, what can I say? The whole current UK centric system favours them: they don’t need to expat, they don’t need to live away from their families, they don’t need to travel as much as the overseas players. Yet, none of them seems able to grow into a top player. Why? It can’t be because there is no talent in a whole generation, that’s a statistical nonsense. So why? I’m not trying to belittle anyone, I would love things to be different and I’m interested in getting your views.

You know mine: brutal as it might be, I believe that there is truth in Ronnie’s assessment and that he is right to express it because it’s the only thing that will fire the young ones up if they have the talent, the work ethic, the desire and the determination to prove him wrong.  He would love that. All individual professional sports are brutal, there is never a “soft and easy” path to success.

Stephen Hendry often explained how his manager never allowed him to rest on his laurels, never allowed him to believe that “he had done it”, it was always about winning the next comp, reaching the next goal, lifting the next trophy. Complacency was never a thing in their world. In many ways, Ronnie’s father was/is the same.

The system needs to change, it really does, but for many young players, the mindset needs to change too.



One thought on “2021 Summer CLS – Day 9

  1. My assessment of Thepchaiya was that he was underprepared. I don’t know how long he has been back in Darlington, what his playing facilities were like in Thailand, or what his quarantine situation was like. He’s almost the exact opposite type of player to Noppon Saengkham. Generally it’s difficult to say much about this tournament as many players will arrive with the objective of ‘playing their way into the season’.

    The two Chinese boys did well but ultimately lacked experience. Zhang Jiankang looked very happy to be back on tour after expressing so many doubts and disappointments when his previous spell ended prematurely. He’s obviously put a lot of work into his technique, which was very fragile 3 years ago. He has some way to go but might be able to solidify his position under the watchful eye of Mike Dunn at Q House.

    Curiously, Gary Wilson seemed unaware of Zhang, despite his being based in the north-east. But otherwise, Gary’s commentary was excellent, and it again demonstrates that the broadcasters do not need to rely on the same team time-after-time. Give them the chance!

    Martin O’Donnell regularly starts the season poorly. A few years ago I remember arriving at Preston station on the first day of the season and meeting him there, already returning home after a 4-0 loss to Rod Lawler.

    And Rob Milkins is always unpredictable. He’ll probably get a 147 in his next match!

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