Purists will argue that the fact that world No.89 Jamie Clarke knocked out world No.4 Mark Allen proves O’Sullivan wrong. But what about those in the game, who ensured snooker was one of the first sports to be played after lockdown and this weekend will be the first to pick up with fans in attendance for the final so that the interrupted pilot program is restarted.
“I love Ronnie, but I have to say something about it,” admits 1997 world champion Ken Doherty, who is still ranked in the top 64 in the world and therefore, one might say, an unwitting target of the world’s claims. ‘O’Sullivan. “When he made that statement, it irritated me a bit. He’s a genius on the table and whether he likes it or not, he’s an ambassador for our game; it is our talisman.
“But there are a lot of players around that level of the table who would have admired Ronnie, maybe even been inspired to take a signal by him, and firing them wasn’t fair. It’s not fair and it’s not nice. I cannot sit back and let these demands go by. ”
The days of Bill Werbeniuk polishing pints at the same rate he put balls and players smoking cigarettes mid-game are long gone; Snooker is developing at a rate never seen before, and those involved in the game believe it has seized its chance to jump into the limelight as one of the first sports to get back on track after lockdown with a streak. tour events in June.
“I think people were starving, they missed the sport and snooker gave them an opportunity in different ways,” Doherty says. “Being the first to get back on TV, hopefully, get a little more eye on the game and then get the Crucible back before everyone else. I think it’s just a wonderful thing. Everyone from Barry Hearn throughout the system at World Snooker has been amazing. We hope that sport will benefit from this in the years to come.
But with snooker class 92 – O’Sullivan, Mark Williams and John Higgins – all now in their mid-forties, O’Sullivan’s belief that those at the bottom of the rankings are barely competent professionals suggests a challenge to maintain this momentum in the years to come. . Doherty, however, disagrees. “The standard has never been so high – even when Ronnie turned pro it wasn’t that good,” insists the 50-year-old.
“It’s always been good at the top of the game. But deep down it’s never been so good
“Look, no one is as good as Ronnie and people are going to look inferior against him when he’s at his best. But these comments, I feel like they were like spitting on the younger ones and making them feel small. As a man who proudly represents the sport, that doesn’t touch me at all.
World Snooker is trying to get more young people into the game than ever before, but right now a live crowd can witness the climax of the most prestigious snooker tournament this weekend. “We are in poor health as a sport,” Doherty insists. “We are trying to open more snooker clubs and bring the game to schools and attract kids who might not like other sports like football and rugby.
“But anyone who has watched this championship will hopefully appreciate what a great spectacle it has been. Whether Ronnie is in the final or not, it will be great. We’ve all missed that as players, and as an expert it’s weird being camped out in Stockley Park for cover rather than being in Sheffield. But letting the crowds come back this weekend is a nice reward for gamers and anyone trying to take this game to the next level. I didn’t understand Ronnie’s comments, and I think you’ll see these young guys challenge him and keep getting better.