Thursday, 14 July 2011

Hard work ahead for England

As a proud Englishman, I'm flying the St George's flag this week hoping to see Mark Selby and Ali Carter lift the snooker World Cup.

It's difficult to read anything but positive messages from their performances so far - but the hard work hasn't even started yet.

The English duo have won 11 of their 15 frames played in the last three days steamrolling past Brazil, Belgium and India.

Selby has been the better player winning all six of his singles frames played, contributing to more than half of England's group stage points tally so far.

While Carter has slipped up twice against Belgium's Bjorn Haneveer and Luca Brecel, it's been the doubles format they've struggled in most with defeats to both Brazil and India. It's not going to get any easier as the opponents become stronger, but you do get the feeling the form guide is thrown out of the window in that format.

All in all, it's been a solid start from England's boys. But they're not alone with five teams still preserving an unbeaten record four days into the competition. We must also remember that their opponents haven't exactly been much to write home about either. But tomorrow they face Northern Ireland, who like them, have also won their opening three matches relatively easily.

Although qualification for the knockout phase is already virtually guaranteed, it will still be their biggest test of the competition so afr - and interesting test of their longevity in this tournament.

After that, they'll advance to the quarter-finals, and there really will be no easy games from then. The warm-up is over. Now, they must get down to business with four matches between now and lifting the trophy.

A good team spirit between Selby and Carter tells me they have as good a chance as anyone of winning the tournament but news on World Snooker yesterday maybe suggests otherwise.

Ali said: "I haven't felt that well all day and my guts have been bad and my Crohn's Disease has me feeling lethargic.

"I've played lots of matches feeling lethargic and still playing well.

"It's frustrating and it's been bad for three or four days with my stomach just feeling bloated and it's uncomfortable bending over the table."

Those comments don't bode too well because if England are to go on and win this tournament, they'll need both players in top form to beat some top teams in front of them.

Time will tell. But for now - come on England!

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