Monday, 26 March 2012

The good, the bad and the Hendry

It was another episode from snooker's funny farm in Beijing.

The curtain came down on this year's China Open today and there was barely a dull moment.

Jimmy White represented 'the good' by building on his two wins in qualifying to beat Omar Alkojah 5-3 in the wildcard round and set up a mouth-watering last 32 clash with defending champion Judd Trump.

Picture by Monique Limbos
Although a generation apart, these two great talents are cut from the same cloth. They are two of the best left-handers to ever grace the green baize and are experts in the business of entertaining.

They are two of the most popular, attacking and expressive cuemen to play the sport. Trump is the heavy favourite but this will be a classic nonetheless; a match for the fans.

For Jimmy, it's great to see him back competing at the television stages of a ranking event. Unfortunately the Whirlwind will always be remembered as the nearly man after losing in a record six World Championship finals but he's more than that.

Despite his Crucible heartbreaks he still boasts an impressive 10 ranking titles and is one of the game's greats for his simple ability to dazzle and draw in the big crowds.

Jimmy is the second oldest player on the professional circuit behind Steve Davis (source: Snooker Scene) but this hasn't stopped him competing to retain a respectable place among the top 48 in the current world rankings.

His hard work and love for the sport have helped him stay in contention. While qualifying for Beijing should be classed as a success, it's also a reminder that he's still capable. We're now wondering whether he can do the same to make a romantic return to Sheffield next month.

It was also a good day for 14-year-old Lu Haotian. To be put forward to play as a wildcard card entrant here shows he's a great prospect.

There's no doubt he can play but, today, he was given a different kind of snooker lesson to those he would come across on a practice table or in a junior match.

Ebdon is a wily old professional who knows all the tricks of the trade. He beat young Lu 5-2 but the youngster showed the world he is one for the future and must have learned a thing or two.

Neil Robertson managed to book his place in the last 16 with a hard-fought 5-4 victory against Jamie Cope but still falls into 'the bad' category after sporting an absolutely abysmal haircut.

His barnet was more Bee Gees than that of a young Australian. His curly mop is an absolute howler.

On a more serious note, Michael Holt and Jamie Jones endured a bad day at the office and will go home seething after falling foul to the stinging wildcard round.

Holt lost 5-3 to former professional Li Hang while Jones lost 5-3 to Lu Ning, who also beat Nigel Bond at the same stage of the World Open. There are big calls from fans to scrap the wildcard rounds. While for player's like Lu they serve a great purpose in giving television exposure and good match practice to young players, it feels somewhat harsh to see a former professional sweep up from the successes of the hardworking qualifiers.

Picture by Monique Limbos
Stephen Hendry caused quite a stir in Beijing as well today. The seven-time world champion will be chuffed to bits to have beaten Martin Gould 5-4 to reach the last 16 but it wasn't without controversy.

The Scot looked to have lost in a tense deciding frame.

After missing, he walked away from the table unscrewing his cue as though all hope had gone. But he was reprieved as Gould missed frame-ball red and allowed Hendry to steal the match.

I don't for one minute believe this was an act of intentional poor gamesmanship from the legendary champion but even if only in frustration, Stephen should be experienced to know better.

You can only guess as to whether Hendry's actions knocked Gould out of his rhythm but some say unscrewing his screw should have been his concession of the match.

It still remains unclear and the debate will rumble on but Hendry lives another day at the China Open.

And that was just day one. Bring on tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. i just like to say hendry did not put me off