Sunday, 8 April 2012

Crucible Countdown: Can Higgins defend his world title?

The prospect of John Higgins retaining his world title has already been dismissed by many.

But mark my words, writing off the four-time champion constitutes treading on extremely dangerous ground.

One flick through this season's formbook does suggest Higgins should be nowhere near lifting the trophy for fifth time.

The only major event he's been past the quarter-finals stages of this season was in the Masters, before he was knocked out 6-0 by Shaun Murphy.

In the ranking events, he's been a first round casualty in the PTC Grand Finals and the Australian Open, lost in another four events at the last 16 stage and lost in the other two events where he's reached the quarter-finals.

For a player who a season earlier won three ranking events including the UK and World Championship, this dip in form is alarming.

He's found no level of consistency and has looked completely flat.

Why should we hold any hope for him at the Crucible?

Because Higgins is a rare species of snooker player. While I'm not suggesting for one second that Higgins is able to just flick a switch and become a world beater, I also know he's as tough as old boots.

John has the best B-game of any player on the circuit. With the opportunity to play in the longer format matches at the World Championship, he definitely has enough about him - providing the draw is kind - to bed himself in and play his way into form.

His heroics last season taught me one important thing about Higgins.

He is at his devastating best when his back is against the wall. When he has a reason to win, critics to silence or a wrong to put right, he often produces his best.

Higgins goes to Sheffield this season in the shape of a dangerous package. No-one is tipping him to do well yet no-one will want to play him. He can play free from the expectation of others but driven on by his own hope of winning another world title.

His victory a year ago catapulted him into the highest band of world champions. It's obvious he really wants more, so he has massive motivation. Just like on his return to the sport after suspension where he set his sights on a return to number one in the world, he will crave another world title.

Higgins will be fighting for everything at the Crucible, so don't write him off.


  1. Have to agree with you there Higgins and o sullivan are lethal when their back is to the wall

  2. Can Higgins defend his world title? No, he can't.

  3. I know one thing, tipping Higgins this year is a year out of date. An obsolete view.

  4. I'm not tipping him. I just think it's naive to write him off...