Today marks the mid point of what has thus far been an engrossing 888.com World Championship but much of the publicity surrounding the tournament remains negative.
This is partly due to the nature of what makes ‘news’ and partly because of problems in the way in which the sport is administered.
This story in the News of the World highlights growing unrest over player logos. However, the BBC has been unfairly blamed for this is my view.
Their guidelines limit players to two logos but it was not their decision to award one logo space to 888.com. This was down to World Snooker, as Barry Hearn makes clear in the NOTW article.
The BBC has taken a battering over this. A word of warning: if they pull out of snooker the professional circuit as we know it will be dead in the water.
The other major controversy has been the playing conditions.
Anyone who has watched the championship will have witnessed bad bounces off cushions and a high number of kicks.
Why are kicks now accepted as just part of the game?
Why is there no concerted effort to eradicate them?
John Higgins was scathing about the cushions and laid the blame at the door of World Snooker tournament director Mike Ganley for not re-covering the tables before the second round.
World Snooker issued a bland, meaningless statement at the same time that Ganley went in front of the BBC cameras to answer questions from Hazel Irvine, where he admitted he had been “disappointed” by the way the table had played.
“We always try to ensure the best conditions and it’s disappointing to have inconsistent bounces for the players,” he said.
“Years ago we only used to re-cover the tables before the semi-finals but it is disappointing, even if it’s the same for both players.
“We have sheets for the players to fill in after their matches if they have any comments to make. John has done so, as has Peter Ebdon but not many others. The boys need to knock on the door a bit more often.”
Credit to Ganley for being honest enough to admit the conditions weren’t good enough. Much thought needs to go into what will be done at next year’s World Championship because this cannot keep happening every year.
Yes, it’s the same for both players. But if Roger Federer and Andy Roddick turned up at Centre Court at Wimbledon to find the grass had not been cut would their match really be a true reflection of their talents?
Shaun Murphy last night heavily criticised playing conditions but readers of worldsnooker.com, the website of the governing body, would not think so.
Here’s what he said: “We have a gambling sponsor, why don't we take the championship to a casino and have a real game of chance?
"This is the world championship, the gala event we all look forward to. Yes, I'll hold my hands up, I missed some shots I shouldn't have but there were a lot of problems out there that cost me the match.
"It's not just me and John Higgins having a problem with it and it's not just because we lost. It will look like sour grapes but it's not and it will cost other players.
"The comments have been made backstage for days. The cloth is so thin and light it's only good for three days' play.
"After three days you get bad bounces and balls going where they shouldn't be and it makes a mockery of the biggest tournament we've got.”
Here’s what worldsnooker.com quoted: “I just think there are a whole mixtures of things that have gone on that have made the match that way and a lot of talk about the conditions and the playing conditions that we are all under but I’m not really that bothered at losing because I know I’ve played well all season, I’ve prepared as well as I’ve ever done to come to the Crucible, I played well against Dave and I know I played a lot of good shots out there today but the playing conditions weren’t beneficial to me at all.”
Leaving aside the fact that this comes across as gibberish, ‘not beneficial’ does not necessarily mean ‘poor’ and this sort of spin hardly enhances World Snooker’s reputation. Either quote what he said properly or don't quote him at all.
Thank goodness the snooker remains high quality as we enter the second half of the Crucible marathon.