3.5.08

CRUCIBLE 2008: THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY

As we approach the final of the World Championship, let's look back and the high and low points of the greatest snooker show on earth.

THUMBS UP FOR...

- Liang Wenbo
Yes, his shot selection was at times suicidal but he was a refreshing presence in the tournament. He became a cult hero after walking into the arena unannounced for his second session against Ken Doherty and proved his fighting qualities by prevailing against Joe Swail in the most exciting of all the matches thus far.

- Brendan Moore
This was Brendan's first time refereeing at the Crucible and I was very impressed with him. Definitely capable of taking charge of the final in future years.

- Close finishes
You can't beat the Crucible for drama when a match goes close and, in the first round in particular, we had a number that did: Hendry v Allen, Ebdon v Cope, Davis v Bingham to name but three. Davis's comeback was a joy to watch, even if he did fall short in the end.

- Ronnie O'Sullivan
On and off the table, O'Sullivan has been exemplary. The standard he produced in taking all eight frames from Stephen Hendry in the second session of their semi-final was up there with the all time great performances at the Crucible. His 147 was an exhibition of sheer natural talent.

- Ali Carter's 147
Carter has been guilty of slipping up at important moments throughout his career but was cool personified in completing a maximum break just a day after O'Sullivan made his. Some break it was, too, not least the final black, which would have been a pressure ball to win a frame, let alone for a 147.

- The sponsors
I thought whoever took over from Embassy would struggle to establish themselves as the recognised sponsor but 888.com have been so enthusiastic that they've managed it. I'd even argue that they've helped to reinvigorate the event over the last three years without it losing its essential heavyweight status.


THUMBS DOWN FOR...

- Conditions
Once again, the middle part of the tournament was overshadowed by complaints about playing conditions. It seems logical now to re-cloth the tables on the first Wednesday as well as the middle Sunday and second Wednesday. This would surely lessen any complaints at next year's championship.

- The Joe Swail-Liang Wenbo controversy
Swail didn't do himself any favours, although, in his defence, he was speaking minutes after suffering a very disappointing last gasp defeat. The fact is, the referee - in this case Alan Chamberlain - asked both players if they were happy the balls had been replaced properly. Swail said he was and, if he had not been, should have said so in the arena.

- MC Rob Walker's 'Let's get the boys on the baize' intro
I wouldn't fault Walker for his enthusiasm but I can't be the only person who finds this catchphrase annoying. Last night, we had two of snooker's greatest champions playing. O'Sullivan and Hendry are not 'boys' they're all time greats. Plus, the crowd does not need to be whipped into a frenzy when they basically have to be quiet for the best part of three hours.

- The strike 'threat'
Possibly the biggest non-story of the championship was the idea that top players will put down their cues because of a row over logo spaces. They won't. Simple as that.

- Football
Interested though many of us were in the Champions League semi-finals this week, there is a section of the media who seem to believe sports coverage should begin and end with football. After his epic win over Stephen Maguire, Joe Perry was asked by a journalist how it felt that nobody had been watching because they were all tuned in to Chelsea v Liverpool. Apart from this being obviously wrong - not least because the snooker was still going on a good hour and a half after the football had finished - Joe had every reason to feel aggreived having just pulled off the win of his career.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yet again it has been a very good tournament.
I agree that Moore was an excellent referee and is surely destined to take charge of many finals.
Sorry but I have to disagree with your Swail/Liang comment.One of the great things about snooker is the total honesty of the players and you hardly ever see one questioning the repositioning of the balls after a miss.Liang was very entertaining but let himself and the game down by refusing to admit the cue ball had been replaced incorrectly.I don't want to start a controversy here but I hope this isn't a sign of things to come(some foreign players have spoilt English football with their cheating.)
One final good thing about the tournament was the performance of Hendry.He won most of his matches by using his brain(less reckless shot selection)and if he continues to do this,and improves his mid to long range potting,he could well win another ranking event.
The way he handled what must have been a shattering defeat was exemplary.O'Sullivan will likely get all the credit(and his play certainly deserves to)but it is great to see snooker's greatest champion back.Let's hope it isn't a false dawn.
Des

Anonymous said...

I agree with most of what you say David and especially with regard to Rob Walker. He appears to have little feel for the game and its traditions. His fist pumping and self-publicity centred approach grates with regular spectators and contrasts poorly with the relaxed and professional approach of Mark Johnston-Allen who did the first 3 days. Please could he do this full time in the future.

Matt said...

I disagree on Rob Walker as while I don't think that he is perfect, he is an absolute breath of fresh air to Richard Beare who was absolutely appalling. Nobody listened to a word he said because it was the same dull and unimaginative lines every single day and he just couldn't get the crowd going.

Rob Walker at least gets everybody smiling, keeps people interested and is exactly what snooker needs at the moment.

I did prefer Mark Johnston-Allen, but Walker is just so much better than Beare that I'll take it!

Anonymous said...

Re Rob Walker
When you have a distinctive MC such as Alan Hughes, it's always going to be difficult to find an MC to follow it up - the fact that we've had three different MC's since his departure would suggest that.
However, I think Walker has been the best so far of the ones who have replaced Hughes. At least he gives energy and enthusiasm to the role and since he has been in place for less than a season, will get better over time.

Sam T

Anonymous said...

Mark sebly let me down~

Anonymous said...

If Walker drops his new catchphrase and treats players with a little more reverence and a little less hype he can stay the course and do very well- he handled the exhibition afternoon on saturday well when faced with disappointed spectators who had payed a lot of money for no live play and no option of their money back.
John H

Anonymous said...

With regard to Rob Walker I could not agree more. I found his "catchphrase" very annoying, and after talking to a number of friends they expressed the same opinion. Mr Walker if your reading this tone it down and I’m sure you’ll do well.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible that snooker, like darts, could embrace it's cheesy side and become more popular as a result? The gentle teasing of comedians Mitchell and Webb is spot on, and Rob Walker by being distinctively cheesy could help raise the game's profile again. This is a game that lets a punter present it's most valuable prize - it needs a shot in the arm!

Robert said...

I agree with your comments about Rob Walker and think he should stop trying too hard. He is only introducing the players and *not* a feature of the event. His style is reminiscent of someone desperately trying to gain popularity, which is frankly cringe-worthy. Why should snooker be cheesy? As a sport it does not need a gimmick to make it successful. If snooker needs a shot in the arm then look to develop the six-ball game for youngsters.

Deep Screw Col said...

Nope, very happy with Rob Walker thankyou very much. This 'whipped up into a frenzy' business is exactly what modern snooker needs.
"That'll do now. Settle down now please!"