Before this year’s World Championship, Ali Carter had appeared in only two ranking event semi-finals during 12 years on the professional circuit.
He has now figured in a final and two semi-finals from the last four ranking events.
Those two semi-finals saw him lose narrowly in deciders despite playing about as well as can be expected. Ronnie O’Sullivan pipped him in Belfast and Ryan Day in Glasgow.
Can Carter win a ranking title?
I see no reason why not. There were question marks over his temperament but, for me, they were dispelled when he completed his maximum break at the Crucible.
The final black was missable had he needed it merely for the frame but to knock it in for a big money 147 was proof that, under pressure, he can respond.
What Ali lacked was confidence and this was largely because there was so little snooker to play in.
So little, in fact, that he took a commercial airline pilot’s course for something to fall back on. He also bought a snooker club in Chelmsford which he helps to run.
Without question, the turning point came at the Championship League, a relatively relaxed new event that nevertheless offered large financial reward and, crucially, high quality practice opponents.
Carter did well – very well – in this and it toughened him up for the Crucible.
He is now fifth in the provisional rankings and has at last found the consistency he had been looking for.
He’s a confident sort and this will help him as he searches for his first ranking title.
Will it come in Bahrain? Obviously, the none appearance of four top players will be a help but ultimately it will come down to – as any tournament does – taking the chances when they come along.
There are still many top quality players heading for the Gulf. Carter has as much chance of bringing the trophy back as any of them.