Perrie Mans is 70 tomorrow.
The South African captured the Pot Black title in 1977, was runner-up to Ray Reardon in the 1978 World Championship, spent a season second in the world rankings (although at the time they were based only on performances in the World Championship) and won the Masters in 1979, beating Alex Higgins 8-4 in the final.
Famously, Mans won this title despite not making a half century all week, something that would be unimaginable today.
Mans was a great single ball potter but, obviously, positional play was not particularly his thing.
However snooker, like any sport, has evolved over time.
In Mans’s day, the cloths were heavier, the balls broke less easily and the conditions were not as conducive to break building as today where the players are treated to beautifully fast cloths.
But the game has changed as well because of a difference in approach.
Players such as Jimmy White and Stephen Hendry ushered in the new era of ultra attacking play which nearly all the modern day players now base their games around.
That’s why so many frames no longer begin with protracted safety exchanges but with a player attempting a long red and, if they get it, making a frame winning break.
John Spencer was once big enough to admit that he would need at least 21 start to compete with the players of the 1990s, although we’ll never know how the greats of previous eras would have adapted their games had they come into snooker at a different time.
In the current top 16, Mark King is not someone renowned for centuries but has much of the guile and ability to scrap out results that a player like Mans also possessed.
The truth is, you can’t judge a match or a performance solely on the breaks recorded. A frame in which a player makes two 40s counts the same as one in which he’s made 80.
Some younger players are yet to learn that you don’t have to win a frame in one visit.
Players like Ken Doherty and Peter Ebdon are prime examples of those who know when to attack and when to close up the shop and their longevity is testament to this.
John Higgins has arguably surpassed Steve Davis in the all round stakes as his tactical knowledge is strong and he also scores heavily.
As for Mans, he did little of note after his Masters win, although he did beat Steve Davis at Wembley in 1981. He retired from the circuit in 1987.