NEW SEASON: NEW CHALLENGE FOR HENDRY
By even floating the idea of packing it in he demonstrated an unease with his current plight.
Hendry kept his top 16 place – just – but the next seedings cut off point is in October and he is by no means guaranteed therefore to be at the Masters.
Just as important as Hendry’s game this season will be his attitude. If he turns up at the PTCs in the same frame as mind as he did last year then he may as well not bother going at all.
Far be it from me to advise Stephen on anything, but my suggestion would be to treat the PTCs as a challenge because that’s where he’s always done his best.
In this way, the fact that he doesn’t like the sterile cubicle environment could work to his advantage.
The ‘I’ll show them’ attitude that has served him so well in the past is what he needs to rediscover.
And the best way to fall in love with the PTCs would be to win one of them.
I’m glad to hear him say that he will now be going to practise with some of the other Scottish players because playing at home on your own is no way to test your game.
Listening to him talk on the BBC in Sheffield it seemed to me that Hendry has finally reached the position it took Steve Davis a long time to come to: that he’s no longer the player he was.
When Davis came to terms with this he visibly relaxed and started to play well again, at least in bursts.
Unlike Davis, though, there’s no sign that Hendry will change his game, so if he is to be successful again he is going to have to produce a consistently high standard.
Hendry has nothing to prove but doesn’t regard snooker as a bit of fun. Turning up to get a nice round of applause because he’s a legend isn’t why he plays the game.
I heard a story – possibly an inaccurate one – that after floating the idea of retirement at the Crucible he asked backstage if the field for the Wuxi Classic had been set, the implication being he would like to play in it. That doesn’t sound like a man whose thirst for competition has been sated.
Even if this never happened, one thing Hendry has never been frightened of is hard work and he’s not one to turn his nose up at playing opportunities in far off lands. That needs to be his attitude with the PTCs as well.
Another thing that could work in his favour is that his former manager, Ian Doyle, has come out of retirement to take an active role in the new snooker division of International Sports Marketing, who will represent Hendry.
Doyle has never been one to keep an opinion to himself and one of his great skills was in knowing what to say, most of the time anyway, to motivate a player.
The old team is back together, then, and although they both know they won’t dominate the world as in the past, they will take some satisfaction from giving it a go.