Stephen Hendry’s retirement hokey-cokey at the Crucible served to underline the fact that he is very much on the back nine of his career.

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.


Betty Logan said...

Steve Davis was at a slight disadvantage over the last decade because if you suffer from inconsistent form then 5/6 week lay-offs between events isn't exactly going to help your cause. Hendry can play every week if he wants which might help him maintain good form when he hits it.

Another thing Davis realised is that you have to stick around—no point hitting form in the qualifiers if it's gone by the venue stage. Hendry is an attacking player and he won't want to play like Davis, but he needs to bag those first round points if he's going to stay in the top 16.

The main thing he needs to do is re-commit himself to the game. That means practising 6/7 hours a day, entering all the events and it will require personal sacrifices. That's the only way he can possibly turn it around. If he doesn't want to do that at this stage of his life then his decline is inevitable.

wild said...

if he plays in every event starting in less than 2 weeks he wont need that 6 or 7 hours practice.

what left hendry at a disadvantage last season he did not enter the first few PTC so he wasent seeded in the top 64 and therefore got drawn against players that had got wins under their belts feeling confident in the first round.

he needs to play as a top 64 seed whitch the first 4 PTC will be for him and get good results against the field to stay there and build up confidence for PTC 5 to 12.

Anonymous said...

Dave, do you know if Lee Doyle will be working for ISM too?

Anonymous said...

What Hendry needed at the crucible was for someone like Davis to sit him down and tell him that he's still beating all the journeymen and lower ranked players and that his standard will never be what it once was, it's been good enough to keep him in the 16.
Davis realised in the late 1990's that his time was over and with his status as a legend secured,all he needed to do was have fun at the tournaments, hence his 2002-2006 resurgence.
The only players Hendry is losing to are those ranked inside the top 8, like Davis in the mid to late 1990s. There was never any need for Hendry to float retirement this soon. What he does need to do is enter every single PTC event and treat them with the respect they deserve. The points he could earn from them may well be what sends him to the Crucible automatically next year.

Anonymous said...

International Sports Marketing

not management?

Anonymous said...

"Dave, do you know if Lee Doyle will be working for ISM too?"

One would hope not, if they wish to remain solvent...

Anonymous said...


Dave H said...

I don't believe Lee Doyle is involved with ISM but the Mail on Sunday reports he has set up a new company with...Sir Rodney Walker!

Betty Logan said...

On the subject of declining greats, don't know if anyone caught this Davis interview in the Eveneing Standard during the world champs:


It's an interesting read, especially on the subject of O'Sullivan.

Anonymous said...

"I don't believe Lee Doyle is involved with ISM but the Mail on Sunday reports he has set up a new company with...Sir Rodney Walker!"

What are they going to do, milk expenses and commission out of themselves?

Betty Logan said...

Apparently they're going to buy 49% of World Snooker and 10% of Matchroom Sport to give them a controlling share in the game. That's how Cliff Barnes bought out Ewing Oil from under JR's nose.