NEW SEASON: SELBY'S YEAR?
He failed to win a major title despite reaching the finals of the German Masters and China Open.
Being at the business end of tournaments is great for a player’s ranking position but it’s titles they are ultimately remembered for.
At the World Championship Selby set a new Crucible record against Stephen Hendry with six centuries in a single match.
But his challenge waned against Ding Junhui in the quarter-finals and he once again left Sheffield having played at times really well but without the title.
In his cheerful way, Selby took all this on the chin but underneath there must be some anxiety that he is going a long way in tournaments but still not winning them. Remember, he still has only one ranking title to his name.
It’s hardly a career crisis but it will surely rankle a little with Selby that when he turns on the Premier League he won’t be in it, having not won a title last season.
So what’s going on?
Tony Blair, whose snooker background appears to be limited to a victory at Chequers over Vladimir Putin, once claimed he was ‘best when boldest.’ The same applies to Selby.
His attacking game and, more importantly, positive frame of mind has seen him deliver some first rate performances, and have helped him get through to the latter stages of tournaments.
There have been times, though, when he’s tightened up in semi-finals and finals and by his own admission gone a little negative. This is an observation, not a criticism. A player plays the way he feels most comfortable and it’s inevitable that when the heat is really on, caution comes to the fore.
If Selby was going for everything in these finals he could still have lost and then we’d be calling him reckless.
The trick for a player is to know when to attack and when to defend. John Higgins, for instance, is masterful at this sort of game, but when he sees a chance to win he grabs it (just look at the end of the world final when he doubled that pink).
I usually fancy Selby when a match goes close (yes, I am going to call him a master of brinkmanship again) but maybe too many matches go close and this saps his mental energy.
He seems to me to be a pretty strong character and that’s a good reason to back him to bounce back this season and play with a little more freedom at crunch moments in tournaments.
One thing I certainly commend Selby for is supporting the game in a professional way. He played in all the PTCs and next month will be in the Wuxi Classic, World Cup and Australian Open.
We’ll see plenty of him in the campaign to come and with so many tournaments this season it seems unlikely this great talent won’t win one of them.
But I thought that last season too.