Perhaps the most unfortunate aspect of Mark Allen’s comments about the Chinese at the Crucible was that it overshadowed a significant breakthrough appearance by Cao Yupeng.

He had played superbly to reach the final stages, pulling off victories over Kurt Maflin, Dave Harold, Nigel Bond and Tom Ford.

Several Chinese players are auditioning for the role of understudy to Ding Junhui. Liang Wenbo seemed to have got the part – indeed almost overtook Ding in the rankings – but has fallen back again.

There are various contenders: Xiao Guodong, Li Yan, Tian Pengfei and Yu Delu among them.

But Cao has made good on his fine finish to last season by qualifying for the Australian Goldfields Open, where he plays Ali Carter today.

It’s one thing to get good results in the qualifiers, quite another to do so consistently at the main venues and another still to do so on TV. This is what separates a top 16 player from the rest.

So Cao’s progress will depend on how he fares in matches such as the one awaiting him today, against the world finalist.

Shaun Murphy, as a very young professional, was someone who always impressed me in the qualifiers but took a few years to break through at the venues.

When he did, of course, it was sensational and he’s looked comfortable in the limelight ever since.

Shaun plays Marcus Campbell today, a potential banana skin after Campbell’s first ever semi-final appearance at the Wuxi Classic.

I like Marcus because he looks like someone who’s spent plenty of time in a snooker club. I’m wary of PR initiatives based on selecting young, good looking players to ‘freshen up’ the appeal of the game (anyone remember the Hotshots? No, didn’t think so.)

No, give me Campbell and his old school manner, his green baize pallor any day. He’s a stubborn presence on the table and has the capacity to be a cult hero off it, already the ‘pride of Dumbarton', a boast not everybody can make.

The crowds weren’t great early on yesterday but the fare wasn’t either. It was much better for Neil Robertson’s win over Nigel Bond.

Tournament organisers of course want full houses but they are more interested in TV figures, and this event is going round the world.

Still, it was good to see Dave Jackson, a stalwart of the front row of the Crucible for more than two decades, sat with other devout members of Australia’s snooker community.

No cynicism or sniping from them, just a pure love of this great game.


Anonymous said...

David Byrne (Talking Heads) is also a frontrunner in the Pride of Dumbarton stakes.

Janie Watkins said...

Yes. great to see Dave Jackson and some other familiar faces from the Aussie snooker scene.

Many have worked tirelessly over the years in Aus to help grow the game and thanks to those volunteer officials there is a thriving junior and senior series of events across the various States, and Nationally.


Hi David. First thing's first. Happy birthday for toay mate. Working on you're birthday... No rest for thw wicked.

Murphy did well to beat Cambell 5-4, having led 4-1 and being pulled back to 4-4.

Cao was great to lead Carter 4-0. Carter pulled 3 back. The youngster did well to clinch a 5-3 win.

Having trailed 4-2, Holt plated great to level at 4-4 with Ebdon. Ebdon did well, to win, 5-4.

Selt made great steals, to lead the defending champion, Bingham, 2-0. Bingham played well, to lead, 4-3. Selt won the final two frames. A great 5-4 win for him. The defending champion is out.

A great day's play. I can't wait for more, tomorrow.