Many felt Jack Lisowski would make an impression as a debutant but it was Michael White who proved the star of the show at the Betfair World Championship yesterday.

White, 21, marked his Crucible debut with a 10-6 defeat of Mark Williams. It is tempting to view this as the passing of the baton from one Welsh generation to another. Indeed, Williams’s first win at the Crucible in 1997 came at the expense of Terry Griffiths, who then retired.

There was much discussion afterwards about the plight of Williams but White deserves some praise. He took his chances in an alien environment, making good on his long held potential.

The BBC dug out an interview John Parrott did with young Michael and Judd Trump from a decade ago in which their boyhood love of snooker shone.

Perhaps now White has the taste for the big time he can start to climb the rankings like Trump did.

As for Lisowski, he was beaten 10-3 by Barry Hawkins but can console himself that many great champions have lost their opening match at snooker’s theatre of dreams.

Shaun Murphy won the long old scrap which was the first frame against Martin Gould last night and afterwards looked a lot more confident and cued really well, winning 10-5.

Ricky Walden completed his heavy 10-1 defeat of Michael Holt, whose frustration rang out in an honest press conference in which he pondered his inability to replicate qualifying form at venues.

Off table, the big news was World Snooker’s decision to write to the BBC and complain about its coverage of Saturday’s closing session.

BBC2 broadcast the Ronnie O’Sullivan-Marcus Campbell match from 7-8pm, coming off air with the scored poised at 9-3 for a 35 year-old edition of the sitcom Some Mothers Do Ave Em. There was no coverage on the red button.

Barry Hearn apologised to snooker fans on Twitter and said he was writing to the BBC.

It is certainly true that the BBC have something of a love/hate relationship with snooker. They made the game popular. They still show many hours of it. This year, their coverage on network television has significantly increased.

The coverage is produced independently of the corporation with great professionalism. In Hazel Irvine they have one of the hardest working presenters in sports broadcasting.

But at other times the BBC gives the impression it is a little embarrassed by the sport. I watched the sports news on BBC1 last night and there was no mention at all of the World Championship, but we heard about pretty much everything else that had happened in the world of sport, including gymnastics and diving.

I am not a fan of the BBC website’s Ben Dirs, the tone of whose articles are all the same: that someone needs to come along and save this silly sport because it is in dire trouble, be it Mark Allen (twice), O’Sullivan or White, who is today rewarded for the best moment of his career with a long, patronising ramble about his physical appearance.

Is it too much to ask that the BBC gives its readers a proper analysis of how snooker has changed in recent years – the good and the bad – rather than constantly presenting snooker as somehow being in peril?

It isn't only snooker fans who pay the licence fee but the decision to leave O’Sullivan’s match at 9-3 was bizarre bearing in mind the amount of build-up to his return the BBC had undertaken. Also, to leave for an old repeat was crass and they surely could at least have stayed for a few more minutes to see if O’Sullivan would win 10-3.

However, the BBC schedule has been known for at least two weeks. World Snooker could have seen this coming. The time to write to the BBC was before the championship began.


Anonymous said...

A few years ago there were two red button channels on BBC Freeview and six on BBC via the Satellite.

Firstly the BBC removed 302 on Freeview, then last Autuma five of the six on satellte.

I posted several times on this forum to say please submit your objections to the consultation. Did you? (answer probably no)

The BBC strategy is clearly to use the internet. If you have a PC, tablet or smart phone, you can still watch both tables for all 17 days. That's how I watched Ronnie win on Saturday night.

Or you could pay a one month subscription to Eurosport - about the cost of a pint of lager in a city pub and get both tables all day & the programmes.

The answer is not Sky - less than a third of homes (approx) in the UK have Sky Sports, two thirds have the internet and a very high percentage of us have smart phones.

And today the Red Button is snooker all day.

Anonymous said...

So let me get this straight - Ronnie didn't play all season because nobody from World Snooker had time to explain the new contract in person, to the reigning world champion.

Or do I just misunderstand.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for mentioning this. Given the editorial resources and attitude it has the BBC website is disproportionately important (probably the most read sports page of any publication in the UK) articles like the Ben Dirs one can do far more damage than pulling the coverage half way through a frame. The stuff that Shamoon Hafez does is just as bad.

I'm afraid the BBC seems to regard snooker as something of an embarrassing elderly relative, and covers it accordingly!

Anonymous said...

He took his chances in an alien environment

Dude, it's a room with a snooker table in the middle of it, not the surface of Mars.

Alan said...

I don't think anyone can fault the production value of snooker on the BBC, as it indeed fantastic.

However you are right Dave in pointing out that it is very strange how the BBC do seem to be embarrassed by the sport.

Even though they know snooker still attracts healthy viewing figures in an ever competitive sporting market, the amount of hours they devote to the sport is never fairly reflected in their sports news coverage as they seem to favour, what the may perceive as, "trendier" sports.

It could be suggested that snooker is still fortunate to have so much televised coverage on the BBC, but that is down to the fact that the sport's governing body have appeared to bend over backwards to accommodate the BBC's requirements, while other sports have chased Sky's money.

It is also a pity that during the World Championship, some BBC journalists seem to join many others in the print media with their low brow approach to the reporting of the sport, and pump out the same old tired clich├ęs which reference to snooker's past former glories and that there are no characters left in the game.

As a public service, the BBC do have a responsibility to give an independent analysis to the viewers and readers about what exactly has changed within the sport and about where the sport is going in the future, instead of resorting to journalistic personal opinion - there are plenty who will continue do that in the rest of the media.

Anonymous said...

Inconceiveable that two professional players can play so poorly. Almost farcical. There should be an enquiry in to Ebdon's performance it is so awful.

Anonymous said...

Personally I think not having the red button option is a total joke, if sky had it they would show every ball of every match and rightly so it's snookers biggest tournament.

NewsfoxSport said...

Yes it's about time Ben Dirs got called to account - he's supposed to be one of these witty, sideways look writers but sadly he's unfunny and crap. Only an unaccountable public service broadcaster would buy a sport event and then, as the blog says, be embarassed about it.

As a fantastic Spectator article pointed out (and as Ive stated mnay times), sports channel bosses don't like, or get, snooker (generally).

The last Dirs article suggested there has been a huge decrease in the number of under 30 qualifiers for the Crucible. That's certainly worth mentioning if true so he's not all bad!

Anonymous said...

The Ben Dirs article on M White today is dire

Anonymous said...

"I am not a fan of the BBC website’s Ben Dirs, the tone of whose articles are all the same: that someone needs to come along and save this silly sport because it is in dire trouble, be it Mark Allen (twice), O’Sullivan or White, who is today rewarded for the best moment of his career with a long, patronising ramble about his physical appearance."

Thank you for writing my exact thoughts.

Anonymous said...

At the moment: Ebdon-Dott going on and on for the toughest viewers:)

Anonymous said...

Anyone with tickets for, or having wagered money on the Dott v Ebdon match, have every reason to feel aggrieved.
No wonder there is a perception that matches are being rigged.
This match needs looking at. No one professional is capable of playing this bad, let alone two at the same time.

Anonymous said...

Ebdon really is the last word in deliberate time wasting and something needs to be done about it. Protracted toilet breaks, constantly asking for the white to be cleaned not to mention the time he takes deliberating then executing his shots.
It is cheating. Simple.

Anonymous said...

Read that Ebdon had been practicing with Ronnie building up to the tournament. He obviously didn't get many shots.

Anonymous said...

I remember a referee, Alan Chamberlain I believe, refusing to clean the white ball when requested by Alex Higgins as he believed that he was being asked too often and on most occasions it was not necessary.
Ebdon should be treated similarly.

Anonymous said...

It's a good sign Ron was practising with Ebbo though, because it means he is anticipating reaching the final and taking on Selby.

Keith said...

I guess the problem is not knowing how long a session will go on. But the "staying a few minutes" to the end of a frame always used to happen until a few years ago.

Perhaps the answer is evening sessions being opening sessions of matches wherever possible, as they seem happy enough to extend daytime coverage.

Red button/internet is just not the same. I actually quite like a bit of Parrott/Davis analysis, better than the actual commentators anyway.

Anonymous said...

People calling a fix are out of order. Ebbo went raw vegan sometime last Autumn - since then his form has been abominable but judging by his posts on 30bananasaday Ebbo is persisting with his raw veg discipleship even though he can't make a 20 break. I was there yesterday - I felt exhausted after watching the (horrific) 3rd frame, Ebbo's ability to drain the life and fight out of an opponent is quite incredible.
I really fear for Dott if he loses this!

The Blog said...

Breaking news from the WC!!!

Dott vs Ebdon

is set for a third session later this evening. It's on target become the longest match in snooker history. Professor of Snooker Stats at Brighton University, Dr Roger O'Bore, said:

"Based on their current speed walking around the table and the length of time it's taking them to pot a ball I estimate the match will end about 5 am tomorrow morning. That's almost as long as one of my university lectures."

Anonymous said...

..should the scheduled number of frames not be completed within the time allocated, then the players involved will be eliminated from the tournament without the right of appeal.

Carlsberg don't do rules, but if they did.....

Brilliant !

Anonymous said...

If Ebdon had an instruction manual, I'm not certain it would be as popular as Ben Hogan's 'Modern Fundamentals of Golf' so, allow me to illustrate the 'fundamental' principals employed by Mr Ebdon :
1. Use the maximum time allowed (no limit) deliberating which shot to play.
2. Use the maximum time allowed (no limit) before executing the chosen shot.
3. Ask for the cue ball to be cleaned as many times as possible during your visit regardless whether or not the cue ball actually needs to be cleaned.
4. Exploit the toilet break regulation by exiting the arena at the end of most frames.
5. Regarding point 4, be in no hurry to return.
6. If undecided as to which shot to play, hit the cue ball indiscriminately as hard as you possibly can while simultaneously crossing your fingers.

Anonymous said...


If eating nuts and berries is destroying what ability he had and given that snooker provides his main source of income, I think I'd be getting myself down to the drive-thru for a Big Mac a bit sharpish

Anonymous said...

Don't agree with everything Mark Allen says but good on him for saying what he thinks.
Wish more were like him. Would be refreshing to hear players thoughts on the big topics. Mr Higgins' Russian expedition for example. Nobody it would seem is allowed to have an opinion on that subject.

Anonymous said...

No-one wants to watch sport whilst craning/huddling over a laptop for hours, giving yourself a future back/neck problem in the process, and watching a tiny screen which gets cut off for 30 seconds every time your neighbour decides to visit an adult video website. What did the idiots even do with the money they saved from almost completely abolishing the red button? Probably either gave themselves an undeserved pay rise, or channeled it into some more rancid, prurient little Channel-4-esque shows on BBC3 about pregnant teens and/or people with "embarrassing bodies".

BBC is the most overrated and bloated organisation in the country, and only survives on its ludicrous mythology which they have spent so much time self-cultivating over the last few years (presumably in unconscious or unspoken knowledge of how worthless they are). In our world of austerity it is to our country and our culture what the Catholic church was to Europe in the Middle Ages. They clearly get rid of the good commentators and keep the rubbish ones on purpose just because they know it winds us up because they want everyone else to be as miserable as their their psychologically damaged, middle-aged, I-came-to-London-dreaming-of-being-the-next-Simon-Cowell-and-now-I'm-working-on-Antiques-Road-Trip lives.

Rishi said...

Really interesting article about the snooker-BBC relationship and I agree with your comments about Ben Dirs. In fact, reading the headlines of his pieces reminded me of your cut-out-and-keep guide to covering Snooker once every 12 months from a couple of weeks ago.

Re: comments on Dott v Ebdon...the Pocket Dynamo wasn't playing too badly to begin with but when Peter is out of form he always digs his heels in and that clearly upset Dott's rhythm. It's certainly not been pretty but that's not Ebdon's primary focus. Winning is.

Anonymous said...

The Blog 1.27pm - oh you're so funny. Comments like yours are indicative of how people these days have such short attention spans. I, for one, do not want to watch session after session of the balls being opened early and players taking on everything. It needs different styles to make thing interesting...something I suspect your blog is not.

Anonymous said...

Wimbledon gets better figures because its shown in prime time not at midnight

Anonymous said...

So, everyone is lamenting Higgins' bad luck.
An alternative and more accurate perspective would be that Higgins used up all his good luck for this lifetime, and the next, during 2010.

jamie brannon said...

Wimbledon gets great figures in the day as well.

It isn't a class thing, the embarrassment that is reflected on the BBC news is probably down to the embarrassment shown in the wider media.

I also notice how the BBC are getting flak for Ronnie call (rightly so), but Eurosport for not bothering with the evening session at all. Are we really led to believe that Speedway is more popular than Ronnie at the Crucible?

Eurosport seem happy to show hours of it, and they should be commended for it, but will bump snooker from the schedules if any other sport needs to be shown.

The problem with the BBC's call on Saturday night was that it wasn't on the red button. Hearn is now taking the credit for it being on the red button from now to the end, but I think that was going to be case anyway.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad he's gone.

Anonymous said...

Long live the King!

As I said before: there are plenty of other Marks quite capable of beating Allen (except Williams).


Hi David. King did well, to lead Allen, 5-4, and win, 10-8.

Davis did well, to beat Higgins, 10-6.

Ebdon grinded with Dott. Dott had a 10-6 win.

Carter did well, to leadWoollaston, 5-4.

Poomjaeng did well, to lead Maguire, 5-3.


Hi David. Poomjaeng did wll, to lead Magire, 5-3.

Dott had a 10-6 win, over, ebdon, Davis did well, to beat higgins, 10-6, Kind did well, to lead Allen, 5-4, and win, 10-8.

Carter did well, to laed Wollasston, 5-4.

Anonymous said...

Ceefax may be gone, but at least we've got Jamie to keep us up to date!

Anonymous said...


Ha, ha.
That, in my opinion was, funny.
12.21 did well, with, that comment.
In, my view, I can't wait, for more, tomorrow.
Tomorrow is, April 25th.
A famous, snooker player, will have been, born on that day in my view.
Happy Birthday in my view.