Paul McCartney once released an album called 'Chaos and Creation in the Backyard.'

Maybe Stephen Hendry has a copy judging by his press conference in Telford yesterday.

The game's greatest ever player spoke about the 'chaos' in his head when he comes to the table in the aftermatch of his 9-7 defeat to Stephen Lee in the Maplin UK Championship.

It all sounds a bit cryptic but is actually very simple: Hendry plays well in practice because there is no pressure. In tournaments, he is struggling for consistency. His mind is clouded by self-doubt - can he still play to a high enough standard to compete?

Actually, the answer to that question is 'yes' because the standard at the top level is not quite as high as it was ten years ago.

If Hendry can get to the World Championship semi-finals and finish sixth in the rankings not playing at his best then suggestions he should retire are absurd.

The problem, though, is not first round exits or even poor performances.

No, the problem is this: will his best form ever return?

Or will he be consigned to several years of frustration as he fails to perform on the big stage?

Steve Davis reconciled this inner conflict and is now back competing well again, happy to still be able to turn up and chance his arm.

The only way Hendry will free himself of the 'chaos' in his mind is to accept - though it will be difficult - that he may not be a force for much longer.

If he can do so he may play with more freedom and, paradoxically, start to produce some form again.

You write off great players at your peril. Davis played some sensational snooker to reach the UK final just three years ago at a time where he wasn't expecting much. He wasn't trying to force anything or put unreasonable expectations on himself.

Hendry must face the fact that he is fighting the inevitable decline that comes when players get older.

If he can accept that his best days are behind him he may find that he still has plenty of good days to come.


Anonymous said...

Any more news on these match fixing allegations that are breaking Dave?

Anonymous said...

Hendry will return in force!
John H