Jamie Jones ended last season in a whirl of excitement and acclaim.
The bequiffed Welshman beat John Higgins in the PTC Grand Finals, knocked Shaun Murphy out of the World Championship in the first round and reached the quarter-finals on his Crucible debut, where he ran Ali Carter very close.

The acclaim he received was justified. He’s not only a fine talent but also has a great attitude. He is, I suppose, a breath of fresh hair.

Today, Jones begins the new season in Sheffield a few miles from the Crucible but light years away in terms of the atmosphere.

These cubicles are not much fun. There’s room for a mere smattering of spectators. It’s completely devoid of atmosphere and you could play the greatest shot the game has ever seen and receive little more than a tap on the table from your opponent.

But it’s still a very important place. Qualifying is about producing players not only for the final stages but who will no longer have to qualify in the future.

Every star snooker has ever had has had to come through the qualifying, whichever set-up has been in operation.

Jones is certainly going to be one to watch this season. That in itself puts additional pressure on him but players tend to respond more to their own expectations.

Jamie knows he is under more scrutiny than ever but he will be looking to do himself proud first and foremost.

He plays Rod Lawler this afternoon. Lawler is a tough-as-old-boots pro of some 22 years standing who fought through the Q School to keep his place.

He is match fit and has already won two qualifying matches this week. It’s a clash of styles and Jones, coming in cold, is not a certainty regardless of his form at the end of last season.

But what an exciting time for the young man. Sport is all about grasping the opportunity. There are many now in snooker and the time is ripe for new stars to emerge.

Jones knows this could be a very significant season for him. And it starts today.

1 comment:

Adrian Scott said...

Good article. I'm liking the use of the word 'bequiffed'. It's easy to forget how hard the players work at this very difficult game. Good luck Jamie hope to see you on our screens soon!