“I DIDN’T play fantastically well,” said Ronnie O’Sullivan after beating Ali Carter last night. It was a comment which summed up this year’s snooker world championship.
O’Sullivan’s below-par performance in the final was not in keeping with his form during the rest of the tournament at the Crucible, but there were few others who shone in Sheffield. It was one of the least memorable championships in years.
The curious progress of Stephen Hendry was perhaps a case in point. Hendry, who last won the title in 1999, looked so far off the pace in his opening-round match against Mark Allen that it was tempting to wonder if the Scotsman’s slide from the top had become irreversible. He avoided a first-round exit – just – and made it all the way to the semi-finals without showing significant improvement.
John Higgins, Matthew Stevens, Mark Williams and Stephen Lee were all gone by the tournament’s halfway point. It was that kind of tournament. When you start getting streakers at the snooker – one man decided to strip and leap from the crowd to do a lap of the table before yesterday’s final session – you know that it’s been dull.
Steakers aside, perhaps the only way to liven up future world championships is to get Brian Blessed to do the commentary. In the wake of the shouting, beardy, mountain-conquering actor’s show-stealing performance guest hosting Have I Got News For You on Friday, I discovered a clip of him on Youtube attempting to commentate on a snooker match during an episode of Room 101.
“Oh calamity! Oh Howl! Howl! Howl!” he shouts as the green gets stuck in the jaws of the corner pocket. If anyone from BBC Sport is reading this (I can assure you no one is), get Blessed signed up for the Crucible next year…