April 22, 2013

‘My Next Match Should Be Sponsored By Valium’ – Shaun Murphy on his Chances

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:36 am

World Championship Day 3

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:41 am
It was all White on the night (well the afternoon anyway)

It was all White on the night (well the afternoon anyway)

It’s Day Three at the Crucible and yesterday saw us lose our first former champion Mark Williams, who was beaten by the brilliant young Michael White. Today we will definitely lose a second and it’s looking highly likely a third will also topple at the first fence.

Yesterday began with Ricky Walden winning the two frames he needed to book himself into Round 2 with his first ever Crucible win over Michael Holt. Holty was philosophical in defeat saying “It’s more of the same from me, I just don’t play well in the big arenas and that was an extreme example. Usually I can play out there but I just missed balls that I wouldn’t miss in the qualifiers and that’s why I’ve never achieved anything.” Ricky in the meantime was delighted to have broken his own personal Crucible curse and you can see what he had to say here, he now faces Neil Robertson or Rob Milkins in Round 2.

That left the stage open for the other table as the wall was raised for the rest of the session and who better to put on a show than Peter Ebdon and Graeme Dott? Well, there are lots better actually but sometimes you just have to put up with what you’ve been handed.

Anyone who followed Deco’s Novelty Bet post to the letter will have had their heart in their mouth and the ankle clips securely fastened during frame one when all we were looking for was a foul shot to land the big bet. It could not have gone any worse early on with Dotty looking at one point like two big scoring breaks would be enough to secure the opener foul-free, but Eboo had other ideas, he strode proudly and peacock-like to the table as only he can at over 70 behind with just 43 left and started doing his thing, laying a snooker which Dotty duly missed to land the bet in bizarre fashion. Never in doubt.

The rest of the session I’m afraid was not quite as riveting, it is always fun to read the social media outlets when Ebbo takes to the baize, he does get a harsh press but I’m sure he doesn’t care one bit about that – I still find him very interesting to watch but I’m a bit weird like that and would probably have attended Victorian freak shows had I been born in another era. However, what everyone’s favourite vegan will care about is his utterly abysmal form, he persists with his bombhead style tip and seems to shake his head after every shot seemingly obsessed with thin cloths and light balls. He finished the session 6-2 down, predictably they weren’t able to play 9 frames in the allotted four and a half hours and surely is destined to be dumped out today unless he comes back as a completely different person, his highest break of the match so far being just 25 with Dott dominating.

The afternoon session was highly entertaining however and the all-Welsh clash saw a potential new star born. Neath’s Michael White did have the odd wobble once he saw his score get to 9 but poor old MJW couldn’t capitalise on the missed chances and it was soon apparent that White was totally in command of the match. The clinical way in which he finished it bodes well for the future and you can see his reaction to his win here. Despite Hazel, ‘Stevie’ and Hendo suggesting that this may be the end of the road for MJW, he simply wished his opponent the best of luck and said he was having a break and then preparing for next season. He’s not ready for retirement just yet and I still think he has a bit more left to give.

Higgins with tongue (lower right of face)

Higgins with tongue (lower right of face)

On the other table John Higgins started brightly against Dark Mavis, you can tell he’s in the mood when he stick his tongue out and there was plenty of tongue action going on as he raced to a 2-0 lead. But our Mave was not going to let John’s tongue dictate matters and his performance from then on was more or less faultless. We saw less and less of the Higgins pinkie and the session ended 6-3 to Mavis, who now looks a very strong favourite to dump John (and his tongue) out this afternoon. Has the Higgins hunger for titles finally fizzled out? Mavis is best priced 8/15 to win the match at Apollobet in running and I’d suggest that is still value on yesterday’s showing, he’s no longer the shrinking violet of old in front of the cameras and Higgins hasn’t looked right since Mave beat him in the UK.

We then moved onto the evening session which saw another young hope Jack Lisowski try and emulate Michael White but fail. He was resoundly beaten by Barry Hawkins in a one-sided match. Neal Foulds made a good point in commentary that for the younger players coming through in big tournaments it is often more favourable for them to draw a big name rather than one they might go in thinking they have a big chance against. Yesterday, illustrated that perfectly and Hawkins bossed the match from very early on, he might not be a big name but he’s far from a pushover. You can see what the man with the all-year-round tan had to say about his victory here. Jack simply said that the venue is unique and very hard to get used to, he stopped short of calling it a shithole though.

The performance of the day without a doubt was Shaun Murphy’s clinical win over Martin Gould on the other table. They came back seemingly up for a really tight battle but that wasn’t how it transpired. When Smurf took a marathon first frame to go 6-4 up he went from strength to strength and looked razor-sharp in finishing the match off 10-5. Shaun didn’t really want to talk about the match afterwards and just sat there lamenting about meandering through the streets of Sheffield waiting to be recognised and how much the tournament ‘got his juices flowing’ (too much information in fairness). Gould simply praised his opponent’s form and quite rightly so, Murphy was fantastic towards the end of the match.

The journalist's best friend.

The journalist’s best friend.

The talk off the table was of the continuing poor coverage afforded to the snooker by the BBC. The assembled press pack at the venue once again reluctantly took to Twitter to find their main story now that Ronnie has left town for a bit and the weight of disappointment amongst the Twitterati even persuaded Bazza himself to wade in and write a letter to the big bad bods at the Beeb about their shameful disregard for the baize. When it comes to Spencer’s they have firmly nailed their colours to Frank rather than the late great John it would seem.

I think there are a couple of things to remember here. Firstly, that the first weekend coverage from the BBC has always been a bit shit because of that daft race in London, it’s just a bit shitter this year because of the loss of most of the red button facility. I know there will be those who say it’s all available online but not everyone has access to this, particularly an older generation of viewer that would probably just settle for watching something else. Also, some of us are sick of watching snooker on a laptop.

The second thing to remember is that Bazza has always stated that as long as the BBC supports the event, it will never be moved from the Crucible. The cynics in town may see this as a cleverly orchestrated plan to do just that, by claiming that the event no longer has a sustainable level of support so bugger you lot, we’re off to China. A sobering thought for bluff-old traditionalists and purists like me everywhere. Let’s just hope that the coverage gets better as we move into the weekdays.

Today will see three more names through to Round 2, with Mark’s Allen and King playing their entire match today. Stephen Maguire starts out against another debutant in Thailand’s Dechawat Poomjaeng, we look forward to some borderline racist jokes for the older generation from Dennis and the gang on that one. We also get our first glimpse of the Captain who takes on the next first-timer in Ben Woollaston, a player who has been climbing up the rankings all season, practices with Mark Selby and is a former PTC winner. The winner of that one faces O’Sullivan in Round 2.

You can view my main betting preview for the tournament and a write up on all the first round matches here.

Also, please keep the Snooker Shrine pictures coming in, there are some corkers in the gallery already here.

Recommended Monday Bets:

2 point treble: Allen (-2.5 frames), Carter (-1.5 frames) and Maguire to make the highest break in the match pays just on 2/1 at Apollobet.

6 points on Maguire to make the highest break in the match pays 1/3 at Bet 365 (Poomjaeng played 60 frames in the qualifiers with a highest break of 82)


Graeme Dott 8-6 Peter Ebdon (coming back tonight)
Mark Allen 4-5 Mark King


John Higgins 6-10 Dark Mavis*
Stephen Maguire 3-5 Dechawat Poomjaeng


Ali Carter 5-4 Ben Woollaston
Mark Allen 8-10 Mark King*

Followed By Dott 8-6 Ebdon conclusion

*Denotes Match Conclusion

Click the banner below to open an account at blog partners Apollobet, your first bet up to a maximum of £20 will be matched with a free introductory bet to the same value. They are fast becoming the number one bookie for snooker so it would be a wise move to get on there.

Apollo Post banner

Thanks as ever to Monique for the main image, you can view her Facebook album from day two here.

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