World Cup for China

Ding Junhui and Liang Wenbo claimed the 2011 World Cup for China after a 4-2 triumph over Northern Ireland in Bangkok.

Earlier in the day, China had overcome top seeds Wales 4-1 in the last four while the Irish edged out Hong Kong in their second successive deciding frame thriller.

Fourth seeds China had begun the week in inconspicuous fashion with a pair of nervy 3-2 victories over Malta and United Arab Emirates in the round robin phase.

However, a similar scoreline over the Australians – who at that stage were dominating Group B – inspired the Chinese duo and they completed the rest of the tournament without a single blemish to their name.

Barring a minor wobble in frame five, China were in complete control of their destiny in today’s final against Mark Allen and Gerard Greene.

They raced into a 3-0 lead, sparking an opportunity to inflict the first whitewash of the knock-out rounds following some excellent snooker.

However, the Northern Irish partnership has flourished this week as their positive attitude and jovial relationship with each other remained throughout.

Gerard Greene knocked in a superb century break of 109 to get his nation on the scoreboard while team-mate Allen capitalised on a rare mistake from Liang with a 69 to reduce the deficit to only one.

Greene, though, missed an early chance of a red in the subsequent doubles frame and Liang and Ding, confidently composed, shepherded one another to a memorable triumph in a single visit.

It is just reward for a country that has done so much for the sport in the last decade and the accomplishment will surely be well received back in their native land.

China has been enjoying a boom in snooker with the successes of Liang and especially Ding and this victory reiterates the potential for even greater success over the coming years in Asia.

The importance of the victory was clear to see as the naturally boyish character of Liang rubbed off on his compatriot Ding, normally a poker faced competitor but someone that has clearly enjoyed playing alongside his friend and countryman over the last few days.

Overall, the event in Thailand was mixed in both quality and entertainment with some tweaks definitely needed if the World Cup is to become a permanent fixture on the snooker calendar.

That said, team events and, in particular, international tournaments are very welcome indeed and add a thoroughly different perspective of the game from the eyes of the players and the fans alike.

Next up is the Australian Open in Bendigo – the first ranking event of the new season.

Two years ago, we were waiting months in between events. The championship Down Under begins in less than nine hours. Not bad, eh!

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