Snooker News

Pedantic Peter

It took almost five hours but Peter Ebdon finally got the better of Ding Junhui in their Australian Open second round clash in Bendigo.

Ebdon has been widely ridiculed for his slow style of play, a method which gave him his ninth world ranking title at the China Open in April, but if it is one thing and one thing only it is effective.

At 38 seconds per shot, the 2002 world champion frustrated his Chinese opponent to the core and finally got his just reward with a cool 70 break in the decider to win 5-4.

Ebdon’s snail-like approach is not for everyone, indeed it is not for most, but there is nowhere in the rule book that suggests you have to play snooker in the same ilk as Ronnie O’Sullivan or Judd Trump.

Players can be warned by referees for time-wasting but it is difficult to ascertain exactly where the line can be drawn for this.

Unless there is a set time allocated – say, 40 seconds per shot – and the referee uses a stopwatch there is nothing really that can be done to prevent methodical players like Ebdon performing as they do.

To the masses, and especially the crowd in the venue, it is obviously boring, tedious viewing that is difficult to enjoy and get into.

However, Ebdon deserves to be lauded for reigniting his career in the last few months – so much so that he is now breaking his way back into the selection of names that get bandied around before each tournament as potential champions.

At almost 42 years of age, this is incredible and ranks alongside Jimmy White’s twilight campaign of 2003/4 and Steve Davis’ runs to the UK Championship final and World Championship quarter-finals in 2005 and 2010 respectively.

That said, it is not unreasonable to expect people – whether it be the armchair fan, a pundit or player – to express their opinion on matters such as these.

Trump himself got into the fold during Ebdon’s marathon encounter by tweeting “How Peter ebdon is allowed to play that slow is a joke”, to which he got shot down by a large section of the snooker community.

Trolls. Not the small fat characters from Lord of the Rings, but the internet phenomenon of people who idly hide behind their devices and, to put it frankly, stir the shit for no good reason.

It is often a misguided complaint that there are not enough characters in the game any more but when someone expresses an opinion, and I don’t mean in a manner á la Mark Allen, there is widespread condemnation, seemingly wishing that they remain robots.

At the very least, it gives us something to talk about which, despite the action on the table rightfully taking priority, does add a little bit of spice to a season still in its infancy.

Elsewhere in the last 16, Neil Robertson disappointed his home fans for a second successive year by falling 5-1 to 6-reds world champion Mark Davis.

It has been a remarkable start to the campaign for Davis after his run to the semi-final in the Wuxi Classic and then his success in Bangkok last week.

The Englishman has been on the circuit for almost 20 years but has never broken into the elite top 16 of the world rankings. That could finally be about to change.

Martin Gould enjoyed another morale-boosting triumph with a 5-4 win over Cao Yupeng while Barry Hawkins, Marco Fu and Matthew Selt also reached the quarter-finals – the latter continuing his love affair Down Under by matching his performance of 2011.

The full draw can be viewed by clicking here.

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