Never in Doubt

Ronnie O’Sullivan last night confirmed his return to the sport by signing the WSL Players Contract and thus enabling him to be eligible to compete in the sport’s biggest events once again.

By refusing to sign the contract at the outset of the new campaign world champion O’Sullivan had first put his season in doubt, but also questioned the life expectancy of the remainder of his career.

But let’s be honest! It was always going to be surprising for him to stay away indefinitely – especially after years of speculation surrounding his supposedly imminent retirement.

When the 36 year-old won his maiden major title at the UK Championship all the way back in 1993 he even threatened to quit the game but it was ironically that tournament that was inevitably going to signify his return.

O’Sullivan has also entered the new International Championship in China, which will commence in late October, but it was the impending risk of missing the UKs in York next December, for which he had to submit his entry form this week, that will have ultimately made his mind up.

In any case, despite the fact that I wrote here prior to his final victory in Sheffield over Ali Carter last May, very genuinely I must stress, that I felt his freshest concerns about the longevity of his time in snooker were more ominous, his immediate reaction following his eventual triumph immediately suggested otherwise.

This was a man who was content in himself, indeed possibly the calmest he had been for a prolonged period of time for quite some time, and in essence all he wanted was a summer break.

Furthermore, his spat with Barry Hearn and World Snooker in late May that culminated in him refusing to sign the contract was a separate incident altogether and should never have been attached to his comments at the Crucible.

What did connect both was O’Sullivan’s persistent desire to cause uncertainty, both within himself and within the game, which is understandably frustrating for many of the other players and fans, as well as even the officials and governing body.

He can be a pest, he can be high maintenance, he can be infuriating and repetitive, but at the end of the day he is box-office material – something that, on the grander, global-sport scale of things, snooker still does not boast enough of.

That is not to say that snooker cannot survive without Ronnie O’Sullivan. Of course it can. But it is foolish to imply that the sport would be better off without him.

Fully rested and judging my his brief comment on Twitter about being happy to be back, it would be no surprise to see as equally sharp an O’Sullivan in 2013 as there was in the second half of the last campaign.

A fifth world crown? Just maybe.

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