Returning after the success of last year is our inconspicuous snooker aficionado, Free Ball.
Throughout the World Championship, this unnamed follower of our beloved sport will provide a few musings on some of the not so well documented happenings in Sheffield – mostly from the luxury of his/her own settee.
The main talking points obviously surround the snooker played in the arena but there’s plenty of other things, both useful and useless, to take note of during a tournament of this extremity and length.
Read below for the latest offering, but who is behind the Free Ball?
By Free Ball
There was a bit of confusion last month when Stephen Hendry popped up on ITV’s snooker coverage. Had he gone over to the other side? ITV has certainly progressed brilliantly the last while with our beloved sport, albeit with a slightly dithering Jill Douglas at the helm.
Yet, to have stolen the seven times world champion from under the BBC’s nose would have been quite the coup – especially just before The Crucible showpiece. But as we all now know, they didn’t.
Something different was put in his teacup though. Hendry couldn’t stop talking in the comm-box! Gone were the frames of silence. The likes of Taylor or Virgo getting the cattle prod out to stir the beast into punditry looked a thing of the past. Even whilst working with Phil Yates, he was getting his tuppence worth in. With Phil Yates!
And it hasn’t stopped. These first few days in Sheffield – he can’t stop. At times it feels like he’s running the partnership in the commentary box. This is has been greatly needed by The Beeb. The old guard can be stale and very predictable with their words of wisdom. To have someone like Hendry offering fresh insights into the modern game, (by his own free will!) can only help the coverage of snooker in TV land.
Meanwhile, another beast of old announced he was hanging up his chalk yesterday. As a child I loathed him. His clinical brilliance was unappreciated by me, as I was blinded through my love of Alex, and then Jimmy. But as the years rolled on, and his invincibility cracked, I realised how clouded my judgement had been. His humour and all round decency must be applauded. Thankfully, he should remain on our screens like a comfort blanket for years to come. Cheers Steve.
Keep an eye out for the next dose of ‘It’s There!’ by Free Ball throughout the 2016 World Championship.