Stephen Hendry has received a second invitational tour card, it was announced on Tuesday.
Fellow former world champion Ken Doherty will be another beneficiary, with the Irishman accepting the invite for a third time.
Both players will be able to compete on the professional circuit for the 2022/23 and 2023/24 seasons.
The awarding of invitational tour cards began around a decade ago but has remained somewhat controversial.
They don’t technically take away opportunities from other players striving to join the Main Tour.
However, there are many who still feel that these players are undeserving, and that their time at the top of the game should be over.
While Doherty has at least taken his previous invitational tour cards seriously and competed regularly, the same can’t be said for Hendry.
The Scot surprised many in 2020 when he announced his comeback from retirement, but there were several delays before he first appeared in a ranking event.
During the 2020/21 term he only participated in two tournaments – beating old rival Jimmy White in a high-profile World Championship qualifying encounter.
Hendry began this season with the intent of playing more frequently, but poor results seemed to dissuade him from following through on that promise.
The 53 year-old hasn’t hit a shot in anger since being thrashed 6-1 by Thepchaiya Un-Nooh in the first round of the UK Championship in November.
That said, there are understandable reasons why the World Snooker Tour considers the appeal of awarding the invitational tour cards.
The likes of Hendry, Doherty, and White – who is also currently playing under the system – all still bring considerable attention to the sport.
Article posts on SnookerHQ, for example, continue to generate a lot of interest and the trio remain fan favourites.
It’s additionally hard to say that they aren’t deserving in terms of their overall legacy and their achievements within the game’s history.
WST chairman Steve Dawson said: “We have decided to offer Ken Doherty and Stephen Hendry invitational tour cards for the next two seasons.”
“They are both great ambassadors for our sport and they have both done a huge amount to grow snooker around the world over many years.
“Both Ken and Stephen continue to generate interest from fans, television and media.
“We wish them all the best for the next two seasons. We will review this invitation at the end of the two-year period.”
It will be interesting to see if Hendry, in particular, takes his second offering more seriously than his first.
Featured photo credit: WST