Shaun Murphy
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Shaun Murphy criticises Stephen Hendry – ‘I think it’s really poor’

Shaun Murphy believes some snooker pundits and commentators like Stephen Hendry should do more research for their roles on television.

The Magician was talking on the subject after Hendry was criticised on Tuesday for his comments at the Champion of Champions.

When asked his opinion on women’s world champion Baipat Siripaporn, Hendry admitted that he’d never seen the young Thai star play.

It prompted an exasperated response from ITV presenter Jill Douglas.

On the latest episode of his podcast, Shaun Murphy criticised the seven-time world champion and others even further.

“We’re singling out Stephen Hendry this time because he said it,” Shaun Murphy told Phil Seymour on the OneFourSeven Snooker Podcast.

“He’s not the only person who’s said it. (But) I think it’s poor, don’t you? I think it’s really poor.”

“When you’re in that position, and you’re stood in a studio, or you’re in commentary, you have to make it your business to find out a little bit about the people you’re going to be covering.

“I thought it was poor, but there’s a few of them. He’s not on his own, and they seem to wear it like a badge of honour.

“I don’t really get it. But Stephen’s old, he’s grumpy – he just probably can’t be bothered.

“He wouldn’t know how works, he wouldn’t know his way around CueTracker. He’s never analysed any play from any player that he’s covering.

“He basically got that job because he won seven world titles, and that’s it.”

Murphy also gave his reaction to the news that reigning champion Ronnie O’Sullivan had pulled out of this week’s invitational.

The Rocket announced on social media on the eve of his scheduled defence in Bolton that he felt too “drained and stressed” to perform, apologising to his fans.

“You have to take it at face value, don’t you? You have to take it as for what it is,” Murphy, the 2017 Champion of Champions, said.

“He says that he’s suffering and needs a rest, and his mental health is suffering.”

“I think you just have to hope he goes away, gets the rest he needs, and comes back stronger.

“I think it’s great that in recent times, people have felt more confident about discussing their mental health.

“It used to be a bit of a taboo subject. I grew up in an era where it just wouldn’t have been tolerated to talk about.

“You would have been told to just get on with it – stiff upper lip and all that. That’s how I was brought up.

“But it is good to see that people feel free and able to talk about it.

“I think it’s a real shame for the tournament, and I think it has to be said that he’s had a number of health concerns in recent weeks and months.

“So I hope he goes away and gets things sorted. He pulled out of an event citing tennis elbow, and he pulled out of another event for something else.

“This one has been for mental health concerns, so he’s going through it, isn’t he?”

Meanwhile, a new feature of the Champion of Champions is the snooker jerseys that the players have been wearing and which are on sale to the public.

Overall reaction has been mixed so far, but there has been plenty of talk surrounding suitable attire of late.

Luca Brecel has been highly critical of the traditional look, especially the bow tie which he believes costs him 20 per cent of his games.

But the older style is one of the reasons that the sport initially gained popularity in China, which of course has become an enormous market for the game overall.

“I know when I’ve raised this point with the powers that be in years gone by, that was always the answer I was given,” Murphy said.

“The old-fashioned, traditional, gentleman’s attire and that whole look was essential to snooker’s success in China.”

“And I’d not thought about that at all. I wouldn’t have put those pieces together had someone not have told me.

“I always remember finding how strange how much power that the Chinese market has over our game globally.

“Why don’t they just have their events dress like that then? I don’t know.

“I am quite a traditionalist at heart, and I like the look of the attire that we wear. But from a practicality point of view, it’s not great.

“I think we are probably the only sport where the outfits and the clothing actually hinder you. They make your job more difficult.”

Brecel didn’t manage to take advantage of the more relaxed clothing on day two of the Champion of Champions.

The world champion was thrashed 4-0 by the in-form Barry Hawkins, who compiled a brace of century breaks and later beat Robert Milkins as well to reach the semi-finals.

On Wednesday, 2016 champion John Higgins enters the fray against Snooker Shoot Out champion Chris Wakelin.

The winner will play either Zhang Anda or Ding Junhui, the latter receiving a late call up to replace O’Sullivan.

Murphy’s group, which also includes Judd Trump, Baipat Siripaporn, and his first opponent Gary Wilson, takes place on Thursday.

2023 Champion of Champions

Monday (Group 4)
Last 16 (bo7)
Mark Allen 4-1 Jimmy White
Mark Selby 3-4 Ali Carter

Quarter-Final (bo11)
Mark Allen 6-2 Ali Carter

Tuesday (Group 2)
Last 16 (bo7)
Luca Brecel 0-4 Barry Hawkins
Mark Williams 2-4 Robert Milkins

Quarter-Final (bo11)
Barry Hawkins 6-2 Robert Milkins

Wednesday (Group 1)
Last 16 (bo7)
John Higgins 4-0 Chris Wakelin
Ding Junhui 4-3 Zhang Anda

Quarter-Final (bo11)
John Higgins 6-1 Ding Junhui

Thursday (Group 3)
Last 16 (bo7)
Judd Trump 4-0 Baipat Siripaporn
Shaun Murphy 4-1 Gary Wilson

Quarter-Final (bo11)
Judd Trump 6-4 Shaun Murphy

Semi-Final (bo11)
Barry Hawkins 3-6 Judd Trump

Semi-Final (bo11)
John Higgins 2-6 Mark Allen

Final (bo19)

Judd Trump 3-10 Mark Allen

Featured photo credit: WST


  1. It’s a little unfair of Shaun Murphy to single out Stephen Hendry, for the simple reason that many pundits are worse. The BBC team have a job for life, yet don’t watch any snooker other than the 3 tournaments where they are employed. The first thing John Virgo said in commentary at the 2022 World Championship was “I don’t know much about Scott Donaldson”, which must have turned his executive producer’s hair grey.

    Nevertheless Shaun Murphy is correct: a pundit must take their job seriously when the viewers are paying their fee. It’s necessary to provide a bit of background of players who may be unfamiliar to viewers, particularly at a time when snooker desperately needs to assimilate younger players. It’s not just about calling the shots, and even the stats from Cuetracker don’t reflect a player’s stengths and technical aspects.

    However, as always Shaun Murphy outspoken statements do expose him to an extent: as a professional player he had done no research about his opponent Si Jiahui (their first match), and arrived with a complacent gameplan. Make no mistake, the reason why Shaun feels confident to talk about this now is because the player concerned is Baipat Siripaporn, a woman. There’s an element of political correctness here.

  2. I partly agree with Lewis and partly disagree with Lewis – where I agree with Lewis is over his comments over pundits not doing their research beforehand on players they will be commentating/punditing on and not just focussing on Stephen Hendry. It’s simply not on! Where I disagree with Lewis is over his remarks about Shaun Murphy. Here I think he’s wrong on 2 counts – from what I’m seen players prepare their own game for a match and not worry about their opponent. Secondly preparing for a match as a player and commenter/pundit is completely different. Finally the quip of political correctness is wrong and would be equally applicable to a man who is new on the snooker scene.

    • Yes I agree with you that preparation for playing is completely different from preparing as a commentator. But surely a ‘professional’ snooker player should do everything in their power to win a match? In 2021 everyone knew that Si Jiahui was an extremely dangerous potter and scorer, but if tied up in a tactical frame would inevitably take on a rash shot and present a chance. Shaun Murphy would have won that match if he had done his homework.

    • As for the PC point, yes the situation would be the same whoever the ‘unknown’ player was. But I think the reason why Shaun Murphy chose this occasion to highlight the lack of knowledge of some pundits is that he knew he would receive popular support.

  3. It’s nonsense that the BBC team don’t watch any other events outside the triple crown events. I’ve heard John Virgo talk about other tournaments on Talking Snooker. Ken Doherty and Stephen Hendry both work for ITV and Joe Perry is clearly well researched on many players.

    Hendry is wrong not to do the research but I’d rather he admitted he hadn’t seen her rather than lie. His general commentary is top notch however. He and Murphy are the most forthright pundits around. They’re not afraid to upset people and Hendry’s analysis on breakbuilding and the mentality of players is fascinating. Could be a frosty atmosphere when Murphy and Hendry work together during the BBC coverage of the UK Championship.

    Murphy would’ve said the same even if it wasn’t a male player.

  4. Was a male player!

  5. The jerseys are fine and for one event see no problem with something different. I would generally favour the traditional attire generally as it’s part of the sport’s identity.

  6. Murphy also has brought this topic up because of Hendry but did say he’s not the only one.

  7. The BBC commentators do watch or at least keep up to date with what is going on during the season and to suggest they are only aware of what happens in the BBC broadcasts shows naivety.
    John Virgo and Dennis Taylor are legendary personalities of the sport and their presence adds significantly to the BBC coverage. Hendry has earned his right to be on the panel and his insight is unique. Should he have done his homework better, maybe. Compared to Hendry Murphy has done very little in the sport so maybe he should choose his words better.

  8. What some people fail to get with the BBC coverage is they have to find a balance between placating the hard-core audience with the casual viewers who only turn into primarily the triple crown events.

  9. Is only me that finds Sean Murphy’s comment “He only got the job because of his 7 world titles” absolutely hilarious?

  10. I’ve observed before that Murphy is usually a more forthright and blunt public speaker than average for any professional sportsman or sportswoman, most of whom usually speak in meaningless platitudes of sports psychology, or coach lingo, or PR talking points. He’s given allsorts of targets the treatment recently: his comments about O’Sullivan positively drip with a subtext of critique for O’Sullivan’s current behaviour regarding tournaments. His comments about Hendry are more overtly critical but both seem to come from a place of really caring about snooker ‘in the round’ and wanting to be a positive outspoken person. To me it did come across as a bit overstated in this instance but I think that his heart is in a genuine place with his comments.

  11. Murphy has always been one of snooker’s great talkers. He’s forthright but articulate enough to back up the headline grabbing quotes. He’s been a wonderful ambassador for the sport.

  12. Dave Hendon has defended Hendry on the latest episode of the Snooker Scene Podcast.

  13. There’s no perfect formula for a commentary box. Sometimes a combination works, sometimes it doesn’t. But it’s quite common in many sports to have a lead commentator who has all the stats and background preparation and 2nd commentator being a former pro who is simply there to analyse the sporting contest and add insight, using their depth of experience. I think a multiple world champion qualifies for the latter. Of course some people fall into both categories, but everyone doesn’t have to. And the way commentators rotate, sometimes you end up with two from category A or two from category B.

    I suppose I agree when Hendry is involved in pre-match segments on ITV. But it’s natural for the broadcaster to put the big names on screen.

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