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Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Premier League preview.

Well as the dust settles on a fabulous two weeks of London 2012 the sporting calendar returns to normal this week, with the start of the new Premiership season only a few days away and the return of the Premier League this Thursday night.

Of course the big story coming into this years tournament is the absence of defending and current world champion Ronnie O Sullivan.Since the introduction of the shot clock Ronnie has made this tournament his own only failing to win it once when for some reason best known to himself he decided to run a half marathon on the morning of the final!.

This does leave the tournament with a "Hamlet without the Prince" feel to it but with such a strong line up consisting of all last seasons ranking event winners once it gets going I'm sure the audiences will still be treated to an exhibition of top quality snooker.

The other new element to this years tournament will be a return to an actual league format following last years frankly confusing mini tournament system This year the ten players will be split into two groups of five with Group A: containing Ding Junhui, Shaun Murphy, Neil Robertson, Mark Selby and Stuart Bingham and a 
Group B: of Judd Trump,Mark Allen,Stephen Lee, John Higgins and Peter Ebdon. eventually boiling down to a semi final and final play off between the top two in each.

Of course the secret to Ronnie's success in this tournament has been how little he had to adapt his game for the shot clock which again this year will be 25 seconds..Looking at this years line up you can't imagine Trump or Allen having a problem but it will be intriguing to see how Ebdon adapts.I personally think it could actually help him as it did Selby in his first year when he reached the final.

Who do I tip for glory?The obvious ones are the quick players like Trump and Allen but I have a sneaky feeling for Ding who in the past has shown flashes of brilliance in this tournament.

The action begins Thursday night on Sky Sports and starts off a run of weeks where we will be treated to professional snooker action via tv or internet which will take us all the way to December. The season has well and truly started!! 

Follow me on twitter @thegreenbaize  for constant snooker updates,

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Ronnie signs contract.

Well after nearly four months of  will he/wont he drama Ronnie O Sullivan finally signed his World Snooker contract last night which make him eligible to return to competitive action and he will start his season in the International Championship in China which starts on October 28th.

It has been a tense couple of months with statement and counter statement coming from Ronnie's management company and World Snooker seemingly showing that each side were if anything getting more entrenched in their views.The one thing that was needed at that stage was for O Sullivan and Hearn to sit down together and trash things out. This is seemingly what happened on Monday and thankfully the issues were resolved.

Personally I am delighted by this news,Yes we can all rattle off the whole "snooker is bigger then one man argument" but the truth of the matter is for all the fine players we have there is noone currently in the game who can draw a crowd and inspire future snooker players like Ronnie.I described him on twitter as the "Bolt of the Baize" and he really has that rare quality that people so love in their sports people.,the ability to perform at the highest level when seemingly not trying at all.

A further point to make here is that although there can be little doubt that snooker will continue to grow in popularity in China and mainland Europe we have seen in recent years a serious decline in the amount snooker clubs in Britain and Ireland.This of coarse leads to a decline in numbers of young people playing the game and following the fabulous success of London 2012 we are in danger of losing a generation to other normally minority sports.If we are to have any chance at all of arresting the slide we need the likes of Ronnie playing at the top of his form.

Of course this is not guaranteed and it will be interesting to see if he can reproduce the form of the Crucible where he was perhaps the most focused he has ever been in his career. If he does he will be hard to beat in any tournament he plays in and maybe he will finally become the flag bearer that Barry Hearn so wanted him to be when he took over the sport three years ago.