The Best Player in the World




Many people have recently begun to say that Ronnie O’Sullivan is the best player ever to pick up a cue. This is particularly so since he won the World Snooker Championships in 2001 beating John Higgins 18 frames to 14 in the final.

On a personal basis I actually enjoy watching Mr O’Sullivan play more than any other player when he is at his best, but have noted the vast difference between his best and his worst performances in televised matches. Ronnie has a tendency to lose to players ranked well below him.

To illustrate this point further and perhaps to make an attempt to explain it, its worth noting that Ronnie has just played the semi-final of the Stan James British Open and delivered a performance that many amateurs would have been disappointed with. Graeme Dott also delivered a sub standard performance but managed to scramble over the line a 6 frames to 4 winner, Graeme also seemed personally let down by his own standard in the match but at least he won the match. Graeme Dott is a very good player but has not won a major tournament, but has contested three major finals to my knowledge.

Ronnie reminds me so much of Jimmy White in his younger days when he would go out on the town apparently taking his next match for granted even if only slightly, in my opinion this is not ideal preparation for a ranking tournament semi-final. I have heard a rumour that Ronnie was seen out on the night before the Graeme Dott match well into the early hours, if this is true and I must say I did not see this myself, it is no great surprise that the match went against Ronnie.

Why does any of this matter? If Ronnie wishes to be regarded as one of the greatest players ever, he must put more effort into approaching matches in a way that will give him the best chance of consistently producing the goods. The urge to go out with the gang must be very tempting during a tournament, as the gang in question, are all together. I don’t mean to preach, but the goal of becoming, the world number one is well within Ronnie’s capabilities and also the opportunity exists for him to be the first player to retain the World Championship at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.

Neither, Davis, Hendry, or John Higgins have managed to retain the World Championship at the Crucible Theatre. The reason I pick out these three names is that they are arguably most people’s choices as “great players of the current era”. If Ronnie continues to approach the professional game as a chore, he will never achieve the results or consistency that he seeks. However, if he takes pride and joy from his talent and applies himself with a positive attitude, I believe that there is next to nothing that he can’t achieve in the game. As John Virgo is fond of saying, success comes before work only in the dictionary.

Self discipline is a skill that some people are born with a greater or lesser degree of just like any other skill. If a person sees the end product of their application as worthwhile then this discipline becomes worthwhile. Ronnie I suspect feels that he has arrived and has little to prove, I for one don’t quite agree.

Why is it that John Parrott, Ken Doherty, Joe Johnson, Mark Williams, Terry Griffiths, Alex Higgins, and Dennis Taylor are not held in the same esteem as Ray Reardon, Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry? It must have something to do with consistency which is demonstrated by the number of titles they all held at their peak.

Ronnie will be judged only at the end of his career and I feel sure, not by me. However wouldn’t it be really god to have the most exciting to watch player as both World Champion and world number one for a season or two?

In conclusion it is interesting to ponder the following question who do you think will win their second World Snooker title amongst the following players first?

John Higgins, Ken Doherty, Mark Williams or Ronnie O’Sullivan?

I will eagerly await these players progress, one final thought, will Mathew Stevens, Paul Hunter or Stephen Lee win their first World title before the any of the above mentioned players win their second?

Confidence plays a major part in top class sport or for that matter in sport at any level, whatever happens, I am confident that I will enjoy watching the drama unfold and hope that you will too.

David Smith
Cues n Views