Snooker: Graeme Dott hits out at slow play

Scotland's Alan McManus struggled against China's Ding Junhui and is 7'2 behind. Picture: PA
Scotland's Alan McManus struggled against China's Ding Junhui and is 7'2 behind. Picture: PA
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GRAEME Dott hit out at the slow play that he believes is killing the game of snooker despite the former world champion edging out Peter Ebdon in the first round at the Crucible.

The 35-year-old had to return for an extra third session before eventually emerging a 10-6 winner against Ebdon in a rematch of their 2006 World Championship final.

As the clock ticked round to midnight on Monday night, Dott was forced to play the waiting game as Ebdon deliberated over shots and took extended bathroom breaks to try to upset his opponent’s rhythm.

And, while Dott did admit that Ebdon was well within his rights to take his time, the world No 11 believes a shot clock is crucial to quickening up the pedestrian potters. “I think there should be a rule brought in for slow play. The standard these days is very high and there’s no need to be as slow as Peter was,” he said. “Is Peter cheating? No, because there isn’t a rule and there should be a rule brought in for slow play.

“I think he’s been playing for 25 years and he knows the shot he’s going to play and I know the shot and the crowd know the shot, and he’ll still take maybe over a minute.

“It’s hard to bring a rule in for slow play. Because he was taking so long I was actually trying to think of one when I was out there playing.

“The only thing I can think of is having a shot clock, because it’s killing the game. The problem is that referees back in the day would have said, ‘Listen you need to hurry on a bit here’.

“The referees nowadays don’t say anything. I’ve never seen anybody in this day and age get warned. Peter’s not the only one that does it. There are other players high up the rankings that I think take liberties.

“There isn’t a rule for toilet breaks so, again, Peter isn’t breaking any rules. But there should be a rule.”

Dott’s progress through to the last 16 was a boost for Scottish snooker fans who had already seen John Higgins fall at the first hurdle in a shock defeat to Mark Davis. Then last night world No 5 and last year’s semi-finalist Stephen Maguire was on the receiving end of an even bigger surprise as he lost a deciding frame to world No 70 Dechawat Poomjaeng of Thailand, who recorded a famous 10-9 victory. There was more bad news yesterday as Alan McManus fell into a 7-2 hole against Chinese sensation Ding Junhui. Twice a semi-finalist in the early 90s, McManus rolled back the years to make it through qualifying to the main draw in Sheffield this year. But he found world No 9 Ding too hot to handle yesterday morning, the 26-year-old firing in breaks of 131, 129 and 81 on his way to a five-frame lead.

Judd Trump staked his claim for the nattiest footwear in Sheffield when he wore studded Christian Louboutin slip-ons for his tussle with Dominic Dale, just as he did at the Masters in January, and some of his snooker was similarly eye-catching as the 2011 finalist opened up a 6-3 lead. Trump fired breaks of 88, 142 – the highest yet in the tournament – and 82, and should have been further ahead than he finished the session, wasting a clear chance at the end of the ninth frame. Dale got in front in the frame but Trump came back and looked to have an easy final three colours for a 7-2 lead.

But he missed a sitter of a blue and Dale mouthed “wow” before rising from his seat to cut his deficit by rolling in blue and pink. Hong Kong’s Marco Fu also began well, building a 6-3 lead against Welsh hope Matthew Stevens. Ding and Fu both abandoned the custom of walking out to music in a show of respect for the victims of the recent China earthquake that has left over 180 dead.

Ding also played his match wearing a black armband.

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