Mark Selby got a taste of his own medicine during the 19th frame of the World Snooker Championship as Shaun Murphy had him in a world of trouble with a very sneaky shot.
Selby, renowned for his somewhat cynical tactical play and having regularly caused re-racks in seemingly endless safety exchanges during the tournament, saw the other side of it on Monday afternoon as Murphy tied him up in knots.
The 2005 world champion saw his opportunity to turn the tables on the Jester of Leicester after having been left frequently frustrated in similar situations on Sunday and slyly rolled the cue ball up behind the brown, leaving a horrible snooker.
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“Well, Mark Selby is being Mark Selby-ed here!” exclaimed a surprised Philip Studd, on commentary for Eurosport at the time.
“Tight behind the brown with the pink safe on the cushion.”
Ref calls stop to frame for re-rack as Selby and Murphy at stalemate
For once, Selby could not be criticised for his slow play as he understandably took over two-and-a-half minutes to settle on using an extended rest to help him negotiate the exceptionally tricky shot.
The three-time world champion eventually scuffed the cue ball away from the brown and it trickled towards the bottom cushion to lead to a foul.
The result was not pretty, as Studd declared:
It was not worth the wait. A horrible shot!
Dominic Dale, also on commentary for Eurosport at the time, added: “Yes, this is why I suggested the ‘hit and hope’, because he was so far away from the cue ball there.
“He doesn’t even really have an idea how close the tip is to the cue ball, and he can’t elevate the cue high enough to get over the brown properly, hence the miscue there.
“I’m not sure if the ‘hit and hope’ is in the Selby DNA,” noted Studd. “We know he wasn’t thrilled when Ronnie did it to him a couple of times during their epic semi-final last year here.”
- ‘Do you want to carry on?’ – Ref intervenes as Selby and Murphy get stuck
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Indeed, many have been urging Murphy to use the O’Sullivan-inspired ‘hit and hope’ strategy on numerous occasions while he has been being tortured by Selby in the final this year. On this rare occasion, it was Selby on the receiving end of a nasty snooker and he eventually went on to lose the frame after having fouled three times.
Ronnie O’Sullivan told Eurosport that it “ain’t right” that Selby was able to benefit from a controversial re-spot to eventually get out of the situation at the fourth time of asking using a different rest.
Should Selby have flagged this dodgy re-spot in his favour?
Using freeze-frames in the Eurosport studio, experts O’Sullivan and Neal Foulds made it clear that the re-spot was not correct and the normal rest should never have been a possibility to get out of the original situation.
In O’Sullivan’s mind, it clearly was not right that Selby was suddenly able to play the shot with the different rest – and he was shocked that Murphy did not get out of his chair to flag the incorrect re-spot.
“If the white was put back where it was originally, this shot is just not possible,” O’Sullivan told Eurosport. “Because you can’t hit enough of the white, and if you did, you would probably miscue and the white would go towards the yellow.
“So if this shot was playable in the first place, he would have done. But even still, even when the white has moved [from the re-spot] quite considerably, really, he still couldn’t hit enough of the white to come that side of the red.
“So that shot was just never possible. You try not to blame the players, but in that situation, if the player has got the spider out originally and then he is using the rest, surely they should be able to use the technology to see the balls are not right. Because if they were right, you [Selby] would still have the spider in your hands. So maybe they should have used the technology to get it right.
Personally, if I was playing and I was Shaun, I would have been out of my chair and I would have asked to see a freeze-frame to say that shot was not on in the first place. That’s what I would have done, but Shaun obviously did not choose to exercise that option.
“You have to blame Shaun in that situation. Selby is maybe just trying to gain a little advantage, and unless he is pulled up on it, maybe he is going to try and take that advantage.
“I know straight away, when you are cueing over with that spider, that’s the worst shot in snooker. The first two shots, he would probably do that [scuff it for a miss] 100 times out of 100. So if he is getting the rest out, why didn’t he do that in the first place? Now I’m thinking that the balls must be in the wrong position.
Let’s get it right, because that ain’t right. To me, the first decision would always be the rest over the spider [before the re-spot], no question about that.
‘I’ve never tried gamesmanship ever’ – Selby on Bingham accusations
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