I do enjoy a sport star with a bit of personality, a bit of that je ne sais quoi as the French might opine. Of course, they have to have the talent as well, or you’re just Joey Barton.It brings to mind the like of George Best, Freddie Flintoff, Ayrton Senna and Kevin Pietersen – the mavericks of the game. The kind that you’ll have arguments over in the pub.
In relation to his game however, arguably the largest character in sport is about to return after nearly a year out. Ronnie O’Sullivan is set to defend his world championship, and boy does his sport need him.
In May 2012, O’Sullivan achieved his fourth world crown, a number which hardly flatters his talent.
O’Sullivan was in the kind of mood where it never really looked in doubt, and he managed to do it all without really hitting top gear. So why take so long out?
Well there are more than enough reasons to cover the retirements of a handful of players, but here are the bare bones of O’Sullivan’s time off.
O’Sullivan’s lived a lot of his life with psychological and personal issues. Without going into unnecessary detail, he sought the help of Dr. Steve Peters, a well renowned sports psychologist, and as such seems to have sorted himself out a bit. He seems happier, but snooker may never be the most important thing in O’Sullivan’s life.
Secondly, his relationship with snooker has often been a rocky one. He’s walked out on a game which was barely over, threatened to quit numerous times, and openly laughed at Peter Ebdon’s slow style of match play. (O’Sullivan’s fastest 147 took 20 seconds longer than Ebdon’s 12 break).
Coupled with the increasingly congested tour schedule and O’Sullivan’s family commitments, it didn’t take a genius to work out that his commitments might not always side with the baize. But it does take a genius to make snooker so interesting.
O’Sullivan shifts through the gears like no other snooker player. I don’t know what it is, but I know I’ve seen barely anything like it in sport. The way he amasses breaks seems to defy the structure of snooker. He switches from right handed to left handed so nonchalantly, he may as well be choosing cereal.
The speed and ease at which O’Sullivan plays, aside from his ridiculous fastest ever maximum, is best explained through his record in Premier League Snooker, a tournament where a shot clock limits the amount of time per shot. O’Sullivan has won the crown nine times since 2000.
As a sport, snooker has attempted to push on without O’Sullivan, but quite frankly it’s tedious to see the like of Judd Trump asserted as a maverick. He’s young and has wacky hair. Yes he goes for long shots and is talented, but there’s no replacing our Ron.
O’Sullivan is an underachiever. His sheer talent dictates he should have far more than four world titles. The guy is decorated with trophies, but it will never be enough to communicate his ability and brilliance.
All we can ask for as fans is that he keep playing, and that we may get to witness genius for as long as possible.Tweet