The Mamut English Open
Malcolm Willstrop looks ahead
to the Crucible
The Mamut English Open, staged by Eventis, kickstarts the season at
the famous Crucible 11th – 15th August. Prior to moving to the
Crucible the qualifying competition will be played at Hallamshire on
9th and 10th.
With World nos 1 and 2 Peter Nicol and Lee Beachill leading the draw
and the champion and erstwhile world no 1 John White lurking, the
tournament lacks nothing in quality.
It also heralds the return to competitive play of Anthony Ricketts
after knee surgery. He has made a big impact on the world scent in
recent times and won an exceptional quarter-final with Nicol last
year, so everyone will hope he negotiates this first hurdle
successfully. Whether he will be forward enough to do himself
justice at this early stage is open to question.
Sheffield’s Nick Matthew, new world no 8, who made massive headway
last year, will be looking to impress on home territory, but faces a
tough first round with Ong Beng Hee. For many years the two have had
close and hard matches and though their rankings have reversed, that
may not alter matters.
James Willstrop, who had much success in the second half of last
season, had a rather poor tournament in the English Open last year
and will be looking to make amends. Another young Englishman, Adrian
Grant, newly capped, is another who adds spice to the mix.
Last season proved that results at world level are by no means
predictable and bearing in mind that it is the first match play of
the season and players’ preparedness has to be taken on trust,
anything can happen.
That can only benefit the championship and
provide greater interest for the spectators.