Anyone's in Sheffield ...

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.


Malcolm Willstrop


Ricketts & Nicol in 2003

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