Stuart Bingham hopes his struggles with the Crucible’s sanitised balls have come to an end, writes Will Jennings.
The Basildon potter beat Ashley Carty 10-7 in the opening round of the World Championship but blasted the tournament organisers for over-sanitising the balls, a new regulation in place owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Matters came to a head when the world No.14 thought he’d potted a deft black, only for the ball to seemingly retreat from the pocket to leave the 2015 champion flabbergasted.
Bingham admits things improved slightly and ahead of his last 16 duel with Mark Williams, wants to put those memories of spinning balls and unpredictable baize behaviour behind him.
“I think it might have been the first day, first match on that table, it might have been over sanitised,” the 44-year-old said.
“Definitely the white was spinning a lot more and reacting - there was a shot I played into the green pocket and I tried to screw back for the baulk colours and I screwed past the blue!
“I don’t think I’ve ever done that, even when I’ve been polishing the balls myself.
“There was another part I was on a red next to the black, I tried to stun it and I screwed into the black - it was just playing really weirdly.
“But funnily enough the second day it played a bit more normally, so it might have just been the first day and first match situation.”
The issue can’t have fazed Bingham too badly as he made breaks of 109, 96 and 90 to progress to the second round, where he will meet three-time world champion Williams on Wednesday night.
Williams was crowned king of the Crucible in 2018 and beat the evergreen Alan McManus in his first round clash, having admitted to discovering a newfound passion for snooker in lockdown.
The world No.3 vowed to ‘never retire’ after that match but Bingham hopes to inflict Williams with a premature exit from Sheffield as the Basildon star bids to emulate his 2015 heroics.
“It’s going to be a good, good match - it will be a bit more of a game that I’m used to, having played Ashley which was a bit of an old school game, so I’m really looking forward to the competition,” he added.
“I think he’s got the hunger back - he’s obviously practicing a little bit harder with his success, and he’s definitely back as one of the all-time greats and is a match for anyone in the game.”
Live snooker returns to Eurosport and the Eurosport app. Watch the World Championship from 31st July -16th August with analysis from Jimmy White.