IN BEATING John Higgins 6-5 in the quarter-finals of the Masters, world No2 Mark Selby took his record in final-frame deciders in matches at the prestigious tournament to an astonishing 11 out of 11, a 100 per cent record that extends back to his debut in 2008 when he lifted the trophy.
In a situation where the tension is often so unbearable that other players can barely hold a cue, Selby thrives and owes his success in the invitation top-16 only event in no small measure to an ability to cope with the nerves during a sudden-death, shootout situation that in theory should be a 50-50 toss-of-a-coin among top players.
So is Selby the man Roy Hodgson should be turning to in case England are faced with the dreaded penalties again at the World Cup in Brazil? In contrast to Selby, the Three Lions have lost six shootouts since 1990 and have proved singularly incapable of coming through an experience that is every bit as much a test of nerve as technique.
Football fan Selby said: “There would probably be a lot of people Roy Hodgson would talk to before me, but of course I would speak to players or anyone. England have had chances of winning big tournaments – most of all in 2004 and 2006 – and we went out in both on penalties.
“In a team sport other lads can build you up and tell you how good you are, I would still back Wayne Rooney to score even if he had missed the last five.
“It would be a privilege to do share anything I know or feel out there, and assist in any I could, for me it is about remembering matches where you played well.
“The stat about my final-frame deciders, which should be almost the toss of a coin, is amazing and a huge positive though you wonder how long it can last. I think back and draw on the memorable ones now when I am out there, like the 2010 final against Ronnie O’Sullivan.
“Equally, if you had lost a lot then that would be tough and in the back of your mind. Then you just have to believe even more.”