IT WAS A GOOD day for Wales in Sheffield on Wednesday but their newest star of the green baize won’t be at the Crucible this year.
While Ryan Day, Matthew Stevens and Jamie Jones all qualified at Ponds Forge for the final stages of the Betfred World Championship, joining the seeded Mark Williams, Michael White has missed out. He was beaten in the second round by Craig Steadman after being plunged into the qualifying maelstrom despite finishing 16th in the rankings after the China Open.
World Snooker humanely decided to freeze Ali Carter’s seeding position at 13th for the rest of the campaign when he came back from treatment for lung cancer after missing several tournaments at the start of the season.
Although many players supported the move, someone was going to be unlucky by finishing 16th and thus not securing a Crucible seeding and having to survive three qualifying rounds. What made it even worse for White was that he played so well to join the top 16 for the first time, winning his maiden ranking title at the Indian Open in Mumbai last month.
And his good friend Jamie Jones, who beat Adam Duffy 10-8 in the final qualifying round, admitted he felt for his compatriot.
“I feel a bit sorry for Michael, he’s had a great season,” Jones said. “He came up here to qualify but in the back of his mind I think he’s rueing the fact he knew he should have been there really.
“Everyone agreed on the decision that was made but it’s because he’s my mate and he’s had such a good year, I just feel sorry for him. It’s just one of those things. It can’t be helped.
“We’ve practised together since I was 12 and he was nine. Over the last couple of years it feels like there’s no reason why one of us can’t win the World Championship, but you have to do it under the pressure. Michael’s done that, winning the Shootout and then India.
“That was no surprise to me and maybe I’ve taken a little bit of encouragement from that and pushed on a little bit now.”
Jones reached the quarter-finals of the World Championship on his Crucible debut in 2012 but this is the first time he has qualified since.
Photographs by Monique Limbos.