MICHAEL WHITE and Jamie Jones grew up living a mile apart in Neath but have travelled over 10,000 miles to play each other in the Australian Goldfields Open quarter-finals.

These two good friends are a long way from the green, green baize of home.

The two talented Welshmen are the latest to emerge from a part of the world which has produced many top quality snooker players.

Through Ray Reardon, Doug Mountjoy and Terry Griffiths, and more latterly Mark Williams and Matthew Stevens, Wales has provided several winners of major titles with plenty of other Welshmen winning tournaments and contending for trophies.

White has already won a ranking event, last season’s Indian Open, as well as the Shootout and looks set for an extended residency in the top 16.

He won a seesaw battle with Ali Carter in Bendigo on Thursday to advance to the last eight, where he now plays his good mate and travelling partner.

Jones was superb in defeating Mark Selby 5-1, making a clearance of 68 in the third frame which was outstanding, in particular the difficult last black from its spot to a middle pocket with the cue ball on the top cushion.

This was a very disciplined performance and Jones looked like he believed he could win from the off, imposing himself in the manner Selby so often does.

Jones has seen White’s success and doubtless been inspired by it. He may well feel there is no reason he should not emulate it.

Michael White: eyeing a semi-final place

Michael White: eyeing a semi-final place

Jones, 27 to White’s 23 (he will be 24 on Sunday), was the first of the two to make a breakthrough in the professional ranks, reaching the World Championship quarter-finals on his Crucible debut in 2012.

The following season he struggled, in part perhaps because of his own increased expectations. Meanwhile, White himself reached the world quarter-finals and is now clearly a contender for more titles.

They are both professional but playing a friend is never easy. In any other scenario each would want the other to win, especially as this is now getting towards the business end of the tournament.

It’s a fascinating match and many would argue it should be on the TV table as opposed to John Higgins v Joe Perry, two top 16 players but playing a match without such an interesting dynamic.

There is another argument for playing at least three quarter-finals on the TV table, as happens at the Welsh Open, but this is veering into an area involving television schedules and logistics where the full facts are not known.


Photographs by Monique Limbos.