Phil Haigh ✍️
Jamie Jones is a player on the rise in snooker, but far from the finished package, the Welshman is working on every facet of his game – and life – to try and fulfil his immense potential.
The 34-year-old is back at the World Snooker Championship this year, a tournament he has enjoyed memorable wins in over his career.
He made his debut at the Crucible in 2012 and stormed to the quarter-finals, beating Shaun Murphy in the first round, before downing the Magician at the same stage again in 2018.
Jones was back in Sheffield last year to beat Stephen Maguire first up, before being ousted in the last 16.
These wins over big players on the sport’s grandest stage show what Jones can do, as do his three trips to ranking semi-finals, but he is yet to prove it on a consistent basis.
The Welsh Warrior’s highest world ranking is 29 and he goes into the World Championship at 37, but few would disagree that he can be much higher than where he finds himself right now.
Jones’ current ranking is partly down to a year spent off tour due to a ban – cleared of match-fixing, but banned for failing to report a corrupt approach.
He bounced back onto tour at the start of last season, full of energy for the game, enjoying success, but the results have not really improved this campaign and he admits that returning to the grind has been difficult.
‘It’s interesting really, I was talking to my friend about this the other day. I think this season has really been a sort of bring me back down to earth,’ he told Metro.co.uk.
‘I’ve struggled, I’ve got to be honest, I’ve played some games and thought, “My God, if I carry on like this I can’t see where the next win is going to come from.”
‘But I think snooker does that to you, it’s tough isn’t it? They’re all trying to make it difficult for you as well, they’re not rolling over for me, so it’s just about believing in yourself and taking that belief into every event.
‘I tend to go missing for one reason or another and it’s not because I’m not practicing or applying myself, it’s just not happening. I’m thinking about working with a coach next season so maybe that will bring something new to me.’
Jones is certainly open minded on how to improve his game, not only planning to work with a snooker coach, but already employing the services of someone to help him with his emotions.
‘I’ve been working with a lady called Wendy Roberts,’ he explained. ‘She’s not a snooker coach, doesn’t know nothing about the game, but she’s helped me with a lot of feelings and emotions that I’ve had away from the game.
‘I feel excellent in myself but that doesn’t make you win snooker matches. It’s tough on tour and I’ve really noticed that this season. Hopefully I’ve rescued it a bit at the end by qualifying [for the Crucible] and the season’s not looking as bad as it’s seemed.’
A notoriously mind-frazzling game, snooker can leave the best in the world frustrated beyond belief and Jones has felt that with his performances this season, which have seen him make just one quarter-final.
He is pushing to produce his best form, trying to remain patient, because he is firm in the belief that when it does come it will be spectacular.
‘I can take winning and losing, no one wins every event, but it’s hard when you’re not performing and I’m playing 10 per cent of my practice game,’ he said. ‘It’s hard then to drive down the motorway and think, “When’s it going to change?” It does change but you’ve just got to stick at it.
‘If I can produce my practice game then I can be a top player, there’s no doubt about it. I just don’t really do it enough.
‘Maybe I’m not as calm as I’d like to be out there. There’s a mixture of things you need to be out there. You need to be calm but you need to be alert. I’m trying to piece them together one by one and a lot of the time there’s a little bit missing here and there. But when it all comes together, I think I can be a top player.’
Having been to the last eight of the World Championship, Jones is relishing a return to the Crucible, where he plays some of his best stuff. Especially as he now believes he is a better player than the youngster that first stunned Sheffield.
‘I’m just wiser really, I just don’t make so many rash decisions,’ he said. ‘I’m quite an impulsive player out there and when I was younger I didn’t think things through enough.
‘I think the top players have got a knack of being able to win games through being wise. Ronnie and Higgins have proven, they’re going to play till they’re 70 by the looks of it, because they’re just so wise, they don’t make any bad decisions.’
The Welsh Warrior’s decision-making will be put to the test by reigning champion Mark Selby at the Crucible on opening day. He will need the pieces of his puzzle in place to beat the four-time world champion, but if he slots it all together then more Sheffield success could be on the cards.
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