Phil Haigh ✍️
Jimmy White clashed with referee Ben Williams during his second round defeat to Luca Brecel at the Northern Ireland Open, receiving a warning, but Ronnie O’Sullivan and Alan McManus were both sympathetic towards the Whirlwind.
White was beaten 4-0 by the Belgian and struggled to find any form at all on a frustrating afternoon for him in Belfast.
It was frustrations boiling over that saw him clash with Williams, after a seemingly innocuous incident in the fourth and final frame.
White was on a colour and Williams called out ‘blue ball’ before Jimmy corrected him by saying he had nominated the brown.
Realising his mistake, Williams declared brown and laughed at the error, clearly thinking that White would also see the funny side of it, but he didn’t.
The 60-year-old was not impressed, asking three times: ‘What’s funny about that?’ He then threw his hand in the air in frustration, which Williams took exception to.
Williams said: ‘Jimmy, I’m going to give you a warning, for sticking your finger up at me there. If you do anything further it will be the frame to your opponent.’
It was all very unnecessary, with the player showing frustration due to the match and the referee misjudging his reaction to his own mistake. In the majority of match situations, laughing it off would have been fine, but not this one. However, Jimmy undoubtedly overreacted.
Both O’Sullivan and McManus felt for White, though, and thought any problem could have been avoided by the referee simply correcting his mistake without laughing.
‘I can understand Jimmy,’ McManus said on Eurosport. ‘It’s a serious business at the easiest of times out there and Jimmy’s super serious about it. So he’s fully tuned in.
‘You can have moments of hilarity out there when the situation suits, but Jimmy’s got a brown that gets him in amongst the reds and Jimmy doesn’t want any of that.
‘I’ll be honest the referee should say: “Apologies Jimmy, brown ball.” On we go and it doesn’t become anything.’
O’Sullivan added: ‘I can see why Jimmy’s not seen the funny side. He’s having a hard time out there, not playing well.
‘Jimmy’s walked round so it might look like he’s playing the blue, but there’s no need to call a colour, it’s Jimmy White, the ball he’s going to hit is the ball he’s intending to hit.
‘Then the referee starts laughing, then Jimmy goes like that with his hand, but he’s doing nothing, it’s like, “What’s going on? I don’t need this.” It’s just uncalled for, really.’
Brecel, who played well to capitalise on White’s mistakes said: ‘I don’t know what happened. I just heard Jimmy say what’s funny about that, because the ref was laughing. I think the referee was just trying to be nice and laugh a bit, but Jimmy wasn’t laughing.’
White and Williams spoke again at the end of the match although it was unclear what was said.
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