Phil Haigh ✍️
Sam Craigie has had enough of people questioning his dedication to snooker, hoping his qualification for the UK Championship this week will help prove the doubters wrong.
Craigie has beaten Joe O’Connor and Ian Burns to make it to York, looking good in the process, knocking in two centuries and two half-centuries to beat Burns on Thursday night.
He’s playing well and wanted to make sure his critics were aware as he feels attacked by commentators whenever he gets to play a big game on TV.
It is an issue the 28-year-old has spoken about before, admitting that he ‘has a history of enjoying himself a bit’, but now saying that is firmly in the past, with two children to look after.
He feels his dedication and hard work is being questioned but says the reality is very different.
After beating Burns he said: ‘I’d like to make an honourable mention to some of the commentators and pundits about my lack of dedication. Keep doubting.
‘It’s been going on for years, every match I play somebody has a little dig. I hope they enjoy doing it.
‘There’s not much to say when it comes to stuff like that. They’re on about talent, but I just don’t think it’s about that, I’ve worked hard since I was a young boy and that’s the reason I’m sitting here today.
‘It’s not about talent or anything else, I’ve worked just as hard as anybody else, if not harder.
‘Some people are a bit more vocal about off the table issues, I’ve had mine but nobody knows about them, I’ve had mine but I’m still here, I’m still standing and I’m still in the tournament.’
Craigie feels a reputation he garnered when he was a youngster has stuck, but wants pundits to change their tune.
‘It’s just off a few of the mishaps I’ve had in the past, but who hasn’t done things in the past?’ Sam questioned. ‘I think they’re either robots who are programmed to say certain things when I’m on tele, or they’re just reading off a script.
‘I work hard at my job, it sounds like some people aren’t working hard at theirs, just saying the same thing.’
Craigie was beaten by Mark Selby at the Northern Ireland Open earlier this season and the four-time world champion spoke about Sam in a similar manner, saying he lacked dedication when he sponsored him early in his career.
‘I sponsored him for a little while when he was trying to get on the tour, but he wasn’t really putting the work in,’ Selby said on Eurosport.
‘He didn’t really have much money. I was with Mukesh (former manager) at the time and we said we would pay for him to travel to events and we put him up in a hotel around the corner from the club.
‘He wasn’t turning up until four o’clock in the afternoon to practice. We said we are willing to help you, but don’t want to waste money either.
‘He has everything. He has a good technique and scores well. You watch him in some matches and he blows people away. It is frustrating when you see players like that not fulfilling their talent.’
Craigie is not denying that this happened, but did not feel it was necessary to bring it up years later after he has changed his ways.
‘It happened, but it was a long time ago,’ he said. ‘There’s no need to dig us out like that live on TV, it was bizarre, I don’t know what he was trying to achieve.
‘For someone who has publicly came out about struggles off the table, but he’s happy to shoot somebody else down.’
‘My side of the story is I was young and stupid. I didn’t know it was him, I got a phone call off Mukesh, out the blue, I wasn’t playing snooker, he asked if I wanted to go to Leicester and he’d help me out.
‘I played Selby while I was there in the club, but I had no idea Selby had anything to do with it. I don’t even know when it was, it was that long ago.
‘I am [a family man now], some people need to change the script, it’s boring.
‘I’m playing well. Must have been all this lack of dedication, it’s the only answer.
‘People go through things off the table that people don’t know about. People like Selby has been through that stuff, but he’s happy to put someone down, when he knows what it can be like. I’m in a better place now.’
Craigie takes on defending champion Zhao Xintong in the last 32 in York on Saturday afternoon.
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