Phil Haigh ✍️
As Stephen Hendry’s return to snooker continues to underwhelm, Joe Perry believes the seven-time world champion may have realised that competing on the modern tour is a lot harder than he hoped it would be.
Hendry is coming to the end of his two-year invitational tour card and has not entered the upcoming Gibraltar Open or World Championship qualifiers, so unless he is given another card for next season and beyond, the comeback is over.
It has seen him win three matches, but disappointingly he has entered very few events over the two years, playing in just two tournaments last season and six this campaign.
Perry reckons his time away from the table, which ran from his retirement at the 2012 World Championship until the 2021 Gibraltar Open, may have seen Hendry forget just how difficult the game is at the highest level.
The Scot is a famously tough taskmaster from the commentary box, and the Gentleman thinks the years behind the microphone could have given Hendry false confidence.
‘It’s hard to call it a comeback really, he’s made a couple of appearances. It’s a shame,’ Perry told the Talking Snooker podcast.
‘I don’t want to speak for him, but I wonder, sitting in that commentary box, and I’ve sat next to him and it’s an absolute joy because he’s a great commentator
‘We have to turn the microphones off sometimes because I get the giggles from some of the things he says.
‘But I think sitting in that commentary box, you can get a bit misled by how hard the game is. It looks so easy from in there.
‘That’s one thing I’ve tried not to do when I commentate – forget how hard snooker is. It is so hard. He’s watched a lot of snooker and maybe thought he could get back to winning ways.’
Perry is not doubting the 53-year-old legend’s ability, but more the hard work that it would take to get back up to speed after a long break and compete with much younger opponents.
To be competitive again, Hendry would have to put in six hours or more a day on the practice table, and the Welsh Open champion reckons it is understandable that the seven-time world champ has not got the hunger to do that anymore.
‘He’s such a great competitor, I wouldn’t like to think that the reason he’s not playing in everything is because he can’t cut it. I wouldn’t want that to be the reason,’ said Perry.
‘But I think maybe he’s realised to have any chance, he’s got to play maybe six, seven or eight hours a day and he doesn’t want to do that.
‘I totally get that. He’s at an age where, do you really want to be in a snooker club playing seven hours a day? Probably not. And to compete, that’s what he’s got to do.
‘I think maybe it hasn’t all worked out how he anticipated.’
Hendry’s intentions beyond this season are not clear, previously saying that he would expect to be given another tour card, but with tournament entries few and far between, does he now want one?
Invitational tour cards for the likes of Hendry, Jimmy White and Ken Doherty are not universally popular among current players, but Perry is happy to see the legends get their opportunities, unless it is blocking someone else playing.
‘I think he’ll get offered one [another tour card] and that’s okay,’ said Perry. ‘It’s okay for the likes of him and Jimmy because they’ve given so much to snooker, they’ve given everything.
‘The only time I would question it is if they’re getting a wildcard instead of someone else. If there’s one going spare then let them have it for as long as they want it, but not at the expense of someone else.’
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