Barry Hearn blasts young snooker stars for being 'soft' and lacking the desire and fight of sport's veterans

Telegraph Sport
The Telegraph
John Higgins on his way to beating young pretender Judd Trump - PA
John Higgins on his way to beating young pretender Judd Trump - PA

World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn believes alarm bells should be ringing for Crucible nearly men after veterans Mark Williams and John Higgins left the younger generation standing.

Judd Trump and Ding Junhui have won many other events and earned millions of pounds from snooker, but neither has managed to land a coveted world title.

And after 28-year-old Trump and 31-year-old Ding again fell short, Hearn has questioned the desire of those who have gone close without getting their hands on the World Championship trophy.

"If I was a player who hadn't won the world title I'd be spending a long time looking in the mirror and saying, 'Why?'," Hearn said.

"In every other sport it goes younger, and yet we've got a 42-year-old and a 43-year-old in the final in what is the toughest field we've probably assembled.

"They've come through a field of excellence and they've answered all the questions they've needed to answer. So if I was a young player now, or a Ding Junhui, I'd be looking in the mirror and asking myself some very pertinent questions about what I'm doing wrong.

<span>Ding Junhui was beaten by&nbsp;Barry Hawkins</span> <span>Credit: PA </span>
Ding Junhui was beaten by Barry Hawkins Credit: PA

"Is it lifestyle? Am I too soft? Has the money in the game, which has gone up phenomenally, spoilt me - has it taken the edge off my game? Have I settled for being good but not great?

"Those questions are only answered by proper men quietly in the surrounds of their own house or perhaps with their loved ones. Someone needs to say, 'You're doing something not quite right'.

"I don't know what it is - is it that one loose shot that Judd Trump plays every now and again that comes back to haunt him. Has Ding with his massive sponsorship deals in China become a bit soft?

"When Mark Williams says he was teetering on the brink in his semi-final, he was still hard enough to pot the balls. So I think it's a question of character more than ability, it's a question of lifestyle more than potting, and they've got to say, 'These guys aren't going to change, maybe I'm the one that needs to change'."

<span>Mark Williams is 43</span> <span>Credit: PA </span>
Mark Williams is 43 Credit: PA

Williams and Higgins came onto the tour alongside Ronnie O'Sullivan in 1992 and all have won multiple world titles.

"They had a desire to be the best and they were prepared to pay a price to achieve that desire," said veteran sports promoter Hearn, who turns 70 next month and has earned his fortune behind a relentless work ethic.

"They learnt from Stephen Hendry and Steve Davis. Who's going to be the one that rises to that challenge in the same way that these boys did through the 'class of 92'?

"The kids today are soft, and they're getting softer because life is sweeter, opportunities are greater and prize money for failure is better. People are settling for second best."

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