Mark Williams furious at ‘farcical’ attempts to ban his controversial break-off

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Mark Williams blasted a bid to ban his controversial break-off technique after cruising into the second round of the World Snooker Championship with a 10-4 victory over qualifier Sam Craigie.

The three-time former champion adopted the shot, with which he nudges the cue-ball into the back of the reds off the bottom cushion, at the Masters in January after growing frustrated at leaving frame-winning opportunities for opponent Shaun Murphy.

Williams revealed an email had been sent to some of the sport’s leading names by the WPBSA Players’ Association, part of the sport’s world governing body the WPBSA, canvassing opinion on whether the controversial tactic should be prohibited.

Betfred World Snooker Championships 2021 – Day Five – The Crucible
Mark Williams started using his controversial break-off technique in January (George Wood/PA)

Williams said: “There’s a lot more going on in the world to worry about my poxy break-off. Haven’t they got anything better to do than send emails out asking players if they like it and should it get banned?

“I’ll think of another break-off. Why don’t I just smash it into the pack and leave all the reds on for everyone – would they be happy with that?

“If they ban the break-off they’ve got to ban rolling up behind baulk colours and rolling up behind the black. It’s not an illegal shot and I don’t see the problem with it, it’s farcical.”

The WPBSA confirmed the existence of the email but indicated it was yet to reach the stage of being considered by the organisation’s Rules Committee.

An on-form Williams reeled off five consecutive frames upon the evening’s resumption to turn a 5-4 advantage at the end of the morning session into a 10-4 rout, and book a second round meeting with his old rival John Higgins.

Judd Trump confirmed his status as world number one for the start of next season after sweeping into round two with a 10-4 triumph over Liam Highfield.

Resuming with a 7-2 advantage, Trump did not have it all his own way as Highfield rustled up his first career Crucible century with a 138 in the 13th frame, but it only prolonged the inevitable and a 52 from Trump finally wrapped up victory.

Betfred World Snooker Championships 2021 – Day Five – The Crucible
Judd Trump completed a routine win over Liam Highfield (George Wood/PA)

Trump said: “This year I’m trying to play with a lot of freedom and enjoy myself when I first broke through.

“There is absolutely no pressure this year. I am just going to have a good practice and if I win I win, if I don’t I don’t.”

The 31-year-old praised the transformation under outgoing World Snooker Tour chairman Barry Hearn and said the onus is now on players to continue Hearn’s work and help lift their sport to a whole new level of popularity.

Betfred World Snooker Championships 2021 – Day Four – The Crucible
Judd Trump praised the influence of outgoing WST chairman Barry Hearn (George Wood/PA)

Trump added: “Barry got us back on the straight and narrow and he’s kind of told everyone to spread their wings and fly away now. It’s up to us to do the job of making snooker bigger – there’s only so much he can do off the table and the players need to take that responsibility.

“I came in when there was six tournaments for the first three or four years. There were barely any tournaments to play and I hardly felt like a professional at all. Having to go through those three or four years made me appreciate it when all those tournaments did come along.”

Breaks of 76, 126 and 82 saw Barry Hawkins reel off the three frames required to see off Matt Selt 10-3, while former champion Murphy will resume on Thursday trailing veteran Mark Davis 5-4.

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