Things look a lot brighter for Crucible-bound Jamie Jones

Mark Staniforth, PA
·2-min read

Jamie Jones capped an impressive return from a one-year suspension by booking his place at the Crucible with a 10-5 win over China’s Li Hang at the final round of the World Championship qualifiers in Sheffield.

The 33-year-old Jones admitted he was facing up to the end of his career when he fell off the tour at the end of the 2019 season following a ban for failing to report a corrupt approach, although he was cleared of match-fixing.

Jones, who reached the quarter-finals on his Crucible debut in 2012 and made two subsequent appearances prior to his ban, battled to regain his tour card via Q School last year and believes his game has benefited from the experience.

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Jones said: “I had resigned myself to never playing again, but when Q School was getting closer I thought, I’m no good at anything else, so I might as well give it a go.

“I thought I would take a year or two, but I got to the semi-finals of the Scottish Open, and did OK at the UK Championship, and now I’ve got to the Crucible. At the start of the year I would have taken earning a few quid and getting back on my feet.

“Starting at the bottom again, the road back just seemed so long, but I just took one step at a time. My attitude is a lot more laid-back, and I’m playing with freedom, which is something I’ve been trying to do for 15 years. I feel like I can still be a match for anyone out there.”

Last year’s surprise quarter-finalist Kurt Maflin also booked an immediate return to the Crucible as he swept to a 10-4 victory over Robert Milkins, and Matthew Selt sealed a third career appearance with a 10-3 win over Scott Donaldson.

Veteran Mark Davis recovered from a 7-2 deficit to beat Jamie Clarke 10-8 and reach the Crucible for the 12th time in his career.

The qualifying competition’s top seed, Zhou Yuelong, crashed 10-7 to Liam Highfield, but three Chinese players – Lyu Haotian, Liang Wenbo and Tian Pengfei – all made it through.