Ronnie O’Sullivan hasn’t given up snooker but he hasn’t offered any kind of time frame as to when he might make a return.
Previously, I covered his absence from the sport in a bit of depth so I won’t do it again and we’ll keep this fairly brief.
He hasn’t played since his quarter-final defeat to eventual champion Stuart Bingham at the World Championship and won’t be defending his title at the UK Championship.
Instead, he’ll be working as a pundit for Eurosport and he’s written a blog piece for them about his future plans. Sort of anyway – you can read the full thing here.
He says he’s “coming to the end” of his career but crucially, doesn’t say that chapter is now closed.
Another big point is this:
“I don’t want the pressure of being the top man in snooker any more. I feel that should be left to the new generation of players.”
I’m not sure he will ever not be the ‘top man’ as long as he is still playing, such is his draw and appeal to even the most casual of snooker fans. I do like the sentiment though and perhaps it is time for the likes of Judd Trump, Mark Allen, Ding Junhui, Bingham etc to step up – and the opportunity is certainly there with or without ‘The Rocket’, who admits he has a bit of ring rust to shake off after his lengthy absence from the professional game.
“I know my game is way off where it should be in certain aspects. That’s natural as I’ve not played competitively for over seven months, but I can still pot a few.
“My safety game would need sharpening up, but that would come from a few competitive matches.
“My long game could also be better, but in the balls I still feel good, and that’s what keeps me going. I can make breaks and create opportunities. That’s what I love.”
I’d be amazed if he doesn’t have at least one more crack at the Crucible, it would be a shame if he just let his career fizzle out with hints of a return that never materialise. Whether he would go into it saying it will be his last tournament I’m not so sure, that’s just putting extra pressure on yourself and in a game like snooker where mental strength can be key that’s just foolish.
Will he return this year? That’s anyone’s guess. There are enough tournaments for him to find his form between now and next spring, obviously, but he could leave it until 2017 and try and get most of a season in beforehand. The Eurosport article isn’t particularly revealing as interesting as it is – but it does offer a glimmer of hope that he isn’t quite done just yet.