Mark Selby fears for the next generation of English snooker and says future ranking event winners are more likely to come from China and Europe, writes Will Jennings.
The Jester from Leicester breezed past 19-year-old Chinese talent Fan Zhengyi 4-0 in the first round of the English Open on Monday to open his Home Nations Series account in style.
Six-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, Selby’s long-term nemesis on the baize, hit the headlines during the World Championships after blasting snooker’s younger players for lacking ability.
Three-time king of the Crucible Selby echoed his sentiments and reckons a paucity of homegrown talent is a cause for concern.
Could the first two titles of the season be claimed by @markjesterselby?
The recently-crowned European Masters champion has won his opening match at the https://t.co/0mCRoqdsmX English Open, beating Fan Zhengyi.
The Jester is defending champion #HomeNations #EnglishOpen pic.twitter.com/HSgU1rM5DQ
— World Snooker Tour (@WeAreWST) October 12, 2020
“Over the last few years we’ve not had that many young, ups and coming UK-based players coming through," said the world No.4
“People would say that about Jack Lisowski but he’s not really young and up and coming anymore.
“The only people who are really coming through are from China, until this season, where we’ve now got the likes of Aaron Hill from Ireland which is fantastic.
“Hopefully in Europe there’s a few more who can come through but from what I’ve seen in terms of who can go on and win tournaments, it’s probably coming from China.
“I don’t know what it is - in China they just love the game out there.
“England used to be like that in the 80s but it’s weened off a little bit, hence why we go to China a lot more.
“Whatever reason that is I don’t know - there’s a lot more things probably to do in the UK than what there is in China.
“I feel as confident as I can possibly be - I didn’t play fantastically there but I felt as though if I got pushed, I could get through the match and do something.”