Comment & Analysis @RazMirza
Stuart Bingham concerned modern fans have lost touch with snooker history
Stuart Bingham is reigning Masters champion and 2015 World Snooker champion
Last Updated: 25/03/20 12:06pm
Former World Snooker champion Stuart Bingham speaks exclusively to Sky Sports' Raz Mirza about his love of the game, the unique feeling of playing at the iconic Crucible Theatre in Sheffield and why Ronnie O'Sullivan is simply the best.
Sport's global shutdown threatened to scupper the Worlds for the first time in the 43-year Crucible era.
It had been due to run from April 18 to May 4 until Barry Hearn's World Snooker Tour stepped in to postpone the tournament until July or August due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But when the time comes Bingham will be among the leading candidates to make it through to the final stages of a gruelling 17-day tournament.
And despite all his success in the game, the Basildon potter is concerned that the modern game is erasing its own history.
Remember the glorious 80s? The black ball final of 1985? We were all snooker loopy! The sport was at the peak of its powers with 18.5 million people glued to that final on TV between Steve Davis and Dennis Taylor.
"The atmosphere of the Crucible and being there as a kid watching and then actually going out there and playing, I just don't think you can beat it," Bingham said. "The Crucible has got its own special place.
"With our game a lot of people sort of forget about the history of it. You look at other sports and it's very much about the history of their game, but snooker has lost that a little bit. You talk to people and they don't know who Steve Davis is. All they know is Ronnie (O'Sullivan) or Judd (Trump) or what they watch now, they don't know the history of the game.
"It's pretty sad, but obviously being amongst it for 30-odd years and watching it for 35/40-odd years, yeah it's pretty sad. There is loads of history and Sheffield is a part of that."
The 43-year-old recently claimed his second Triple Crown event title to go alongside his 2015 World Championship win when he beat Ali Carter 10-8 in a thrilling Masters final at Alexandra Palace.
"I think age has to be just a number," he said. "I was a late starter to snooker at 14 and I think there is loads of talent coming through but the older generation is still hard to beat.
"I remember the draw opened up for me a little bit with a lot of seeds getting beat but I obviously played well at the right time and I managed to get my hands on another major trophy."
Emotions still run high for Bingham when he talks about his epic 18-15 triumph over Shaun Murphy at the Crucible five years ago.
"Looking back at that year I won three or four tournaments coming up to the Worlds as well as reaching a couple of semi-finals," Bingham said. "My game was sharp as anything and luckily for me, it clicked at the right time.
"I only made one quarter-final in my career before that tournament but I got through to the one table set up and I looked at the draw there was Judd, Shaun and Barry Hawkins, it was people I had grown up with. I was thinking 'I've got every shout here' and luckily for me, it happened.
"The feeling was brilliant. Just unbelievable. At one stage in the final, I thought I was gone. At 15-12 to Murphy, I pegged it back to 15-15, but then I thought I was gone. I somehow managed to win the last three frames and I got my hands on that coveted trophy."
I think without a doubt Ronnie is the best player I've played against.
Stuart Bingham on Ronnie O'Sullivan
With Bingham having played against some of the sport's greatest superstars, including Stephen Hendry and Ronnie O'Sullivan, he believes 'The Rocket' is on another planet compared to everyone else.
"Ronnie has done it for the last three decades. Although he picks and chooses his tournaments he still turns up and he's still a match for anyone in the game. It shows you what level he's at and how good he actually is," said Bingham.
"I think without a doubt Ronnie is the best player I've played against. He's the only player in this era who has a sort of aura about him. Back in the day Davis had it and then Hendry had it, but now it's Ronnie.
"You can just play the balls, but you know Ronnie is sitting in that chair so you're afraid to miss, or give him an easy opportunity because you know he's going to clear up.
"Someone like Ronnie only needs one chance while some of the new generation needs three or four chances to win a frame."
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