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Shaun Murphy defends combining commentary with playing after Crucible exit

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Murphy was beaten by Stephen Maguire on Sunday (PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo)

Shaun Murphy has defended his decision to commentate on the same day as playing following his exit from the World Championship.

The 2005 Crucible king fell at the first hurdle of snooker’s blue-riband after going down 10-8 against Stephen Maguire on Sunday evening.

But as in recent years, Murphy will remain in Sheffield to continue his duties with the BBC as a commentator and pundit.

The Magician was in the commentary box for Anthony McGill’s showdown with Liam Highfield during the opening session of day two, before resuming his clash with Maguire later on.

Many took to social media to question the wisdom of the world number 10, suggesting his time would have been better spent preparing for his second session.

But Murphy insists he would not have had it any other way.

“My relationship with IMG and BBC is such that I’m here part of their team and I’m playing in the tournament as well,” he said.

“I think it enhances my experience of the tournament – not detracts from it.

“I think being a current player makes me a better commentator and better studio pundit. I can read the game like a current player can, and I think I bring something to the team that’s important.

“Had I not been commentating this morning, I would have been watching the snooker from my hotel room. The only difference is people get to hear what I’m thinking rather than just being sat in my hotel room.”

The 39-year-old, who turns 40 in August, was runner-up to Mark Selby at the Crucible 12 months ago, narrowly losing 18-15 in the final.

However, back and neck problems have prevented him from building on that momentum this season; a run to the Turkish Masters semi-finals representing his best performance.

The 2022-23 campaign will be the Magician’s 24th as a professional, and he admits he already has one eye on making the full-time transition into the commentary box – especially with injuries severely hampering his game.

“I think it’s a natural progression of things. I’ve reached that stage of my life and career where I start having an eye on what I’ll do when I walk away from competing or become less competitive,” Murphy explained.

“I’m in the last third of my career. I don’t know how long I’ve got left to be effective at the top end of the game; it won’t be very long if I continue playing the way I am at the moment.

“I’m going to be 40 in the summer; it feels like the right time to just start looking at what else life has to offer.

“My run to the final here aside, I’m having the worst 24 months of my snooker life, so it would be foolish to put all my eggs in the snooker basket. I think it’s just prudent to start thinking about life after playing.

“There are now certain positions on the table that I’m unable to take. If the object ball is outside of my peripheral vision, I can’t really see it properly now because I can’t get my head in the correct position to play the shots.

“If the cue ball and object ball are too far apart, you can see my long game has suffered.

“Now I’ve lost that movement in my neck with my injuries, I can’t physically get in the right place. That’s obviously going to have an impact on my career, and there isn’t a great deal I can do about it.”

On a brighter note, the Triple Crown winner did rack up his 100th century in the World Championship during his defeat by Maguire.

He became only the fifth player to achieve the feat in snooker’s biggest tournament, after Stephen Hendry, Ronnie O’Sullivan, John Higgins and Mark Selby.

“It’s a nice little group; I’ll take that. It’s probably one of the only things I have in common with those other four!” he joked.

“I’m very happy with 100 centuries in the World Championship; it’s a nice milestone and hopefully, I can add a few more.”