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Steve Davis insists “Snooker doesn’t have to be fast to be entertaining”

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Steve Davis has defended the need for slow play (credit: Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Six-time World Champion Steve Davis insists he will no longer watch snooker if players are docked frames or fined for slow play.

World Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn announced in May that quarterly reports are to be published listing players’ average shot times, with those exceeding 30 seconds at risk of being warned or even fined.

World Snooker have since listed average shot times online but are yet to issue any official sanctions to those at the foot of the list.

Davis, who dominated the sport in the 1980s under the management of Hearn’s Matchroom stable, does not believe snooker needs to be played at a fast pace in order stand out in a competitive sports market.

“Sport changes and everybody is trying to make it exciting so there’s more pressure on every sport to try and be entertaining to the masses because you’re in competition with other sports,” Davis told Live Snooker.

“Back then [in the 80s], there wasn’t really that issue because snooker was always a slow burner and it’s a bit of a red herring to think that you have to make snooker faster to be more entertaining.

“Snooker doesn’t work that way, actually it works the opposite way to a lot of sports – it doesn’t have to be fast to be entertaining – sometimes the tactics alone can create the enjoyment and the fascination.


Davis salutes the Crucible crowd after announcing his retirement (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

“I don’t think it’s the same problem for snooker as it is with other sports like cricket because that needs to speed up.

“But they’ve got the software, the information is out there so perhaps if there are players who are very slow, they need to be geed up.

“I don’t think you’re going to see massive fines or anybody banned or docked frames and if that stage does happen then I won’t be watching snooker because I don’t think it would be the same game anymore.”

Five players are currently averaging in excess of 30 seconds per shot for the season, with Rod Lawler’s 33.43 the slowest average shot time of the field.

Chris Totten, Martin O’Donnell, Lukas Kleckers and Lee Walker are also above the 30 second mark, while a further seven players are averaging 29 seconds or more.

Davis, who retired from professional snooker in 2016, believes any sanctions should be at the discretion of the referee as opposed to the sport’s governing body.

“It can become a bit of a red herring as to what they’re trying to achieve,” he added.

“They’re trying to achieve rhythm in player’s play so it doesn’t look that boring on the television.

“The actual shot clock thing I don’t think will ever be part of snooker, it’s going to be an average over a few tournaments or the season.

“If somebody is continually slow, there is the information out there via the software to say that person averages say 35 seconds a shot.

“But ultimately I think the referees should be the ones that judge the speed of play because you can manipulate the times of shots by playing shots faster after the frame is won.

“More importantly, I think the referees need to be empowered to try and judge when somebody’s taking too long.

“What it’s going to do is judge who are the slowest players on the tour but that’s down to the referees to decide as well I think because there’s times when you have to be slow and there’s times when you can be quick.”