Stephen Hendry: the best ever, no doubt
Within seconds of the announcement that Stephen Hendry was to retire from snooker, the Twittersphere was ablaze with people cueing (get it?) up to praise the Scot as the greatest snooker player ever. But is this the case? MSN Sport examines the evidence.
One of the most important facets of the game, if you can't pot, you can't win snooker matches. Luckily, Hendry could and Hendry did. Alex Higgins may have been one of the first to take an 'if you see it, go for it' mentality to a game previously steeped in caution, but Hendry took it to the next level.
But it was often said that his main strength was also his main weakness. The mentality to go for his shots lost him many frames, but it won him an awful lot more. There have been more natural long potters over the years, most notably Mark Williams, Stephen Lee, Ronnie O'Sullivan and now Judd Trump. However, as one of the first to take the game to where it is today, Hendry can certainly be classed as one of the best potters of all time.
Verdict: Not the best, but right up there
Pretty much the name of the game. Safety play is vital. Get a good white and your opponent is in all sorts of trouble. With a steady cue action and a steely determination, Hendry could battle anyone in a safety battle, although often it seemed like he would rather not.
It nearly goes without saying that the best exponent of the safety game in the Crucible era was Steve Davis who could calmly roll the cue ball behind the baulk line till Judgement Day, but the likes of Peter Ebdon and John Higgins certainly run him close in terms of sheer bloody-mindedness on the green baize. Safety play for Hendry was like mental arithmetic for most people. He could do it, he just didn't like it much.
Verdict: Not the strongest part of his game, but you don't win seven world titles if you can't play safe
Hendry is as steely a Scot as you are likely to meet. His dedication to snooker over the past 27 years is phenomenal and there are few better competitors in the history of the game. Even if he was not playing well, you knew you were still in for a tough game.
Legendary competitors such as John Higgins and Steve Davis got steamrollered on occasion, but a right royal thrashing was pretty rare for Hendry (barring, sadly, his final match of course). As Judd Trump has shown, you can pot balls all day long from anywhere, but if you haven't got the highest level of matchplay you are not going win seven world titles.
Verdict: Alongside Davis and Higgins as the best matchplayer ever
In the mind, yes, in the cue, slightly less so. Stephen Hendry has a perfect mentality for modern snooker, namely an iron will to win, partnering a ruthlessness with eye for a pot. However, if you're talking about sheer ability with a cue in hand, there is only one man that can possibly be talked about. The one and only Mark King. No, I jest.
Ronnie O'Sullivan is almost invariably suffixed with 'the most naturally gifted player ever to hold a cue' and it is tough to disagree. Right hand, left hand, short pots, long pots, safety (occasionally), Ronnie can do it all seemingly effortlessly. If he had the mind of a Steve Davis or a Ray Reardon, Ronnie would have been unstoppable.
Judd Trump is one who also looks like taking over that mantle, but the Bristolian does have a way to go. Looking further back in time, Alex Higgins showed that raw desire to get down onto the baize and play, so when you consider these three, it's tough to rank Hendry in the same category
Verdict: In the mind, one of the very best but others ahead with cue in hand
Yep, this fella has one or two. Actually, it's more like 36, and that is just the ranking titles. Hendy's won more world titles than anybody else in the Crucible era, including five in a row, reached a further 21 finals and has earned more money than anyone else in the game.
In terms of rankings tournaments, he is six ahead of Steve Davis in second place. Honourable mentions also go to Ray Reardon for his six world titles, Ronnie O'Sullivan who should have won more than his three world championships and 23 ranking titles, and Joe Davis who won the world title an astonishing 15 consecutive times in the 20s, 30s and 40s. But in the modern era, you can't touch Hendry.
Verdict: The most successful modern player bar absolutely none
Near enough untouchable. He is strong in every important aspect of the game which makes up a good snooker player. True, Davis might have a better defence, Trump might be a better potter, O'Sullivan may be more naturally talented, but if you are looking for an all-round player, one who can knock in the centuries (he has more century breaks than anyone else and shares the 147 record with Ronnie), can hit the baulk cushion, can come back from 9-5 down in a best-of-19, can win title after title after title, then Stephen Hendry is your man. Without a shadow of a doubt, the best snooker player of all time.
If you you look at total titles/finals Davis is superior - it is just that less of the tournaments were classed as 'ranking' titles at the time (75 singles titles in total v 68 to Hendry). I'm not qualified to comment on Joe or Fred Davies, or Ray Reardon, as thankfully not old enough! fair to say all great players in their own generation, and nigh on impossible for anyone to clearly label the best.
STEVE DAVIS IS BY FAR THE BEST SNOOKER PLAYER EVER AND A WONDERFUL AMBASSADOR FOR THE SPORT
Retire - how old is he?
how I wish I could retire so young.
(Best wishes to him)
Jeff , Have you, never competed in sport at any level.? In any sport there is only one place to finish and thats in first place.
With my humble experience, to achieve and maintain the performance level recorded by Stephen Hendry is highly commendable. The considerable effort, even to those with a natural talent, consider the dedication to years of practice and training. .
Although for me his dour facial expressions and cold demeaner has lacked a certain charisma. But my God he could play snooker!! There is doubt l if his record will ever be beaten, although Hendry will most certainly be rermmberred .
Good luck! Stephen in your new venture! because although you have retired from the World Stage, I am sure that Mr. Hendry has soething else in mind.
it seemed as though he could not miss a shot. The very best in his retirement it is what
he deserves. No sour grapes from anyone. CHEERS Stephen.
Definately the best snooker player ever inthe modern game.
Also a wonderful ambassodor for sport.
A Scot to be proud of.
The statistics don't lie, he was a phenomanal player. Considering he hasn't been bothering his backside over the past couple of years and still managed a 147 and a quarter final spot is scary. Could you imagine what he may have achieved had he knuckled down again? He deserves the title best ever.
Jeff. If you had real point to make then you'd get a response!