Ronnie O’Sullivan has brutally criticised John Astley over a missed shot at a crucial moment in his Welsh Open first-round defeat against Mark Williams. The world No. 1 withdrew from the tournament and is instead working as a pundit for Eurosport, and he hasn’t minced his words on the opening day.
Astley, ranked 78th in the world, entered the clash as the firm underdog against Williams, a former world No. 1 and two-time Welsh Open champion.
But the 35-year-old was in a strong position on the table with the match poised at two frames a piece and holding a 47-44 lead in the fifth frame.
Astley squandered a cushion shot, though, which opened the door for world No.8 Williams to take advantage and march to a 4-2 victory on home soil.
O’Sullivan has won his last 10 matches, lifting The Masters and World Grand Prix titles during that run, but has been absent since January 23, dropping out of the German Masters and Welsh Open.
However, on pundit duties in Wales, Rocket was asked to dissect Astley’s costly miss, and he didn’t hold back with his assessment, suggesting he doesn’t have either of two traits that make a good snooker player.
“I mean, for me, if I’ve got a chance and I think I should win the game, if I’m at a position, I’m taking it on because I just can’t accept that I’m not going to win the frame from that visit,” O’Sullivan said on Eurosport.
“So it’s hard to sort of refuse balls sometimes. I’d probably try and screw that in, pinch it in a bit. And you know, at least if you miss it, the red goes away… but to play it like that, he’s not even on the black. Yeah, bad shot.
“I mean, he hasn’t got a snooker brain, really. That’s what it is. You’ve got to have a snooker brain. Some people are good at maths. Some people are good at English.
“Some people just have a snooker brain, and some people just don’t play the right shot, and they’ll never play the right shot because their brain doesn’t think like a snooker player.
“There are a lot of fantastic players over the years that haven’t really… you’d be surprised at some top five players, I won’t mention names, that I don’t think have a snooker brain but have such good technique that they can get away with it.