Davis: We expected a longer ban for Higgins

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The Independent Online

Steve Davis yesterday admitted that, behind the scenes, many snooker players were half-expecting a longer ban for John Higgins, writes Hector Nunns in Glasgow. Earlier this month, world No 1 Higgins picked up a six-month ban and was fined £75,000 for rules breaches relating to a Kiev meeting which was filmed in a newspaper sting. The Scot saw two more serious charges of corruption and fraud withdrawn following allegations that he and former manager Pat Mooney had agreed to throw frames for money. But six-times world champion Davis' comments are a window into attitudes that Higgins will have to combat from rivals when he returns to competitive action in November. Davis said: "Mud does stick, and it is going to take a lot of un-sticking. The majority of players possibly thought John was going to get longer as a punishment. They didn't have the full facts [but] it will be very tough for him going back. When you are playing badly, you wonder what commentators are saying about you. John is going to have to deal with a lot more than that." Higgins has kept a low profile in the last 10 days, with his father suffering from ill health. Speaking to the BBC, he said: "It's the worst thing, people questioning your credibility. Your credibility is what you've been brought up to be. I have not picked up a cue since I lost to Steve Davis at the Crucible in April. There were points in my darkest hours when I wondered if I would again, but I'll be able to do that on 2 November."

Motor sport

Williams test drive for Briton

British driver Dean Stoneman clinched the Formula Two Championship in Valencia to secure a test drive with the Williams Formula One team. The 20-year-old from Southampton emerged triumphant from a season-long battle with his compatriot Jolyon Palmer to be crowned the first British F2 title winner since 1983. Stoneman said: "Getting into Formula One has always been my dream and this brings me closer." Meanwhile, Casey Stoner held off Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa to secure pole for today's Aragon Moto GP. Andrea Dovizioso, third in the standings, is in eighth place, one place behind Valentino Rossi.