Parrott cue-less as Williams wins

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The Independent Online
Mark Williams, the 21-year-old Welsh left-hander who beat John Parrott to win the Regal Welsh Open last February, potted the world No 4 off the table to emerge a 6-1 winner of their semi-final in the Grand Prix at Bournemouth in only one hour 49 minutes.

"I didn't function in the first half but he just potted some unbelievable balls," said Parrott. "He's an opponent I always have trouble with. I think it's important when you play the younger players to stamp your authority on proceedings and I've never managed to do that with him."

A scrappy first frame and a fusillade of breaks, 74, 31, 54, 49 and 100 - took Williams to 4-0 at the mid-session interval.

Parrott's mid-frame 54 was responsible for him winning the fifth but the sixth - and any real chance of victory - slipped away in the exchanges on the colours.

A breathtaking long yellow with perfect position via two cushions for green was amazingly followed by the young Welshman's failure on this ball. Parrott, in laying a snooker, inadvertently potted the green and then, from the self-inflicted snooker fluked the brown but, mishitting a tricky safety on blue, fell 5-1 adrift.

Williams swept through the clinching frame with a break of 70 and commented: "If I could play like I do in practice things could start happening."

Despite this, life is sweet for Parrott these days. In the summer he was awarded the MBE, chiefly for his charitable work on Merseyside. His easygoing personality is making him a popular new team captain on A Question of Sport, and his wife Karen is due to give birth to their second child in the next couple of days, an event prompting his withdrawal from the England team for the revived and much-extended World Cup which starts in Bangkok on Tuesday.

With selection strictly according to world ranking, Ronnie O'Sullivan, the world No 8, Peter Ebdon (No 3) and Nigel Bond (No 5) comprise the England trio. All have long since departed from Bournemouth.

At 32, Parrott is in his prime, though it seemed only a month ago that he might not be able to take full advantage of this. His cue went missing, believed stolen, somewhere between a Liverpool post office and his London cue-maker, to whom he was sending it for minor repairs.

Although his cue-maker, John Parris, quickly made a replica from measurements he already held, Parrott was anticipating the lengthy period of adjustment he had endured when the cue with which he won the 1991 World and UK titles disappeared from a Heathrow car park.

"I got there about 2am and I had to be up at six to go to Thailand. I thought it would be OK but someone put a jackhammer through the window. I had to play James Wattana next day with a toothpick," he said.

This time, the adjustment period was amazingly short and Parrott is happier with the replacement than the original. "I'm offering a reward to whoever stole it," he quipped.