Record slow TV frame

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The Independent Online
Slow, slow, click, click, slow. Never has the click of cue on televised snooker ball had such an absence of urgency. Sportsmen and women are usually happy to find their way into the record books, but Mick Price and Chris Small could be excused for being exceptions, writes Mark Burton

Yesterday they took 72min 16sec to complete the first frame of their second-round match at the British Open in Plymouth, a record for the longest televised frame in a professional ranking tournament.

Into the bargain the tortoise-like twosome blotted out of the record books a reminder of an absolute belter of a frame. One of the three 69- minute slogs that shared the old mark was Dennis Taylor's nail-biting black-ball victory over Steve Davis that settled the 1985 world final.

Had viewers anticipated yesterday's antidote to drama they could, for example, have watched two videotaped episodes of Neighbours and one of Home and Away and still switched back in time to see Small, the world No 86, take the frame 73-42. Perhaps overwhelmed by his attritional achievement, Small surrendered the next three frames and finally lost 5-2 to Price, who is ranked 59 places higher.

Their marathon, however, fell some way short of the longest frame ever to be played in a professional tournament. It will come as no surprise to aficionados that the outright record for grinding through a single frame is shared by "The Grinder" himself, Cliff Thorburn. The Canadian former world champion exchanged shots with the Irishman, Stephen O'Connor, for 92min 59sec during qualifying for the Regal Welsh Open last year.

On the day that his record received such dismissive treatment, Taylor suggested the game's teenage prodigy, Ronnie O'Sullivan, should start showing his opponents some respect. As the pair prepared for their second- round match, Taylor said: "Ronnie is brilliant and has the potential to be the greatest player in the history of snooker But he has a tendency to treat players with a bit of contempt and he must get that out of his system."

Results, Sporting Digest, page 39