Take Selby to bounce back
Our snooker betting man Jeff Anderson is expecting Mark Selby to return to winning ways in the Premier League on Thursday night.
- Related Content
Premier League Snooker continues on Thursday night in Malvern where Mark Selby and Ding Junhui open proceedings, followed by John Higgins against Stephen Lee.
Selby needs a good result to get his league campaign back on track after losing his opener 5-1.
This event, though, is perfect for his style of play. He sees the shots as quick as any player on the circuit bar Ronnie O'Sullivan, so unless he is faced with a very difficult safety the 25-second time limit doesn't matter too much.
This helps because he does need a couple of seconds longer than the quicker players to get focused on the shot - but if you're clear what the options are as you arrive at the table then the clock is less of a factor.
It was these difficult safety shots that cost him his opening match against last week's Gdynia Open winner Neil Robertson. At the very start of their game, twice the Aussie left the 'Jester from Leicester' in trouble. Selby responded by playing the best shot he could but given the variables of these one-night tables, with cloth and cushions that can play markedly differently, it's in these opening gambits that a player can be vulnerable. The outcome of the preferred shot choice can still be uncertain - especially when playing the white slowly.
This helped Robertson get off to a flier and he then marched on to win easily 5-1 which has put Selby under pressure to do well in his three remaining group games.
But when it comes to shot selection, bottle and match temperament, the Jester time and again delivers. The reason he's world number one is essentially his choice of shot and refusal to push the boat out unless there is no alternative. In addition he leaves players difficult shots and then has the class to cash in.
He'll need to do this here but a win will put him right back in the hunt for a semi-final spot.
Ding is in decent form but the league is a different mindset and last week the Chinese star blew hot and cold when losing 4-2 to Stuart Bingham. Although he reached the final last year he has never been consistent enough in the league to back with confidence. The clinical aspect to his game does seem lacking in this event.
A Selby win is on the cards so we'll take the 13/8 (general). Also a heavy win will really help his cause and his shot selection and focus can bring that too so we'll have a small punt on the whitewash at 28/1 (Sky Bet, bet365) with a saver on a 5-1 win at 7/1 (general).
The second match of the night is difficult to call. Although Higgins won the Shanghai Masters last week he was distinctly unimpressive when beating Mark Allen in his opener here.
The Scot struggles sometimes to get comfortable under time pressure - his set-up and address aren't fluent enough to dominate in this format.
Lee has lost his first two matches and is highly unlikely to qualify especially after the way he performed. But he is still carrying on his good tour form from earlier in the year and won Asian PTC2 in Yixing two weeks ago.
Invariably in the Premier League though the arena is quite warm which Lee feels more than most players. He clearly struggled with the temperature in his two matches to date so we'll leave this one alone.