Exclusive: Steve Davis on Selby’s mindset and the never-ending excitement for the Crucible

With the World Championship snooker event just around the corner, Sportsboom chats with legend of the sport Steve Davis.

Shane MacDermott
S. MacDermott

Last Updated: 2024-04-19

Louis Hobbs

3 minutes read

Steve Davis holding a trophy following his retirement from professional snooker

Showcasing a low morale 

Snooker royalty Steve Davis has warned people to write Mark Selby off at their peril for this year’s World Championship.

Four-time King of the Crucible Selby heads to Sheffield at an all-time low ebb with his game.

He revealed at the recent Tour Championship that he could retire if he continues to perform poorly and not enjoy the game.

But the Jester from Leicester, 40, is a Crucible specialist with only legends Davis, Ray Reardon (both six), Stephen Hendry, and

Ronnie O’Sullivan (both seven) ahead of him in terms of world titles in the modern era.

Image Credits: Arts Professional

Image Credits: Arts Professional

The world No.5 was drawn against fellow Leicester potter Joe O’Connor, the only debutant in the field this year. And Davis, who dominated the baize in the 80s, told “You can never write him off with his pedigree at the Crucible.

"It’s never nice to hear a player talking about potentially retiring or being down about their game.

“If you’re a fan of Mark’s and you’re hearing he’s coming into the World Championship with negative thoughts, that’s not great.

“It’s not ideal, but it’s not impossible. I think Mark enjoys the challenge of the longer events. He can really get his teeth into it.

“I think all the top players enjoy the longer matches, but some seem to like them more than others.

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If Mark Selby gets on a roll he’s like a juggernaut, you can’t stop him.

Steve Davis

The main man despite a lineup of “great players” 

World No.1 O’Sullivan is the man to beat once again on the game’s grandest stage as the Rocket bids to eclipse old rival Hendry with a record eighth Crucible gong.

Lifting the iconic trophy for a third time in five years would also see him complete the Triple Crown in the same season for the first time in his unrivaled career having already pocketed the UK Championship and Masters this term.

But Davis believes it is far from a foregone conclusion that O’Sullivan will be standing tall come May 6.

He added: “There are so many great players and the field is as strong as it’s ever been.

“Ronnie is, of course, the favourite after the season he’s had, but I don’t think he’s as short-priced as people think.

“The bookies are rarely ever wrong, but he’s a bigger price than they have put up. I think they’ve done that in anticipation of so much money being lumped on him.”

A burning love for the World Championship

Davis is making the annual pilgrimage to Sheffield for the 45th time after making his debut back in 1979.

Image Credits: ITV

Image Credits: ITV

He will once again be a key part of the BBC coverage, but admitted he still gets wrapped up in the excitement of the 17-day Crucible circus.

"There’s a genuine excitement when you get there, even when you’re not a player anymore,” added the six-time champion.

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It’s different, you haven’t got as many butterflies in the stomach, but it still drags back the memories when you drive past the place.

Steve Davis

“Knowing full well what every player’s going through in the build-up to it, the anticipation rubs off a little bit.

“It’s nice knowing you don’t have to go out there and play a match where you possibly fall apart. It’s the worst thing in the world because if it goes wrong at the Crucible, it really goes wrong.

“It’s quite nice to not have worries. But we all go there knowing how important it is in our world.

“When you arrive on the first day, that first commentary session or first stint in the studio you feel the excitement around the place.”

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Shane MacDermott
Shane MacDermott Sports Writer

Shane is a respected journalist who has covered a range of sports for a number of years.