Hendry rues lack of emerging Brits
Seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry believes there is a dearth of emerging snooker talent in Britain, with China streaking clear in terms of the next generation.
Hendry, now a television pundit, is unsure how to go about unearthing future champions in his homeland of Scotland and the wider British Isles, but he suggests there has 'never been a better time to be a professional snooker player'.
Ding Junhui in 2016 is the first and only player from the Far East to reach a World Championship final at the Crucible, while Australia's Neil Robertson (2010) remains the only overseas winner since Cliff Thorburn some 38 years ago.
Hendry, though, feels that may change in the next cycle.
The only youngsters I see coming through are from China.Mark Williams
"I haven't seen any in the whole of the UK, never mind Scotland," Hendry said of the up-and-coming youngsters he is aware of. "Working as a pundit I don't really know too much about the amateur game but the only youngsters I see coming through are from China."
The lure of other sports is one factor, with Hendry suggesting "you don't even need to be that good and you can still earn £100,000 a week" as a professional footballer.
The changing face of snooker however means that there is now big money to be won on the green baize.
"What I would say, is that there is almost £20m in prize money on the snooker circuit in a year, so if you are a young boy or girl who is talented and want to give it a go there has never been a better time to be a professional snooker player," he added.
Mark Williams defeated John Higgins in last seasons' Crucible decider, while Ronnie O'Sullivan remains as potent as ever. The veteran trio shared ten titles between them last season and Hendry sees them remaining around for another while yet.
"[Those three] are 42, 43 and together they won more than half the tournaments last year," says Hendry. "So they are still the very best in the world, although Mark Selby is No 1. I don't see that changing this season or the season after either."
Higgins is 8/11 to win the China Championship this week, with Selby priced at 13/8 and world champion Williams available at 1212/1.
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