Higgins fears for snooker but praises Sturgeon's handling of lockdown

·3-min read
Higgins reckons Scotland's first minister is following a sensible path in enhancing lockdown restrictions
Higgins reckons Scotland's first minister is following a sensible path in enhancing lockdown restrictions

John Higgins fears for the future of snooker but believes Nicola Sturgeon is following the right course of action in tightening lockdown restrictions, writes Will Jennings.

Wishaw’s Higgins advanced to the third round of the English Open after an assured 4-0 win over Connor Benzey kept his hopes of a 31st ranking event title alive.

The tournament in Milton Keynes is being held behind closed doors and comes a week after Scotland’s first minister announced further Covid-19 measures including the closure of pubs, clubs and restaurants across the country’s central belt.

Four-time world champion Higgins worries about the economic impact of the virus on snooker - but heaped praise on Sturgeon for keeping the country safe.

“Who knows if the sport will be here in three years?” the 45-year-old said.

“You’re seeing a lot of things with the football and the football clubs are shutting down if there’s going to be no fans.

“Who knows? I don’t think anybody knows what’s going to happen in the next two or three years.

“It’s affected all our family’s lives - I’m happy obviously there’s stricter restrictions coming in now as I think it’s needed with all the deaths and there are more people getting it.The stricter the better from Nicola, hopefully.

“I think you’ve got to be extra cautious because the R-rate is rising as well.

“We’re going to have to live with it I think for at least the next two or three years until we can try and get a vaccine so we’ve just got to live with it.

“It’s trying to strike a balance between having a normal life but it’s tough, and there are no right answers.”

Evergreen Higgins rolled back the years at the Marshall Arena as breaks of 97 and 50 helped down his opponent in quick time.

And the current world No.7 is enjoying a positive vain of form despite the absence of spectators, having struck the Crucible’s 11th maximum 147 break against Kurt Maflin at this year’s World Championship.

The Scot’s own table meant he could continue practicing through lockdown - and he says he’s willing to play behind closed doors for as long as fans returning remains unsafe.

Asked if he was happy with the current circumstances given the virus, he said: “Of course.

“It’s amazing how you get used to it - this is the norm now so you’ve just got to get on with it. We’re lucky we’re still playing as there are other sports that are suffering right now.

“I’ve been lucky that I’ve got a table in the house so I can keep myself isolated, so that’s a good thing.”

Watch the snooker English Open live on Eurosport, Eurosport app and Quest