Ben Harrison PTC4

by Roland Cox

(Cont’d from PTC3 blog)

Ben in action in PTC4 with Allan ‘The Albino Assassin’ Taylor on the adjacent table

PTC4: Fuerth, Germany

Dates: 24-28/08/11

4-0 Laurin Winters
4-0 Felix Pleschek
4-2 Allan Taylor
1-4 Martin Gould

Points: 0

Table position: N/A

4-0 Laurin Winters
The first couple of matches were good just to get going and get used to the conditions. Against Laurin I hit a 50 in each frame and was hitting the ball really nicely. I had some coaching from Frank Adamson after the last PTC and he sorted out a few things so I was trying to put that into a match situation.

What was his standard?
I’m not going to lie, it was pretty terrible. To his credit he was quite fearless and was playing the right shots, but he didn’t really have the ability to play them.

4-0 Felix Pleschek
He was a bit better than the first player but I could instantly tell by the way he was cueing that he was a pool player. He was a good potter and potted a few good long ones but when he was around the black he didn’t really know what he was doing. I had a couple of 60s and a good 80 in the last frame using blues and pinks.

4-2 Allan Taylor
It was very noticeable that the crowd was bigger because a lot of the big names had been playing throughout the day and we were on in the evening, so there were still a lot of people who had stayed around. Mark Selby was watching as well which made it a bit nervy!

I started off badly and lost the first frame. We’d both been hanging around all day and I hadn’t done anything since the previous afternoon so that probably had something to do with it. Then I went 2-1 up and then it was 2-2 and I had a 50 in the next to go 3-2. In the last frame I twitched a bit on a black when I was on 50 something. It was a cut back and I tried to hold for a red when I should really have dropped it in and used the rest on the next shot. He went red, black, red and got a kick on the black which was unlucky for him and he ended up needing 3 snookers on the last red. He had me in a few really tough ones and I played some really good shots to get out of them. I was working on getting out of snookers with Frank Adamson and I took everything he said on board and did it all there.

I was happy because even though I was confident I would win, it was a banana skin qualifier because Allan is a good player. He’s a good potter and he’s got a good all round game so it was about as tough as it gets in the qualifying rounds.

1-4 Martin Gould
Overall it wasn’t great! My long game was really good, like the first ball of the match after his break-off there was a red about 8 inches off the cushion level with the pink and I dug into the white from under the cushion and stunned it in sweet as a nut. But I struggled a bit on the table. It wasn’t very good; it was really slow down behind the black so it was quicker in one area of the table than another which is confusing as a player because you don’t quite know how it’s going to end up.

I lost the first frame which was really scrappy, and in the next he made a really good break with lots of browns and blues, and then I missed a red which I hit too thick and he potted a good distance red and made another 40. Those are the sort of frames you have to be able to play at this level; really tough solid frames.

He needed a snooker in the next one, and we were down to the blue and he had me tight behind the black, and I miscued! The white was touching the black and I had to jack the cue up and when I played it the white sort of skidded off the tip, it wasn’t a clean hit. Luckily it didn’t cost me and I potted a long blue to make it 2-1.

We both had chances in the next frame and he nicked it on the blue which was a bit frustrating and then he won the last and I had chances in that as well. The only frame I didn’t have a chance in was the 2nd frame, otherwise I had a good chance in all the others, and I just wasn’t playing well enough to take them.

Red down the rail left-handed – easy!

Can you put that down to anything in particular?
I don’t know really, I started missing and then he would start missing and it was just one of those types of games. It’s like in practice one day you’re playing brilliantly and then the next day you start off playing crap. Against Gould I started off ok and potted a few good long balls, and the crowd were clapping away which got my confidence going a bit, and then it just sort of faltered. When it goes like that it becomes such a tough game to play. But it was good experience playing in front of a crowd.

(Martin Gould went on to beat Dechawat Poomjaeng 4-1 before losing to Michael White 4-1)

Overall performance at PTC4:
6/10. I played well against Allan so 5 would be a bit harsh but I was disappointed with how I played against Martin.

How was the experience?
It was such a good environment to play in with all the people watching. It was hard as well because there’s a lot going on around you, like one time Higgins was playing on the end table and they were going mad clapping and whistling, and you’ve always got people moving around in the crowd, but you’ve just got to get used to it, you can’t make it an excuse and I know I’ll learn from it and know what to expect next time.

How was the journey down?
It was good fun. Well not that much fun because it was early morning but I brought a load of my cds and we had those playing and the journey was broken up nicely, 2.5 hours to Dover then 1.5 hours on the ferry then a 6 hour drive from Calais. It sounds a lot but it really wasn’t too bad.

We’re now one third of the way through the PTCs having played 4 of the 12 so when you look back on the first 4 what are your thoughts on how it’s gone so far?
I think I’m going in the right direction and it’s only a matter of time before I have a half decent run. I was unlucky against Stephen Lee in PTC3 although I would have had a tough draw playing Ding next. But I’m just trying to find my form again because at the start of the year I found some really good form and got used to winning. When you get used to winning you then find a way of winning when you’re not playing that well and that’s what I need to do. I think if I can get one or two good wins against good players then I’ll be on my way.

You’ve have had some tough draws
Yes I had Joyce in the first one and he’d just come off winning the Pink Ribbon. He did well last year and he’ll be up there again this year. Then Dave Harold played well against me, and Stephen Lee who is now I think provisionally 13th and I can’t even begin to tell you how well he is cueing at the moment, and Martin Gould who is on his way up to the top 16 so yes it’s been pretty tough.

Your record so far: 9 wins, 4 defeats, 0 points and no prize money
I said last time about having points to at least have something to show for it. I asked Adam Wicheard the other day how he was doing and I know it’s completely different because he’s playing pros all the time, but he said he’s only won one match but he’s on 200 points.

What’s the feeling among your peers, the other top amateurs?
They agree with me. There are other players who have qualified in all the PTCs and they say the same as me that they’d like a few points to show for it. Hopefully someone in World Snooker can do something about it. I mean considering we have to get there a few days earlier than everyone else it means you have to pay for 2 nights more in the hotels and 2 days more food so it’s a bit harsh. The European ones have about 100 more entries than the ones in the UK so there are more rounds to play and yet the prize money is less because it’s in Euros! Someone somewhere must be making a lot of money out of this!

What do you think of the number of qualification spots and the likelihood of qualifying for the tour through the PTCs?
Well I believe I can get on the tour. Once I reach that last 32 which is just two wins, then that’s the start and if you do that a couple of times then you’re in the 50s. I know it’s possible and I believe I can do it.

We had Sean O’Sullivan and Sanderson Lam playing on international television via Eurosport, and as you were playing Stephen Lee in PTC3 news came through that the winner would get the live stream against Ding. What would it mean to actually play in one of these scenarios?
I would love it, absolutely love it. Playing out there in Germany with the crowds made me realise even more that this is what I want to do for my career. I love playing in front of the crowd, I love it when you get clapped when you pot a long ball, I just love the whole atmosphere. And knowing you’re playing to millions watching, especially if you’re against someone like Ding or Williams, I would just love it. If you’re in a match like that then there’s no pressure on you because people at home would be watching thinking you’ve got no chance and I don’t think people realise just how good some of these amateurs are. I mean you get a lot of players that people have never heard of, and it’s good publicity for them to be seen on the stream or on tv.

What are you up to between now and the next PTC?
I think I’m going to practice a lot on my own and try a few new routines as well as practicing with Adam and Steve. I didn’t score heavy enough in this PTC so there are a few things I need to work on. I mean I’ve scored ok but I’ve tended to break down once I get to 50 and I can’t afford to do that. Scoring is my strongest point and that’s what I’ve got to remember.

You’ve been looking for a nickname, how’s it going?
I wanted Hitman but that belongs to Michael Holt, and when I was younger everyone used to call me Hurricane Harrison but unfortunately that one’s out of bounds. I’ve had lots of suggestions, I’ve had Transformer, Heartbreaker, Shotmaker, Ben ‘Boom Boom’ Harrison, Hawkeye Harrison, Hoover, Wiltshire Warrior, Ben The Hair Harrison, Ben Precision Harrison, there are some terrible ones in there!

(Click for PTC5 blog)

If you have a nickname suggestion for Ben you can tell him on Twitter. You can follow his PTC progress on Snooker Island.

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