Wiltshire’s 19 year old prospect Ben Harrison first came to my attention on Twitter when he was tweeting during the Q School and helping our own Wild update the scores for Snooker Island when the live scoring feed on World Snooker was undergoing essential maintenance. When he found out I was going to the Pink Ribbon event he invited me to come and watch him play which I duely did, and I was suitably impressed. He plays with a natural flair and goes for his shots but he also has a very nice touch in and around the black and can knock in a frame winning break in the time it takes you read this intro! So without further a do, here is the first of the “names to watch out for” interviews.
Roland Cox: When did you start playing snooker?
Ben Harrison: I was about 9 and I started playing pool on holiday in Spain, and then when we got back my dad took me to his club. I started playing once a week and entered local competitions on Saturdays, and then when I was 13 I thought I’d better step it up. I found out how much the top professionals were playing so since then I’ve been playing all the time.
RC: So you had a club that was nearby?
BH: Yes it was about 10 minutes away, Stephen Lee’s club in Trowbridge. But that shut down a couple of years ago so I play in one closer to my house now which is ideal.
RC: How old were you when you made your first century break?
BH: 13, it was 105. It came about 3 months after I started practicing solid.
RC: Have you made any maximums?
BH: Yes I’m on 11 now.
RC: So how has your amateur career been so far?
BH: Well I only started playing in the regional tours when I was 15, and my sponsor helped me. Most of them (other young players) had been doing it since they were 10 or 11. I think I set the record points on my regional tour the first year I entered and I won 5 or 6 events. So then I went onto the premier tour and did quite well there, finished top 6 and that’s when Stephen Craigie and the others were on there.
RC: Which others?
BH: People like Kyren Wilson, Jack Lisowski, Liam Highfield, Michael Wasley, Sam Craigie, Alex Dunkley and Kamran Ashraf.
RC: So when did you think you could have a crack at the big time?
BH: Well I used to play with my mate Stephen who is about my age and we were both playing every day. He eventually decided he had to find some work, so I made the choice to not have any money, and keep practicing and go for the career. I started playing with Stephen Lee and Adam Wicheard as well and he’s a professional now so I’ve got some good practice partners to help me improve and try and get on the main tour.
RC: You were recently playing in the Q School for a place on tour so how did that come about?
BH: Well I played in the QSP Series up here in Gloucester and I got the final of the first event, semis in the second and won the third and the top 4 got £1000 to enter Q School with. And I had sponsors to help me out with accommodation which was great.
RC: Have you enjoyed the Pink Ribbon?
BH: Yeah it’s been really good, I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve had a bit of match practice, and took a couple of frames off John (Higgins), so it’s been really good.
RC: Do you think you’ve benefitted from having 4 entries so you can play about and try some different things without the pressure of just having one entry?
BH: When I first got here… I took it seriously, but I had lots of chances so I took on more balls and it seemed to be working, so that’s how I played. But I had a couple of tough matches today.
RC: The first one was Martin Gould at 9am, how was that?
BH: It was very scrappy, a real early morning match! I had a 70 to get back into it at 3-1, but it was scrappy and he’s a really good player so it was tough.
RC: And then you had John Higgins in the main arena.
BH: That was unbelievable. It was a really good experience.
RC: Is the step up in class obvious when you play him?
BH: Yes everything’s the same, every shot. It’s unbelievable to watch and I was in awe of him as he went round the table and I had to try and cut that out. Still, I managed to hold my own for a few frames so I’m very happy.
RC: What are your plans for the future?
BH: Well I want to get on the main tour as soon as possible really, and once I’m there that’s when it starts. I think getting on that tour and staying on for the first year and take it from there. Ultimately I think I’m good enough to get in the top 16.
RC: You’re entering the PTC events aren’t you?
BH: Yes and I’m going to do the European ones as well for the experience. It’ll be good to travel around a bit and be around the other players.
RC: So how are you funding it?
BH: Well I’ve got a couple of sponsors who are helping me out and that should pay for the entries and accommodation which is a big help.
RC: Do you follow the game on television and who is your favourite player or main influence?
BH: It has to be Ronnie, I love the way he plays. He flies around the table left-handed and right-handed and that’s why I tried to play left-handed as you’ve seen.
RC: I have and you look very natural when you switch hands. Do you practice much?
BH: Well I started by just having a go for a laugh and it actually felt alright, so now I practice a couple of hours a week with it. I’ve had a century with it.
RC: You’ve had a century left-handed?
BH: Well only in line ups! But I had a 92 in a proper frame a little while ago. That’s what I do when I start playing bad because it makes me realise how much better I am with my right hand, although my left hand is still improving.
RC: I noticed in one of the frames you won against Higgins that you had the chance to play a yellow left-handed but instead you went for the mini-butt.
BH: Haha well I nearly, nearly played left-handed but I thought I’m going to look so stupid if I miss it!
RC: Have you got any friends on tour?
BH: I’m quite good friends with Jimmy White, and I used to practice with Judd before he moved to London but I’m still really good mates with him, and Jack Lisowski as well. And Steve Lee is a very good mate as well and he’s helped me a lot.
RC: What do you think of what Judd did at the Crucible?
BH: It was brilliant! I was chuffed to bits for him. It was only a matter of time before he was going to come through.
RC: And the final?
BH: He didn’t change his game, he didn’t let John dictate the pace or anything, he just went out and played his game which is what I like so much about him. He’s so good to watch, so exciting!
RC: Ben thanks very much and good luck in the PTC’s and hope to see you on tour very soon!
Since the interview took place Ben has signed to Pockets Promotions and all being well has agreed to share his PTC campaign with Snooker Island so watch this space!