Finally able to post in this - been trying to do it from my phone whilst I've been away - kept logging out.
It could be argued that an excellent start to Doherty's season provides justification of the decision to award a wildcard. - It's certainly better than Doherty coming back, thanks to some good fortune and then getting beat 4-0, 4-1, 5-0 etc in each of his first round matches.
That mentioned however, I agree with those who make references to Hearn's many comments about players needing to be good enough. When you see players relegated from the tour getting wild-cards to return immediately then it does leave Hearn's words feeling a little hollow - even if neither of the wild-cards were massive surprises. Doherty deserves credit for his great start to the season, but some of the adulation seems to be a bit overblown e.g. comparisons made to Rod Lawler's recent success after his relegation (given Lawler had to earn his place back on tour)
The problem with issuing wild-cards is that it will inevitably cause some annoyance among some of the other players who may not be so fortunate. Hearn seems to be caught in a situation where whilst he is trying to maintain the development of snooker in the public eye back towards anything like the zenith of its consciousness with the public, he is also trying to keep it as a brand of entertainment. Personally, I think that entertainment should come from good sport and not the allocation or admission to what is a members tour and not a 'totally' open one.
In the Premier League, you wouldn't expect the league to expand to 21 clubs because a majorly successful side had been relegated at the end of a season. So why should a successful player be granted a second chance because of a number of former glories. - on the other hand, Goran Ivanisevic – in the Autumn of his career received a Wildcard for Wimbledon in 2001 – and went on to win the event completely justifying the Wild-card (Albeit in a sport where they are much more common than snooker)
Some questions to ponder
How do you justify a wild-card selection? If Wild-cards are supposed to help the development of a newcomer or to expand the game does the allocation's of wildcards to players aged 47 and 55 respectively both of whom come from countries with established snooker backgrounds meet those?
Do you create criteria for consideration of a wild-card? Do you offer them to former World Champions (which in itself rules out the likes of Jimmy White) – Do you offer them to Triple Crown event winners? (Which generates a number of eligible candidates). How would Player A receiving a wild-card be justified over Player B?
Does the very nature of having criteria for wild-cards diminish the actual point of having a wild-card.