No gold, Indian billiards missed Advani at World C`ships
New Delhi: No Indian cueist managed to win a gold medal at the recently-concluded World Billiards Championships and the one who probably had the best chance could not be there because of a clash in scheduling.
India`s poster boy of cue sports, Pankaj Advani, an eight-time world champions, had to miss the event due to his qualification for the `International Championship`, one of the most prestigious major ranking snooker events.
While there were world champions in the mix like Geet Sethi, Rupesh Shah and Ashok Shandilya, the absence of any real danger from India was felt in the event played in the point and new long-up format in the 3-ball game.
What also took the sheen off the World Championships was when Mike Russell, one of the greatest of all time, got suspended from both formats for misconduct off the table.
With commitments of the professional snooker circuit keeping Advani occupied throughout the year, it was always going to be a scheduling challenge to defend his title in billiards this year without a sacrifice.
Last year, he forfeited his qualification to the inaugural International Championship in China to play billiards and the gamble paid off.
He became the only player in the world in 2012 to win the pro billiards world title (time format) while being an active pro snooker player.
However, this year the talented Indian decided to give the world billiards championship a miss in order to fully focus on snooker.
Had the International Championship not coincided with the World Billiards Championship, could India have brought a world title home?
Without Advani and Russell, the world billiards was thrown wide open and it indeed resulted in two deserving cueists emerging triumphant.
There was a first-time winner in David Causier, a Brit who has been considered a major underachiever of billiards. His unorthodox style of play has not impressed the purists but proved highly effective in getting him his maiden world title in the points format.
The champion of the up format was two-time winner Peter Gilchrist, who pulled off his third after 12 years. The Englishman, who got naturalised as a Singaporean citizen a few years ago in order to represent them in the sport, took optimum advantage of non-attendance of two heavyweights -- Russell and Advani.
The year 2008 saw Advani reign supreme in Bangalore where he became the first person ever to win twin titles in both formats of billiards in the same year for the second time. He was the first to do so in Malta in 2005.
The World Professional Billiards Championship went to Advani twice - 2009 and 2012 - after he defeated Russell in both finals.
The UK-born legend, Russell, who is now a coach for the Qatar players, termed his worthy Indian opponent as a "Ton Machine" after settling for the runners-up trophy last year.
In the last decade, barring Geet Sethi`s eighth world title in 2006 and Rupesh Shah`s exploits in 2007 and 2012 (both in point format), Advani has been the only consistent contributor to the nation`s kitty of world titles (eight of them in 10 years), including an IBSF snooker world title in 2003.