Snooker boss Barry Hearn has called for Steve Davis to be knighted after the six-time world champion announced his retirement.
Davis lost to Ireland’s Fergal O’Brien on Saturday in the first round of qualifying for this year’s World Championship and decided to call time on a career which began in 1978.
The 58-year-old dominated snooker in the 1980s, winning six Crucible titles in the space of eight years, while also occupying the world No1 spot between 1983 and 1990. He won 28 raking titles, putting him joint second on the all-time list alongside Ronnie O’Sullivan and John Higgins.
“A knighthood is so far overdue for Steve Davis it is difficult to comprehend, given the level of his contribution to British sport,” said Hearn. “It would be the very least he deserves. It’s not just the titles, he hasn’t stopped representing the country for 40 years.”
Davis added: “I phoned up [long-term manager] Barry and told him it was on my mind to enter the world championship and make that the last. He said: ‘Steve, you retired 10 years ago, we just didn’t have the heart to tell you.’”
World No2 O’Sullivan, meanwhile, began his own quest for a sixth world title by building a 6-3 lead over David Gilbert during yesterday’s afternoon session in Sheffield. The match continues this morning.
Defending champion Stuart Bingham was the latest player to suffer the anguish of the so-called ‘Crucible curse’ after slipping to a 10-9 defeat to two-time finalist Ali Carter in the opening round.
“I’m gutted to be going back home,” said Bingham. “I battled to 9-8 and missed a couple of chances to wrap the game up. It just wasn’t meant to be for me. It was a tough draw and I just came up short.”
Shaun Murphy, last year’s beaten finalist, followed Bingham out of the tournament with a 10-8 loss to Scotland’s Anthony McGill before tipping his conqueror to go far in the competition. Murphy said: “If he can keep his composure, keep himself under wraps and keep playing with enjoyment, he could take some stopping.”