Desmond Kane

O’Sullivan’s record 147 brimming with special effects as bewitching as Gravity

Desmond Kane

Before watching Gravity a few weeks ago, a film that finds George Clooney and Sandra Bullock as a pair of unlikely astronauts lost in space, I had an hour or so to kill. I asked my mate if he had managed to catch Ronnie O'Sullivan's maximum 147 break against Ding Junhui from the night before. It was a remarkable knock coming in the final frame of a 9-3 win that saw him snare the Welsh Open for a third time. It was perhaps more plausible than the casting of George in Gravity.

"Watch the shot on final red," I said firing up the mobile. "I've never seen anything like it."

It was slightly surreal poring over it again with O'Sullivan on the outskirts of London during an interlude in his practice schedule ahead of this week's PTC Grand final at Preston's Guild Hall, a tournament that sees him start out against Scott Donaldson on Wednesday. He seemed content enough with his latest 'maxi' which is understandable because it is a vision of sporting utopia.

At moments you find yourself having a chuckle such is the audacity of it, but that is the bewitching effect this bloke continues to have on snooker. He captivates audiences. Study the crowd's reaction during his maximum. Like Frank Sinatra in the ring at Madison Square Garden, he has them in the palm of his hand.

As part of a legacy he is aiming to leave, O'Sullivan's latest 147 carried him one ahead of Stephen Hendry at the top of the all-time list. Hendry contributed 11 competitive maximums before he retired in 2012.

You can watch the break in the video at the top of the blog with O'Sullivan offering his own analysis on new Eurosport series The Ronnie O’Sullivan Show.

There tends to be one pivotal point in every maximum that defines the majesty of the moment ranging from Cliff Thorburn fluking an opening red on the way to the first televised 147 at the World Championship in 1983 (Steve Davis recorded the first televised 147 at the Lada Classic a year earlier) or Kirk Stevens running a white around the angles to land on the brown from green at the 1984 Masters.

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O'Sullivan's key shot probably came in the death throes of the frame. He is officially right handed but gets the job done more than competently with his left, as he demonstrates by playing a deep screw shot on the last remaining red into a baulk bag just off a side rail before seeing the white land perfect on the black. The blue that goes down the hole is not bad either given that it leaves the table yet still drops.

Rapid and ambidextrous, O'Sullivan would not be the great maverick of the game without producing some more theatre on the final black. He nonchalantly flicks out his tongue to the television cameras before rolling in the black with his left hand as if it were hanging over the pocket.

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Ronnie O'Sullivan speaks to Australia's greatest player, the 2010 world champion Neil Robertson, for the first installment of The Ronnie O'Sullivan Show on Eurosport.

O'Sullivan is the natural successor to Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins and Jimmy ‘Whirlwind’ White as the people's champion. The only difference being he is addicted to running rather than booze or fags. And he has used his gumption to make good on his promise after unsettled periods in his life. Unpredictable, unrelenting and forever undulating, he is a form of attacking bliss on a snooker table who continues to command the attention of those outwith the game.

Worryingly for his opponents, he has also lovingly embraced the tactical joust to some effect during his run to back-to-back world gongs over the past two years. No more does he cut a childish figure when he is not getting the run of the ball.

Snooker has suffered in the UK since the halcyon days of the 1980s when Davis was estimated to spend more time on the terrestrial television than Maggie Thatcher, but the decline in visibility has hardly affected the game's blue-chip event.

It will forever remain a mystery why he did not feature in the nominations for last year's BBC Sports Personality of the Year? Who else could take a year out of any sport before returning to defend their World Championship? Whether or not he is your cup of tea, he has personality.

It was doubly preposterous when you imagine the amount of votes he might garner from the British public in an open vote. He is well liked because he is believable.

It is welcome news for these pages that O'Sullivan will be sharing his views on snooker and life with us. But all snooker fans will gain access to what makes him tick in the weeks ahead. Hopefully, it will inform and entertain. It is fair to say, the Ronnie O'Sullivan show has been running since he turned professional at the age of 16 in 1992.

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Ronnie O'Sullivan claims the fourth of his five world titles at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre in 2012.

This is not a public relations exercise to boost O'Sullivan's profile. He does not need to achieve greater publicity. He could have opted for a reality television show if he wanted to forget about discussing snooker. You will get your chance to put your questions to him.

After winning the Masters in January, I commented that he ranks alongside Federer, Tendulkar and Messi as a true artist of his craft
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"What do people want to know about me?," he asks. "Who are your favourite sports figures, and what do you want to know about them?," I ask him. "Well, I like Federer, Messi..."

Federer or Messi never had the artist Damien Hirst, and Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood watching them practice.

“Ronnie (Wood) enjoys it wherever he goes,” O’Sullivan told me on his way to winning the Masters in January.

“He is just high on life that guy. He is in great form, and loves his snooker. There have been plenty of times he has got his white gloves out to referee for me and Jimmy (White).

"He was having a go tonight when Damien was getting the balls out for me during practice. He was saying: 'Where are your white gloves?'

"He's always got the white gloves out when he is doing his referee bit.”

In snooker parlance, he has the world at his feet, but as a committed runner who embarks on several clicks a day, he is not a man for standing still.

He seems genuinely keen to find an appropriate forum to his views on the game that has gleaned him widespread fame, frames and riches.

You cannot cultivate a persona. His touch of bedevilment only benefits snooker.

The record books tell you that Hendry with his seven and Steve Davis' six continue to lead O'Sullivan's collection of five in the modern era of world champions, but he is surely the greatest.

And that comes from someone who watched his grandfather top up his pension by betting heavily on the winning machine that was Davis back in the 1980s.

To paraphrase a quote from the late learned darts commentator Sid Waddell on Phil Taylor: "Ronnie O'Sullivan's got the consistency of a planet..and he's in a snooker orbit!"

Like Gravity, O'Sullivan brings his own brand of special effects to enhance the game. He is a figure in his own snooker stratosphere.

The Ronnie O’Sullivan Show will be on British Eurosport 2 at 12.30pm on March 25, and repeated 10.30pm. Ronnie O'Sullivan will be speaking exclusively to uk.eurosport.yahoo.com before, during and after the 2014 World Snooker Championship that begins next month at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre.

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