Jamie Clarke downs five-century Mark Allen in classic Crucible upset
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Aug. 04, 2020
Jamie Clarke secured a monumental upset as he downed Mark Allen 10-8 in the first round of the World Snooker Championship on Tuesday night.
The world number 89 is the lowest-ranked player at the Crucible, but that didn’t stop him edging out the former Masters champion and current world number four in Sheffield.
This was no meltdown from the favourite, in fact, Allen made five centuries in the match and was in fine form for most of it, but Clarke, making his Crucible debut, refused to be blown away by the power-scoring of the Pistol.
The Northern Irishman became only the second player ever to make five centuries in a first round match at the Crucible, after Ronnie O’Sullivan did so in 2000, with the Rocket also losing that match to David Gray.
It was a thoroughly impressive all-round display from the young Welshman who produced his highest career break of 136 in the third frame. He didn’t make another century in the match, but he made his contributions at key times and always remained in touch with Allen.
His excellent judgement of safety shots and ability to drop the cue ball on the baulk cushion was akin to his mentor, and fellow Llanelli potter, Terry Griffiths. He played with a maturity few expected, often taking the safer option than a risky long pot, which paid dividends over the contest.
Things had looked ominous for Clarke at the start of the second session as Allen made a break of 130 to go 6-4 ahead, his fifth ton of the match.
Far from intimidating the Welsh Whirlwind, Clarke won the next four frames to take an 8-6 lead. He very nearly took the next, but for some poor luck when amongst the balls, but his momentum was not quelled for long as the 15th and 16th were shared and Clarke held a 9-7 lead.
Allen showed his class with a 76 break to stay alive, but that was as good as it got for the Antrim man, with Clarke getting the first good chance in the 18th, and making 48 to move ever closer to the finishing line.
A safety exchange ensued, but Allen managed to knock the black in when on a red which gave Clarke the final chance he needed, producing a trio of sublime pots to put the Pistol in the snookers-required stage.
Allen gave it a go, battling stubbornly, but couldn’t find them.
It is a remarkable story for a player that would have dropped off the tour if he had not qualified for the Crucible, and went from mid-July to mid-December without winning a single game this season, going nine matches and nine tournaments without victory.
The debutant was confident enough during the mid-session interval to tweet Jimmy White in the Eurosport studio after the Whirlwind allowed him to use the Welsh Whirlwind moniker.
Thereâs only one whirlwind!!!^^^^ — Jamie Clarke (@clarkej998) August 4, 2020
Clarke now takes on fellow qualifier Anthony McGill in the second round, which starts on Friday afternoon.
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