Stephen Hendry critical of Mark Allen and Mark Selby after painstaking second session

Mark Allen trails Mark Selby 7-6 in their best-of-33 semi-final
Mark Allen trails Mark Selby 7-6 in their best-of-33 semi-final

STEPHEN Hendry criticised Mark Selby and Mark Allen for casting a “dark cloud” over the Crucible after the second session of their World Championship semi-final was halted three frames earlier than scheduled in Sheffield.

Selby battled back from a three-frame deficit to establish a 7-6 overnight advantage against his opponent after a gruelling session in which safety play prevailed and both players appeared reluctant to take on important pots.

Seven-time world champion Hendry, who was on punditry duty for the BBC, said: “A dark cloud came over the match table at the Crucible.

“It was not pretty. It’s not the snooker that I want to watch, but I understand that snooker has to be played in different ways. It’s almost like they’re trying to be too precise, too exact in their matchplay. Just play the ball sometimes.”

In complete contrast, Hendry had earlier been purring over the style of China’s Si Jiahui, who hit his third century of the match and five more breaks of 50-plus as he extended his lead over Luca Brecel to 11-5 ahead of last night’s resumption.

Selby’s clash with Allen (above), who has been criticised for his slow play this season despite lifting three titles, was always going to be more attritional, and it took a superb pink from the latter to finally clinch a 45-minute opening frame.

That took Allen three frames clear at 6-3 but the Antrim man missed a golden chance to extend his lead, with out-of-sorts Selby dredging deep to claim the snooker he required before nervelessly clearing to reduce the deficit.

The four-time champion built on his reprieve as he recovered from 33 points down to take the 11th frame with a brilliant 95 clearance, and Allen paid for two more missed opportunities in the next as Selby duly levelled.

Another marathon frame went Selby’s way before the duo shook hands and went off to prepare ahead of their scheduled return this morning and what promises to be a long-drawn out concluding session this evening.