Mumbai: The poster boy of Indian cue sports Pankaj Advani hates comparisons of billiards and snooker with other sports, especially cricket. Ask him whether Cue Slam will play the same role as Twenty20 format especially Indian Premier League did to cricket, up comes the prompt reply from an otherwise reserved billiards wizard: “Please don’t compare sports.”
Advani has enjoyed phenomenal success on the Green Baize that includes 16 world titles in billiards (12) and snooker (4). He has won the Padma Shri and Arjuna Award but hasn’t got the attention like a cricketer would.
But he along with other top cueists is hopeful that Cue Slam, in which he led Chennai Strikers to the top of the league before losing in the semi-finals, will bring in more fans and change the perception of the sport in a positive way.
“Traditional formats exist in every sport. This format (Cue Slam) is very short. T20 looks like a Test match before it. Just blink your eye and you will miss key action. Many frames are decided through pink and black balls and players like me are rushing, there are narrow misses which thrills the audience,” he observed.
The 32-year-old from Bengaluru also likes to take his time to play shots and feels the format can be tweaked a bit after proper feedback. “A player’s stature doesn’t matter in this format. Any one can win on his day. Perhaps the format can be tweaked a bit to make it bit longer.”
He also admitted that time wasting tactics can be looked into. “You tend to protect the lead by using a time out. The format is exciting and can be made more attacking and dramatic depending on how people want to see it,” he said.
Delhi Dons Icon player Kelly Fisher, who is a pool specialist but still sizzled in snooker by leading her team into final, hoped Cue Slam will help popularise pool in India. “This is a new format for most of the snooker players here, however, for pool players we had timed competitions and experienced tactical things. Pool is not as popular as snooker here. Cue Slam will help Pool all around, new players will come through and improve the standard of the game,” said the English woman who outclassed experienced Darren Morgan twice in the tournament in Icon Singles Snooker.
Gujarat Kings icon player Andrew Pagett outclassed Advani twice to lead his team to the title win in front of home fans.