World Snooker Championship 2019: John Higgins critical of 'scandalous' schedule

By Shamoon HafezBBC Sport at the Crucible Theatre
Betfred World Snooker Championship
Venue: Crucible Theatre, Sheffield Dates: 20 April-6 May
Coverage: Watch live on BBC One, BBC Two, Red Button, iPlayer, Connected TV, BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app.

John Higgins labelled the scheduling at the Crucible Theatre "scandalous" after reaching the World Championship final for the eighth time.

The Scot, a four-time winner, reached snooker's showpiece after a thrilling semi-final against David Gilbert.

The final in Sheffield takes place on Sunday and Monday, with the best-of-35 frame match covering four sessions.

"This final is incredible, you are running around on a hamster wheel," said Higgins, 43.

"I would not have said anything if I did not make it to the final but it really has to change - 2pm and 7pm for the four sessions is scandalous."

A World Snooker spokesperson told BBC Sport it would "take John's feedback on board and look at the format again", adding: "The format has worked for many years and we always try to ensure the players get a proper break in between sessions."

Higgins' opponent in the final, Judd Trump, was asked about the scheduling and joked: "It was OK for him when he won it four times, wasn't it?"

He added: "It is the same for both players and you can pick a fault with everything in the World Championship.

"It is the best tournament in the world and you get drama. Nothing needs to be changed."

The event takes place over 17 days, one day longer than an Olympic Games, and has been coined the "marathon of the mind" by snooker commentator Clive Everton.

Players have to win 36 frames to progress through their opening three matches, but a further 35 if they are to go all the way through the semi-finals and triumph in the final.

All the matches are broadcast live on either BBC TV or online, while Eurosport also cover the event.

Higgins, beaten in last two finals by Mark Selby and Mark Williams, said after his 17-16 win over Gilbert: "BBC are an unbelievable [host broadcaster] but the times we are going to have to play on Sunday [start] at 2pm. You probably will not hit a ball until 2:20pm because of the introductions and you have to try and fit eight frames in.

"You try playing them, rush back, change your shirt, grab a bit of pasta and you are back out again.

"It really has to be looked at. It has to start at 12pm and then the final session at 7pm, so you can play eight frames and then have a half an hour lie down to recharge the batteries.

"We understand it is a mental tournament, it is a long best-of-35, but give us a little chance so we can finish a bowl of pasta and then come back for the second session.

"You rush off, run up the road, cannot even have a meal and you have to rush back down to play again. It really has to be looked at."

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