World Championship 2020: Ronnie O'Sullivan remarks 'derogatory', says Ken Doherty

I could lose an arm and still be top 50 - Watch O'Sullivan's extraordinary interview
Betfred World Championship
Venue: Crucible Theatre, Sheffield Dates: 31 July-16 August
Coverage: Watch live on BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Four and Red Button, with uninterrupted coverage on BBC iPlayer, BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app. Full details and times.

Ronnie O'Sullivan's comments about the standard of snooker are "derogatory" to the game's younger players, says former world champion Ken Doherty.

Five-time winner O'Sullivan said he would have to "lose an arm and a leg to fall out of the top 50".

Doherty said: "Name another sportsman that would slag off the rest of the tour saying they are not that good.

"The standard is as high as ever. It may be a bit tongue-in-cheek but it is not nice. I think it is derogatory."

Speaking on BBC Two, Doherty pointed out that O'Sullivan had suffered a first-round defeat by amateur James Cahill in 2019.

And the 1997 Crucible winner also said that O'Sullivan's remarks may damage his relationship with other players.

"All of those players look up to Ronnie and he has a duty to them as an ambassador to the game," he said.

"He is a hero to all those players on the tour. I don't know whether they will still think he is a character or look up to him."

O'Sullivan, 44, faces Mark Williams, 45, in the quarter-finals, with both players having turned professional in 1992.

Six-time world champion Steve Davis suggested that O'Sullivan's extraordinary interview may have come as a result of not realising just how good he now is.

'The Rocket' thrashed Thepchaiya Un-Nooh in a record 108 minutes in the first round before overcoming Ding Junhui 13-10 in the last 16.

"Maybe he has got better - and he is better than he has ever been before," Davis said.

"At the turn of the century Ronnie O'Sullivan was a lot easier to beat. I beat him in the 1997 Masters from 8-4 behind.

"He was nowhere near the player he is now. Maybe the same is true of Mark Williams and John Higgins.

"Wait until these young players are in their mid-thirties before you make a judgement on them. The likes of Jack Lisowski and Zhao Xintong are talented but effectively raw compared to John Higgins and Ronnie O'Sullivan."

World number 87 Louis Heathcote told BBC Radio 5 Live: "I think the standard is good. It is not as bad as he is making out.

"I have idolised him since I was a child. It doesn't bother me too much because you know what he is like. But for other children who are up and coming through, it is not good for them to hear that."

Jamie Wilson, 16, who is set to take his place on the professional tour after coming through Q school, added: "I would love to play Ronnie, it would be a great experience.

"It would be even better to beat him because of all the stuff he says about amateurs. I used to follow Ronnie but I'm more of a Judd Trump fan now."