STEVE DAVIS believes a Judd Trump victory over Ronnie O'Sullivan in their World Championship semi-final showdown could be exactly what snooker needs.
With O'Sullivan threatening to retire again, revealing on Wednesday night that he only returned from a near year-long break because he needed money to pay school fees, six-time world champion Davis suggested the sport's most naturally talented player may be exhibiting a lack of respect.
Time will tell whether 37-year-old O'Sullivan can walk away for good, and if he does then sessions such as the opening stanza of his clash with young showman Trump are to be savoured.
The four-time champion led 4-1, before Trump, the obvious heir to O'Sullivan as darling of the Crucible crowds, rattled off three frames in a row to haul himself level. They will resume today, for morning and evening sessions, at four frames each in the race to 17.
Davis, king of the game in the 1980s, was not particularly surprised to learn of O'Sullivan's pre-match remarks, nor particularly impressed.
He said: "We know full well that Ronnie O'Sullivan's interviews are a bit like the British weather: they're changeable. But there's a dilemma for the snooker fan. They love what comes off the end of his cue; they sometimes hate what comes out of his mouth because it is sometimes disrespectful to snooker.
"The question to ask for every snooker fan is: 'Is it better for Judd Trump to win this match rather than Ronnie O'Sullivan'. It's a tough question to ask. If he's saying he's not going to play on the table and that's true, what use is he to the future of snooker?"
Dennis Taylor, world champion in 1985, believes that rather than quitting for good, O'Sullivan should consider entering just the World Championship every year.
Taylor said: "He loves playing the game still as you can tell by the way he started against Judd.
"There'd be nothing wrong with winning the World Championship every year and playing in nothing else."
The match was being played not only with the backdrop of O'Sullivan stating this was his "swan song" World Championship, but with Trump saying he would try to "scare" his illustrious opponent. O'Sullivan responded by saying Trump feared him.
O'Sullivan fired in breaks of 65, 75 and 89 on the way to his early three-frame lead, but Trump fought back.
Responding to O'Sullivan's retirement threat, sceptical bookmakers made him an odds-on shot to play in next year's World Championship.