World Snooker Championship: Stuart Bingham says he is 'free-rolling' as Crucible qualifier


Venue: Crucible Theatre, Sheffield Dates: 17 April-3 May
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.

Stuart Bingham believes his game is in good enough shape to help him become the first qualifier to win the World Championship in 16 years.

The former champion had to come through qualifying for the first time since 2010 after slipping out of the top 16.

Alex Higgins, Terry Griffiths and Shaun Murphy, in 2005, are the only qualifiers to win the Crucible crown.

“It feels like I’m on a bit of a free-roll, I can just play, enjoy it and I’m scoring pretty heavily,” Bingham said.

“I know if I can score I’ve got every chance and I’ve always said from a young age that break-builders have always got a fighting chance,” the Englishman told BBC Radio 5 Live.

Bingham won the world title in 2015 but had not progressed beyond the second round since until this year – his last-16 victory over Jamie Jones booking a quarter-final with Ronnie O’Sullivan’s conqueror Anthony McGill.

The 44-year-old had to negotiate two qualifying matches to secure his place at the Crucible but won both comfortably before edging out Ding Junhui 10-9 in a first-round thriller.

He added: “I knew coming into my first game that I was sharp. It’s obviously not good to go there [the qualifiers] but it’s maybe put me in a good frame of mind.

“Normally, being a top-16 player, you’re not playing for two or three weeks coming up to the Worlds so it’s hard to get good match practice. Winning those two matches definitely helped my confidence.”

From TikTok talent to the jungle?

The TikTok video featuring Stuart Bingham and wife Michelle has had almost 150,000 views

Confidence is not something in short supply for Bingham if his efforts on social media are anything to go by.

During the tedium of last year’s lockdown, the Basildon-born potter became a surprise viral sensation by uploading several irreverent videos to sharing platform Tiktok, including one where he and wife Michelle switched outfits.

She donned his snooker waistcoat and sported a swimming cap to imitate his bald head, while Bingham glammed up in a dress and dark-haired wig.

He said: “I’ve seen people re-tweeting it and it’s actually bringing back good memories. It was fun at the time, a bit embarrassing now looking back but it’s good to have a bit of fun every now and again.”

The site is known for dancing videos but Bingham says that is not his scene and he fancies following Steve Davis and Jimmy White into the jungle more than emulating Dennis Taylor and the late Willie Thorne on Strictly.

“I don’t think I’ve actually done a dancing one yet, I’ve got two left feet so no chance of that,” he said of the BBC One show fronted by Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman.

“Something like I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, I wouldn’t mind that – I’ll eat anything so it wouldn’t bother me, eating all the grubs and things like that. All my friends and family say I’d be brilliant on there.”

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