His arms were raised to the sky like Dennis Lillee or Jeff Thomson celebrating another Test victim at the MCG.
Neil Robertson’s splendid 147 at the Crucible Theatre on Monday night was finished off with all the flair and flow of the revered Australian fast bowlers at their ferocious best.
Oddly enough, coming from an Aussie bloke with a record at the old joint as debatable as vegemite, the Melburnian's theatrical reaction at the theatre of dreams was also telling despite the deflating nature of a head-scratching 13-12 defeat to 'Jackpot' Jack Lisowski at the last-16 stage.
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Laurence Olivier would have toiled to capture such raw emotion in The Entertainer.
From the Old Vic to the old green baize, 147s occur in snooker these days with more regularity than a Crucible comfort break – this was the 12th since Sheffield first hosted the World Championship in 1977 – with Noppon Saengkham, Kyren Wilson, Stuart Bingham and Ronnie O'Sullivan all having a bash at their own version in the second round.
The evolution of the 147 break at the Crucible has come a long way since Cliff 'The Grinder' Thorburn methodically compiled the historic first in 1983 while his opponent Terry Griffiths heartily sucked the life out of a snout in a red chair.
Cliff immediately reached for his complimentary cigs to calm the nerves after dropping to his knees in sinking the final black. The characters have changed over the years, but the scenes of glorious jubilation remain as animated.

'Fantastic!' - Watch Robertson’s 147 in full

Despite being a totem of rising standards, they remain truly black magic moments in the furnace of the sport’s ultimate event.
“To make the 147 was unbelievable and tops the season off because that is on everyone’s bucket list, to make a maximum at the Crucible,” said Robertson, who also compiled 131, 117, 79, 76, 69, 62, 60, 60, 55 and 54 in a barrage of bewitching breaks.
Yet the man dubbed 'The Thunder from Down Under' will watch the rest of the event thunderstruck from his living room after sampling his own slice of kitchen sink drama in Sheffield in unearthing yet another weird and wonderful way to lose.
Throwing the kitchen sink at opponents in snooker these days is far from a guarantee of triumph.
"Once I split the reds I knew I had a chance. The tension was building, so to clear the colours without much stress, then get the cheer from the crowd, it was absolutely fantastic," he said.
As a kid, you just want to have those kind of moments.
Robertson has been snooker’s form player of the season – lifting the Masters, English Open, Players Championship and Tour Championship – but the 2010 winner seems to have been stuck longer on one world title than John Farnham spent at number one with You’re The Voice Down Under.
"Look, if I only win it once, you look at my record, how could I possibly complain about my career when you look at so many players struggling just to stay on the tour," he said.
"A bit like the situation where Pep Guardiola keeps getting asked how come he’s not won the Champions League with (Manchester) City.
I’ve had an unbelievable career, achieved everything that I never could have dreamed of 100 times over, so it’s not an issue for me coming here.
The pre-tournament favourite, he has assumed that dubious moniker several times, gives off the vibe that competing at the cramped Crucible is akin to attempting to pot balls with half a cue on a six-foot table inside a prison cell.
In a sort of black ball comedy without a hint of a satire, he prepared for the two-table challenge with barstools restricting his stance in practice.
Yet he is capable of the big sell in reaching cue sports nirvana without giving any of the shots much of a second glance. His maximum in the 19th frame – the fifth of his gilded 19-year professional career – was an item of sporting beauty that was constructed with minimal fuss and technical grace minus the desired personal space.

‘He’ll be feeling a million dollars’ – McManus and White on Robertson’s ‘brilliant’ 147

Whatever Robertson’s beef is with the Crucible, it has little to do with the restrictive nature of the conditions. Mind over matter is a different business.
The 23-time ranking event winner did not have to contend with the brain drain and tactical contortions of Mark Selby or John Higgins this time, but lost to an attacking Jack-in-the-box buoyed by some dazzling shot-making.
Robertson’s remarkable moment of razzle dazzle was made all the more confusing when you consider he finally lost the match as ‘Jackpot’ bet the house on black and cleared up without any trace of trepidation.
Having recovered from 9-7 behind to lead 12-11 and rolled in 55, the world no. 3 Robertson lost position and probably his quarter-final spot as a safety shot enabled the prodigious long potter from Cheltenham to gallop past him like Arkle at the Gold Cup with a rousing 72 run.
A telling snooker in the deciding frame prompted the winning thrust from ‘Jackpot’ in the death throes of a memorable dust-up that forces Robertson to again depart the scene long before the business end of the tournament.

'Match of his life'

Robertson astonishingly last reached the one-table set-up in 2014, but will content himself with £40,000 and a half of £15,000 for the 176th 147 of all time (2006 world champion Graeme Dott made the 175th in qualifying) if his 147 makes it through the next week unchallenged.
Which it well might not.
“It was an incredible match played in the right way, we both kept going for our shots and I have nothing but praise for Jack, he handled himself well,” Robertson told reporters.
People have played far worse than I did and got through the last 16. Jack just played the absolute match of his life.
In such moments, you must also question the self-harming nature of the apparent ongoing campaign to remove the World Championship from the Crucible.
Despite recovering its self-respect due to Barry Hearn’s considerable business acumen as World Snooker chairman between 2010 and 2021 – overseeing a remarkable revival in playing opportunities for its leading men and women, with prize money increasing from £3.5m to over £16m – the narrative back then remains very much in vogue this weather: chiefly focused around the size of the 980-seat Crucible and its suitability to stage the £2.395m marquee event.
It is a hoary old tale that seems to hark back to the days of the Tudors every time snooker returns to Tudor Square in Sheffield for the game’s richest gala.
Hearn has suggested Sheffield City Council might have to build a bigger and better Crucible to retain the event after the current agreement expires in 2027.
Such hyperbole all sounds very daring and dramatic, but is largely nonsense. More so during the reverberations of a global pandemic.
Faced with a cost-of-living crisis, the money going funny and rocketing energy bills beyond keeping the Crucible light bulbs switched on, erecting a multi-purpose venue for a snooker tournament on the public purse sounds as silly as Hossein Vafaei decrying O’Sullivan as "not good for the game".
Vafaei suggesting Rocket Ronnie has failed to spread the green baize gospel is akin to claiming Claude Monet could never really capture the French countryside.
LIke Robertson, O'Sullivan is a 147th wonder of the world.
“It's the coolest thing I’ve ever seen and I've seen a few at the Crucible,” Alan McManus – the retired 1994 Masters champion – told O’Sullivan about his epic maximum recorded in five minutes and 20 minutes in 1997 before being officially rounded down by 12 seconds as the fastest of all time in the Guinness Book of Records.

'It was mental!' - O'Sullivan talks through his record-breaking 147 at Crucible in 1997

Like O’Sullivan over the past 30 years, the World Championship has only returned to the Crucible because of the history, tradition, intimacy and prestige attached to it in its televised form as the sport's most wonderful time of the year.
It has traditionally been comfortable and cheap to broadcast from Sheffield since 1977 and the venue is rent-free over 17 days for the sport's organisers to maximise profits from ticket sales.
It is a deal that works well for everybody involved, including the 32 players who compete for sporting immortality, fame and handsome financial pickings for their exploits.
For professionals such as Eurosport analyst Joe Johnson – the fearless Bradford potter who famously defeated Steve Davis at the peak of his powers in the 1986 world final – it can transport unheralded blokes into a land of make believe overnight.
"These are very, very special moments," said Johnson in witnessing the Robertson maximum. "It is going to live forever."
Why tamper with such delightful chapters in the sport's grand opus with this 147 the latest, lasting but far from final immortal entry?

'Amazing experience'

The ballyhoo of the World Championship heading off to an imaginary custom-built arena really needs to be put to bed. Prior to his 147, Robertson had even discussed performing at two venues in future.
"My idea is to make it kind of like Wimbledon, where you have Centre Court and Court One, so you give everyone who qualifies the one-table experience," he said after his 10-5 win over Ashley Hugill in the opening round.
“I think if you had two Crucible venues that are equal, it would be an amazing experience for everyone to end their season – Sheffield is well equipped to deal with that."
This is not golf or tennis. Snooker unfortunately does not command the luxurious investment or blue-chip sponsorship of St Andrews or Wimbledon, which is part of the bigger picture, but its association with the Crucible has been a marvellous staging post for the ancient game that should not be uprooted on mood music.
Indoors can be anywhere. Either stick with nostalgia and a smaller crowd or carry the tournament away from Sheffield to a roomier venue.
It should not be forgotten that this never worked when the ghostly Wembley Arena in London hosted the Masters between 2007 and 2011 after the Wembley Conference Centre was demolished in 2006 before moving to the much-lauded Alexandra Palace in 2012.

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Much of the debate used to castigate the Crucible is due to the raucous scenes at the Ally Pally in January, but bigger is not necessarily better. It is only different.
Would Robertson really swap his Crucible 147 for one elsewhere? Judging by his marvellous, adrenaline-fuelled reaction, this means as much to him as donning a second or third world crown, happenings which are still far from beyond his ability at the age of 40.
There is more than one route to solve the Crucible Rubik's Cube. The key test in cue sports is made for grinders and speed merchants, dreamers and realists.
It is the ultimate demand of technique and concentration with no other fixtures across the season played out over three days rather than three hours.
Time and game management is part of the conundrum with all four semi-finalists needing to win 35 frames to lift the trophy. Can you overcome yourself as much as the balls?
The cosy yet confined nature of the Crucible creates the tortuous test.

‘Howzat!’ - Robertson fields ball after red flies off the table from Lisowski shot

A setting that contains 3,000 spectators or more is pushing the limit on how far diehards can see a snooker table from the back row without a telescope. Or Dennis Taylor’s hubble telescope specs from back in 1985.
Building a new Crucible for snooker does not make any sense from a financial or practical viewpoint. Nor is it necessary when the front of house looks absolutely pristine for a made-for-television sport as we witnessed in Robertson's push for paradise.
Those maximum memories are forever captured for millions to cherish worldwide, fervent admirers who will never see Sheffield in their lifetime.
When such sporting talents work their magic at the table, it reminds us why snooker should never leave its dear green place, a unique sporting arena where time stops, but history rolls inexorably on.
Cutting snooker from the Crucible Theatre would be a grotesque final act of self-harm beyond theatrical farce.

The Crucible 147 club

  • 1983 Cliff Thorburn
  • 1992 Jimmy White
  • 1995 Stephen Hendry
  • 1997 Ronnie O’Sullivan
  • 2003 Ronnie O’Sullivan
  • 2005 Mark Williams
  • 2008 Ronnie O’Sullivan
  • 2008 Ali Carter
  • 2009 Stephen Hendry
  • 2012 Stephen Hendry
  • 2020 John Higgins
  • 2022 Neil Robertson
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