White fails to find the secret

 

JOHN PARROTT became the first player through to the quarter finals of the Benson and Hedges Masters after taking advantage of Jimmy White's continued inability to strike form.

Without performing anywhere near his best, Parrott disappointed the majority of the 1,700 strong crowd at Wembley Conference Centre yesterday by beating White 6-5.

It was another disastrous result for White, who has failed to win a single contest this season and whose 12 match sequence of consecutive defeats stretches back to the World Championship first round 10 months ago.

"I'm gutted, but at the same time I made things hard work when I had chances," admitted White, who will find himself stationed at a career low 41st in the updated provisional world rankings when they are released later this week.

"It's match practice I need right now, but I've wasted the opportunity to get some in. I was struggling for most of the afternoon and it was a poor John Parrott I was up against."

When White established a 3-0 lead - despite managing a top break of only 32 - his most barren spell in 17 years on the professional circuit looked likely to end.

But Parrott, who later complained of finding it difficult in getting "mentally up" after arriving at the £500,000 invitation event less than fresh from a draining run to the last four of the Regal Welsh Open, then played his most productive snooker of the contest.

The 32 year old Liverpudlian, in contrast to White enjoying a consistent 1996-97 campaign, easily accounted for the following three frames with breaks of 84, 56 and 54 to draw level at 3-3.

The next two frames were shared before White finally showed the kind of flair which has carried him to six world finals and nine ranking event triumphs.

Leading 25-0 in the ninth frame Parrott jawed a straight forward pink. White pounced with an 81 clearance but, with a much needed victory so close, he could not apply the finishing touches.

White looked poised to pull the match out of the fire in the deciding frame, but, trailing only 46-23 and with the balls ideally placed, he missed a simple red. It was to prove his last shot of the day.

Parrott, who now awaits the winner of today's second round encounter between British Open champion Nigel Bond and Thailand's James Wattana, was relieved to have fallen over the line.

Earlier, Brian Morgan recaptured his early season form to cause a considerable upset in the opening match of the tournament.

Morgan, a wild card entry after winning the sponsor's satellite event three months ago, safely booked a last 16 meeting with world champion Stephen Hendry tomorrow by beating Malta's Tony Drago 5-2.

Morgan, involved in a series of qualifying round engagements at Blackpool last month, said: "I've had a lot of match play recently and to me that's the key to playing well. I was confident of doing myself justice from the start."