Angry Swail amazed at Crucible baize

Last updated at 15:25 19 April 2006

Snooker's authorities came under fire again when Joe Swail described the table as an "absolute joke" after losing to Matthew Stevens in the first round of the World Championship.

Swail was beaten 10-5 at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre in a match that featured many 'kicks' for both players and was convinced the table had prevented him from producing his best form.

It is another blow for the World Snooker Association, who have also been attacked recently for the current state of the game by Stevens, former champion Alex Higgins and leading manager Ian Doyle.

"There's only one thing that sums up the match and that's the table," said 36-year-old Swail, a two-time World Championship semi-finalist.

"I've been a professional for 15 years and it's about time they got it sorted out. There was a 'kick' every other shot and balls were rolling off into the middle pocket.

"The standard out there is high enough without having to worry about things like that and it's very frustrating.

"I'm absolutely disgusted with the table. When you're on a break and trying to win a frame the last thing you want to worry about is getting a 'kick'. It's an absolute joke.

"People have looked at it but they can't find the answer and it's getting worse. It's very difficult to take in.

"I complained during the match and everyone knows I'm not usually one to complain. But we are playing for a living and it makes a fool of you sometimes."

The Ulsterman stressed, however, that his outburst was not meant to detract from Stevens' performance, which included three century breaks. "I don't want to take anything away from Matthew," added the world number 39.

"He was under a lot of pressure to keep his place in the top 16 and got the result he needed."

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