By David Williams
Jamie Clarke has confessed he thought he would be going home after round one of the Betfred World Championship.
The world No. 89 from Llanelli – the lowest ranking player in the tournament in Sheffield – is instead preparing a second round match on Friday after beating world number four Mark Allen, 10-8.
Clarke produced a superb display on Tuesday night but admitted: “I haven’t looked at the draw. I just looked at Mark Allen and thought, I’m going home.
“So, it’s quite cool, this. It could be just a lucky match, I don’t know.
“Mark is so nice, and he said some lovely words there. I’m just overwhelmed, completely overwhelmed.
“But I felt at home out there. The first two frames I was completely in awe, even though I know Mark, I was in awe of Mark, in awe of the Crucible, everything, but I was loving it.’
Jamie Clarke 10-8 Mark Allen
Jamie Clarke stuns! The number 89 of the world beats number 4 Mark Allen 10-8, despite five centuries! What a performance during your debut!
Check the statistics below! pic.twitter.com/vH7j8j8pXP
— Snookerstats (@1Snooker4Stats7) August 5, 2020
Clarke made his highest career break during the match, 136, and while that was his only century, he impressed with his safety play and making important contributions at key times.
He now takes on another qualifier, Anthony McGill, in round two,
Allen made five centuries in the match, becoming only the second player to do so in a World Championship first round, but it was not enough to secure a win.
Clarke added: “I stood up to him, he kept making breaks and I kept holding on to his coat-tails. My mentality was to try to keep close and pip him at the end.
“Where has this come from?!”
A stunning long red from Jamie Clarke – who is refusing to back down on his Crucible debut 💪
— Eurosport UK (@Eurosport_UK) August 4, 2020
“[Not having a crowd] helped me more than Mark, he relishes that and enjoys the atmosphere. I said to my dad and mum that it is better without a crowd as it takes away the atmosphere, which I am not used to.”
In a day of first round shocks, former champion Shaun Murphy bemoaned “the worst two days of my snooker years” after crashing out of the Championship in a 10-4 defeat to Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham.
Saengkham exploited a series of uncharacteristic errors from Murphy as he built on a 6-3 overnight advantage to become only the third Thai player to win a match in Crucible history.