David Gilbert is desperate to avoid snooker’s ‘Big Four’ in Thursday’s Crucible first-round draw.
The former Betfred World Championship semi-finalist had to come through qualifying this year having fallen outside the game’s elite top 16.
But world No19 Gilbert, 40, duly came through on Wednesday at the English Institute of Sport with an emphatic 10-3 victory over veteran Anthony Hamilton.
And unlike some of the younger players who fancy the occasion of playing Ronnie O’Sullivan in a huge occasion on the big stage, Gilbert is happy to leave that dubious honour to others.
Gilbert rejoices in the unusual tour nickname of the ‘Angry Farmer’ – a result of previous temperament issues left behind, and previous work including driving tractors and planting potatoes for his father’s forestry business.
He said: “Listen, I hear all these players coming through qualifying saying they want to play Ronnie O’Sullivan or Judd Trump at the Crucible and all this malarkey.
“I want to avoid Ronnie, I want to avoid Judd, I want to avoid Mark Selby and I want to avoid Neil Robertson.
“They are the big four, one of them is likely pretty much to win it and if you can avoid them four then all good. Taking nothing away from the others, just being honest and saying it how it is.
“I have almost not played for four months for one reason and another, and with other things going on.
“So this has been a great tune-up for the World Championship, and I am really looking forward to going to the Crucible.
“I haven’t not played to this extent for several years, not since I really dedicated myself to the game. So it has been strange, but it has meant I have really enjoyed my recent practice.
“I have bought a snooker club with a couple of friends – Potters – in Swadlincote in Derbyshire, and I had a table put in there two weeks ago.
“I will wait for the text to come through about who I have got in the morning. I won’t be watching it, I have better things to do…brushing and ironing the club tables, for one!
“The club was an opportunity with two of my lifelong mates, it made it a cheaper punt between the three of us.
“I am getting older now, I have to think of something down the line to help support the family. Money is no good in the bank at the moment, as we all know.
“So while I actually have a bit of it, I thought I’d have a play with it.
“I put in 10 days of good practice against the Leicester boys – Mark Selby, Joe O’Connor and Ben Woollaston.
“As someone who has been lucky enough to be a seed for the last few years, the past place you want to be is here. It is horrible having to come here, I won’t lie to you.
“And when it comes to the first round, I know I can play. There will be a few debutants and younger players finding it quite daunting.
“But I have the knowledge I can play there, and feel I can give anyone a game if I get my scoring boots on.
“In some ways I would rather play next Tuesday or Wednesday, but we’ll find out on Thursday. Saturday can be a dreaded draw, let it get started and stay out of the way for a few days!
“I am delighted to be through, I have nothing but respect for Anthony, he is a proper player and it is a great result.
“The amount of times I made about 40 or 50, split the pack and landed on nothing was a bit frustrating, I could have had about six or seven centuries today.
“And frames that might have lasted six or eight minutes ended up taking about 30-40 minutes, but a lot of that was down to Anthony’s great safety play.
“I had to be patient because you don’t want t be spunking those frames away. You are not comfy until you actually have the 10 frames, even when I was 9-3 up.
“But I would like to say well done to World Snooker Tour for putting on such an excellent set-up here for these qualifiers.
“The last time I played was in Wolverhampton at some other qualifiers and it was an absolute shambles. If it was like that, two players behind a curtain…I don’t want to be involved in stuff like that and I am certainly not some big-time geezer. This felt much better, a great little arena.”