Selby looking for third title of 2008…

The ‘Jester from Leicester’ Mark Selby has been talking about this weekend’s Premier League play-offs on the latest installment of his excellent Eurosport blog…

To read what Mark has had to say, please click here to visit Eurosport or continue reading below:

I have been practising hard this week and getting ready for the Premier League finale which takes place this weekend in Norfolk.

I play Stephen Hendry in the semi-finals on Saturday, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Joe Perry face off in the other match, then the final takes place on Sunday.

For me, Stephen is probably the best player ever to play snooker so it is always a special occasion when I play him. He was one of the players who inspired me to play snooker in the first place.

We have played a couple of times in the past and I think the record is pretty even between us.

However, I beat him on my way to winning the Masters title last year and also enjoyed a 5-1 victory in the group stage of the Premier League. They were our last two meetings so that will give me a lot of confidence.

The Premier League has a different element to other events because there is a 25-second shot rule, but once you get used to it, it is not that big of a deal.

In my first match against Ding Junhui I was a little worried about it, but you soon realise that 25 seconds is longer than you imagine.

It does force you to play and make decisions quicker, but usually you just go with the first shot you visualise. It’s all about playing on instinct.

In the other semi-final most people will probably be tipping Ronnie for victory, but I would not be surprised if there was an upset.

Joe Perry has been one of the form players on tour over the last 12 months, especially since his run to the World Championship semi-final ast season. He has also beaten Ronnie in the Premier League already this year and will be confident of causing an upset.

Personally, I don’t really mind who wins that game – I’m just going to concentrate on my match and then I’ll worry about who I play in the final if I make it.

It has been my first season in the Premier League and I really feel that playing in those match-play conditions week-in, week-out gives players lucky enough to be involved a real edge.

However, I think it is brilliant that there are now qualifying procedures in place for people to get promoted into the league.

Before, players might have watched it on TV and said ‘I’d love to be involved in that’, but thinking at the same time that they could not get in. Now they have an avenue into it.

It may be away from the cameras, but it is still good match practice for those who are competing in the qualifying events.

I’ll spend the rest of this week practising. When I have a week off from competition I usually try and arrange a few games and also might travel a bit to play somebody.

I’ll be looking to get in about five or six hours of practice a day before the event.

Away from the Premier League it is worth mentioning the performance of Mark Joyce in reaching the final of the qualifiers for the Masters last week (before losing to Judd Trump).

I’ve watched Mark play a couple of times in the past, but like most people, I don’t know too much about him.

He was a year or two behind me in the juniors, so when I was leaving that level he was still coming up.

I’m not sure how active he is on the tour, but looking at the players he beat last week he clearly must have a lot of talent and maybe those results will give him the confidence to go on and make a name for himself.

Now to a couple of your questions.

Sbblakeway asked: “What did you learn to play first: snooker or pool?”

Well I actually learned to play pool first. I started playing pool when I was seven and didn’t start playing snooker until I was about 11. I got into pool because my father played a lot of English pool so that was my introduction into cue sports.

I find it much harder to move from pool to snooker than the other way around because the table is much bigger – although there are adjustments you need to make when playing pool too with the balls being much smaller.

Also, some players can play snooker and pool with the same cue, but that is something I’ve never been able to do. My pool cue is a lot thinner – with an 8mm tip as opposed to a 9.5mm tip I use when playing snooker.

Steveguppy14 asked: “I’m a fellow Leicester City fan and wondered how often you get to see the Foxes in action. And who is your biggest football hero?”

I go and see them whenever I can but obviously I’m usually very busy with the snooker so that means I only get to around three or four games a year. I’ve only been to see them once this season but they certainly looked a lot better than the times I saw them last year, although that might have had something to do with the lower league opposition they have been facing.

As for my football hero, well that has to be Gary Lineker because not only was he a great player, but he is also a Leicester boy like myself!