Wildcards Leaked?

As I was about to start writing an article on who might be considered for the wildcard places available on the main tour next season, I received a very interesting comment my Roll Call article which suggests that a decision may or may not have been taken already…

As a very observant wildhoney points out, the official 2009/10 rankings on the World Snooker website contain not just the 72 players that we knew had already qualified as of right for next season, but three additional names. These are David Gray, Ian Preece and Stephen Craigie, all of whom were on the main tour last season only to fall short of retaining their places as of right.

Does this mean that they have all been handed a reprieve and will receive an invitational place or is this some sort of error on World Snooker’s part? If it is an error then it appears to be a strange one, indeed why would these three players be left in there and not others?

EDIT: Another possible explanation as has been pointed out is that these three players have simply failed to resign their memberships yet which happened with Drew Henry last year.

If they are three of what I expect to eventually be four wildcards given that Glen Wilkinson is unlikely to accept the Oceania nomination, would they deserve it?

David Gray is of course the most high profile player of the three and as both a top 16 player and a ranking event winner in recent years, undoubtedly has the class to be a professional player. For whatever reason though he has not been able to perform at his best during the last few seasons and has paid the price as he slipped out of the top 64 following defeat in the China Open.

It is a similar story for Welshman Ian Preece who despite enjoying a highly successful junior career, has failed to translate that form on the professional circuit. Last season saw him reach the last 32 of the Welsh Open but otherwise he struggled and finished just below Gray in the rankings.

Stephen Craigie meanwhile is another player with a strong junior record, though last season despite a promising start, he struggled in the longer frame matches and wound up losing his tour place after a single season.

On the one hand they are three talented players, but it could be argued, particularly for Gray and Preece, that they have had their chance and that the invites should be given to some of the younger players who find it so hard to get into the 96 in the first place.  Or how about those in the PIOS like Chris Norbury who have narrowly missed out after eight events, or those who narrowly missed out on other nominations such as Anthon McGill and Mario Fernandez?

Hopefully we will receive some sort of clarification as to whether these players have indeed been awarded invitational spots soon and if not, who will be…