Later than expected we know the finalists of the Betfred World Snooker Championship and it’s set to be a Crucible classic.

3-time winner Mark Selby, versus the 2005 champ Shaun Murphy.

Shaun Murphy (above) produced a great Crucible comeback to reach the Betfred World Championship final. The Magician conjured up a sensational spell of snooker as he recovered from 10-4 down to inflict a painful 17-12 semi-final defeat on nearly-man Kyren Wilson.

And it’s the first time since Ken Doherty, the 1997 champion, that someone’s overhauled a six-frame deficit to reach the final. World No 6 Wilson has lost in two semi-finals and last year’s showcase final to Ronnie O’Sullivan in the past four years.

Murphy would join an elite list of multiple world champions if he pockets the £500,000 top prize tomorrow night. Only Stephen Hendry (seven), Ray Reardon, Steve Davis, Ronnie O’Sullivan (six), John Higgins (four), John Spencer, Mark Williams, Mark Selby (three) and Alex Higgins (two) have achieved the famous feat.

Murphy, who as we mentioned won the world title in 2005, is bidding to end a long wait between Crucible triumphs – like Mark Williams famously did when he beat Scot John Higgins in the 2018 final. And he’s desperate to make it third time lucky after losing in the 2009 and 2015 finals.

Mark Selby and Stuart Bingham made history for all the wrong reasons at the Betfred World Championship. For the first time ever a semi-final at the sport’s biggest event was HAULED OFF with three-time champion Selby 16-15 ahead of the 2015 winner.

The potting plodders lost the advantage of being the first semi-final and getting the night off as they were forced to wait for Shaun Murphy versus Kyren Wilson to finish first. Selby’s spirited comeback forced the players to be pulled off early due to overrunning.

Once play resumed yesterday afternoon, there were two re-racks in the 26th frame – the second after 31 minutes – before Selby (above) sunk a break of 125 to level at 13-13.

There were two further frames over half-an-hour each as Selby clawed himself 16-14 ahead after winning seven out of nine frames. But Bingham dug deep with a crucial clearance before the players sheepishly ran out of time with two potential frames left to play.

However when they finally returned, Selby once again dug deep and won the frame to win the semi 17-15 and book a place in his fifth final.

Now no one likes a clever clogs but I hope you took the advice pre-tournament and backed Shaun Murphy each-way. I thought the return of crowds would boost Shaun and as he admitted to me they are like the twelfth man.

(Editor’s note – MP’s far too modest – here’s what Mark said before a single ball had been potted in earnest, and when all were still dreaming of lifting this iconic prize) – ‘the knowledgeable Crucible audience might just inspire the Magician, and at 22/1 looks a decent each-way bet.’

Bring on the final – and we bet 1/2 Mark Selby, 13/8 Shaun Murphy.

Mark Pearson

Whenever you bet, Betfred