By Nick Harris
20 September 2010
The date of John Higgins’ return to competitive snooker will be dictated to some extent by the health of his father, John Snr, who is suffering from cancer and whose condition will occupy the Higgins family above all else for the immediate future.
In a bitter irony in the most traumatic period of Higgins’ professional life, the tribunal ruling 12 days ago that cleared him of any involvement in match-fixing coincided with Higgins Snr receiving news from his doctors that his condition had progressed beyond effective treatment.
Higgins, the world No1, is theoretically free to resume his career – after a six-month ban relating to discussing betting and failing to report an approach – on 1 November. And he might yet still play at Euro Players Tour championship events in Germany or the Czech Republic in November ahead of the UK Championship in December.
But with Higgins Snr having now been released from hospital to be with his family, Higgins is unlikely to be able to commit to any events in the immediate future with any certainty that he will be ready and able to play.
In an interview with the BBC over the weekend, when Higgins talked with emotion about the effect on his family of the accusations against him, he revealed he had not picked up a cue since May.
Higgins has made it clear that he wants to get back to action as soon as possible, but in a close-knit family that has already endured a torrid few months as a result of Higgins being caught up in a fixing sting, the condition of Higgins Snr will take priority for now.