Neil Robertson, the Melbourne machine, stormed to a stonking 13-8 victory in the quarter-finals of the World Cup snooker championships at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre, propelling him towards a semi-final against Shaun Murphy, a porky type whose soft, pinkish folds hide a relentless killer attitude with an aggressive game, writes Guy Rundle, trying to sound like a real sports reporter.

The blonde hulking antipodean brooked little resistance from a lacklustre Stephen Maguire, who fell like a sick pony before the skeg-headed striker’s pummelling long pots and pounding pounders which pounded the – jeez how do they keep this up.

OK, the gist is that Robertson’s match was one of the clearer victories in the last two rounds, with the upset of the series so far being Ronnie O’Sullivan’s defeat at the hands of Mark Allen, in a 13-11 slugathon that saw neither player get more than a frame ahead during the last dozen. As always Sullivan was at a disadvantage, in that any less than perfect shot filled him with such visible self-loathing that his capacity to get back in the game was crippled.

Allen by contrast had a cool self-assuredness that couldn’t be shaken by Sullivan’s rep and was expressive of that deepest of northern Irish passions, sheer relief at having a job.

If Robertson comes up against in the final he’ll have his work cut out, like a cut-out thing that is cut out. His dopey sons-of-beaches persona almost let Maguire back in the match, missing a straightforward pink in the final clean up. The gormless “oh no” expression said it all — he was fixing to lose the next five frames. Fortunately MacGuire couldn’t see the deal and Robertson finished him off. Wow this sounds kind of icky — are you sure this is right?

Anyway my hope is that the final will be a Robertson-John Higgins play off. Higgins is the anti-Robertson, anti-O’Sullivan, a man whose appearance is difficult to recall, even when you’re looking at him. Short, flabby, pasty-faced, with dry lifeless hair, he has an unflamboyant game lacking in any speciality. What he does have is persistence, an evenness of mood.

Though he wears a look of perpetual shock, nothing fazes Higgins. He comes back from four, six frames down seemingly unaffected by every player’s enemy, the deep temptation to play at less than your best, a forestalling of a genuine and unrestrained sense of failure that total loss would bring.

The final frame of his 13-12 victory against Mark Selby was a case in point — re-racked twice after bogging down in a defensive mess, Selby cracked in the third go, took a chance on a sliced red (I think — I didn’t take notes, I’m not a sports reporter, and I’m in Amsterdam), Higgins got back in and didn’t leave again.

It’s games like that one which have snooker authorities tearing their hair out at the game’s falling popularity. BBC execs would have broken Mark Allen’s thumbs if they had thought there was a real prospect of him beating Rocket Ronnie – since ratings halve as soon as he’s out of the match. TV snooker’s rise to prominence came with colour TV in the UK, when there were three channels. To a degree it was like a quasi-interactive game – the viewer had time to work out what shot they’d play and then marvel at whatever pyrotechnics the player managed. Or there was the news, or a repeat of the Sweeney.

Now, with a cable subscription you can get anything from world cup soccer to j’ai alai to Bulgarian donkey fondling at the flick of a switch, and the novelty of colour has worn off.

In response to this — and at the urging of Ronnie O’Sullivan — the authorities have devised a la Twenty20 cricket, a quick game with only six reds, which they did some exhibitions of a few days ago. God it was awful. Just wrong, dull, lacking the complexity and narrative of the real game.

Like all attempts to supercharge snooker — adding two colours in the 50s, time limits on shots etc — it ignores the difference between a game and a sport, games having a shape and a wholeness that sports — due to their faster pace — do not, except in retrospect. If you don’t like slow games of snooker, you don’t like snooker, full stop. It is the ceaseless, observable variety, positional trench warfare one frame, a maximum break the next that makes the game. The authorities may simply have t resign themselves to the fact that it, like so much else, is going east (it’s phenomenally popular in China).

Mind you, the novelty of colour hasn’t worn off for all — Mark Allen for example is the first colour-blind championship player (he occasionally has to ask the ref to distinguish the red from the brown, a problem that — no cant do that joke). That seems absurd until you realise that it may be an advantage — Allen sees only objects, masses and trajectories, no pretty pictures. He’s undistracted, roboplayer.

Nevertheless, if Neil Robertson loses to a colour-blind Ulster paddy, more than a dakking will be required — nothing less than a full turkey walk with the cue extension up the clacker will suffice. Now there’s your ratings.

Stonking powerful power jabs. Stonkingly. Over and out.