SNOOKER stars Ding Junhui and John Higgins took Malvern by storm when winning their matches in the Premier League.

Chinese ace Ding defeated Mark Selby 4-2, while fourtime world champion Higgins overcame Stephen Lee by the same scoreline at a packed Malvern Theatres.

Ding compiled breaks of 96 and 79 and, despite a couple of lengthy frames, moved top of Group ‘A’ in the prestigious competition which features 10 of the game’s elite at venues across the country.

Higgins took a while to get going against Lee, moving 3-2 ahead courtesy of breaks of 72 and 57 before winning the last frame on the black.

It was the Scot’s second victory in Group ‘B’ and puts him in a strong position to reach the semi-finals of the Sky Sports-televised event next month.

Despite the matches not finishing until gone 11pm, there was a healthy crowd of all ages in the venue and Higgins hopes the presence of the game’s leading lights will go onto help inspire local players.

He said: “Malvern is not a big place so I’d imagine the crowd don’t really get to see a lot of top sporting events.

It’s great that they can come out and see four of the top players in the snooker world.

“I can always remember my first game when I went to see Jimmy White and Alex Higgins play in Glasgow when I was 10.

“I’m sure now some of these young kids will have enjoyed the night and remember it if they then go on to be a snooker player.”

World number one Selby, still seeking his first win in the event, said: “The Premier League takes the game to cities and towns that haven’t staged a snooker event in the past and, every time we play, it always seems to get full houses and full crowds. It’s great to promote snooker around the country.

“I remember coming to Malvern a few years ago for a qualifier at one of the local snooker clubs, there were a lot of entries in that and plenty of good, young players around.

“Bringing the Premier League to Malvern can’t do it any harm.”