Jimmy White aims to celebrate turning 50 with a Crucible return

Former snooker world number one Jimmy White
Former snooker world number one Jimmy White

Jimmy White is planning to celebrate his 50th birthday in style by booking a return to the Crucible.

The former world number two will warm up for his qualifying bid for the World Championship in Sheffield by competing in this week's China Open.

White has failed to qualify for the Crucible for the last five years.

But the 49-year-old insists he is feeling confident this year, saying: "I will be there. I'm playing too well not to be there."

White turns 50 on 2 May - day two of the World Championship quarter-finals - and his continuing popularity with the public would mean a return to the venue where he lost in six finals generating huge interest.

He will get the perfect test of his Crucible credentials if he secures a first-round clash against last year's World Championship runner-up Judd Trump in Beijing.

To face Trump, White must first beat Syrian Omar Alkojah in the wild-card round after the China Open starts on Monday.

The man nicknamed 'The Whirlwind' during his 1990s heyday is backing himself to make a big impression, insisting that he is currently in his best form for many years.

"I just still love playing and always have done so," said White. "I can still win any tournament.

"I'm giving it plenty of time on the practice table. If I can keep it going, who knows."

When he returns from the Far East, White will join April's World Championship qualifying event in round three.

He must win two matches, including a potential clash with Jamie Cope if he win his first match, to get through to the full event.

Even if he fails to qualify, the Tooting-born fans' favourite is guaranteed a return to the Crucible when he takes on Stephen Hendry in a Snooker Legends exhibition match on 13 April, in a re-run of the four finals they contested between 1990 and 1994.