BILLY JOE CASTLE lamented yet another slow start to his ranking event season, after crashing out of the English Open at the first hurdle.

The Marchwood potter didn’t pick up a cue for over three months in lockdown between March and June and went down 4-0 against Ricky Walden in Milton Keynes.

Castle, the current world number 88, has now lost both his first-round matches at the start of the season.

The 28-year-old is a notoriously slow starter and says an inability to take to the baize for three months didn’t do him any favours.

“I couldn’t play snooker in lockdown as unfortunately my table’s in the club (in Reading),” he said.

“I didn’t play from the Gibraltar Open to about the end of June. It was driving me mad - when I went back it was like I was starting all over again, but it’s the same for everyone unless you’ve got a table at home but even then, you haven’t got a lot to practice for.

“Weirdly enough I managed to spend a lot of time with the family and kids and did things with them.

“In a way it was good for me to spend time with my family and you appreciate the little things in life.

“I’m not sure what it is but I always start off slow and it’s been the same every year.

“It seems to be a carbon copy with me - I start off the season slow and then pick up towards the end.

"Hopefully I can get a few wins under my belt soon and just pick up from there.

“It was just a bad day at the office - I started off a bit slow and Ricky started off quick and in these best of sevens you’ve got to come out of the traps quick. Ricky deserved his win.”

Walden came out of the blocks rapidly under the Marshall Arena lights as a first-frame break of 102 sent out a statement of intent.

And further efforts of 61 and 71 helped floor the frustrated Castle at the behind-closed-doors venue.

Castle remained in upbeat spirits, however, and reckons it’s only a matter of time before he translates his form on the practice table into match situations.

“I feel good - I’m practicing really well and hopefully I’ll just bring on the match game soon,” he added.

“Hopefully I can get off to a good run and win - it’s the German next for me so hopefully I can push on from there and do as best as I can on the one-year list.”

Watch the snooker English Open live on Eurosport, Eurosport app and Quest.