Pundits purr over world champion Cross

Rob Cross kisses the trophy after winning the 2018 William Hill World Darts Championship. Picture courtesy Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Rob Cross kisses the trophy after winning the 2018 William Hill World Darts Championship. Picture courtesy Lawrence Lustig/PDC

The Sky Sports pundits and commentators waxed lyrical over Rob Cross after his William Hill World Darts Championship triumph.

St Leonards-based Cross claimed the sport’s biggest prize on his debut in the competition after beating retiring 16-time champion Phil Taylor in the final on New Year’s Day.

Wayne Mardle, a five-time World Championship semi-finalist, said: “It was a brilliant performance by an absolutely wonderful player.

“Rob Cross was kind of unplayable in patches of that. He was just far better than Phil tonight and let’s not think that Phil played poorly, he didn’t, he just couldn’t match Rob Cross.

“What Rob Cross has done there is absolutely annihilate the greatest champion in darts ever. Yes he’s had that bit of luck (en route to the final), but it’s what you do with that luck.

“Tonight it was a 180 fest, he took out a 167, 153 and 140 to win it. It was a marvellous performance. We called him relentless all the way through that final and that’s what he was.

“That won’t be a one-time world champion I’m sure of that. He was just so cool, calm and collected. That wasn’t the actions of a man who doesn’t believe he can win it again.”

Former world number one Rod Harrington said: “Rob Cross had to get into Phil early and he did exactly that. He led all the way and Phil just couldn’t do anything about it.

“It’s quite ironic that we’re always looking for these raw talents that are coming through. We’ve lost one in Phil Taylor and Rob Cross has now kind of taken his place. Although we’ve lost that top player, we’ve gained one very quickly.

“Although we’ve seen him progress through and win tour events and get through to finals, we keep looking for that little chink in the armour and it’s never come.

“You keep thinking ‘surely he’s going to realise he’s in the final playing Phil Taylor in his last game, this is where we’re going to see a little bit of a downturn in his form’.

“Not only did he not have a downturn in his form, he actually stepped it up. That was his best performance of the whole championship.

“Taking it to Phil Taylor like he did with a 167 checkout to win that set, then a 150 out to win the next set, that is as good as anybody has ever done in a World Championship.”

Three-time world champion John Part said: “He loves playing darts. He’s worked at it hard and he just keeps going from one positive to the next, and there really was no stopping him. He’s just going to be harder to beat than ever on the tour in 2018.

“He was so business-like tonight and that’s what gave him the success throughout the tournament. All the tight matches he was in he came through because he kept a business head on him.”