Premier League start is encouraging for Cross

Rob Cross has made an encouraging start to his 2021 Unibet Premier League campaign this week.

Rob Cross / Picture: Lawrence Lustig - PDC
Rob Cross / Picture: Lawrence Lustig - PDC

The world number five from St Leonards achieved a draw and a victory in his first two matches before suffering his first defeat in his third game. Cross drew 6-6 with Jose de Sousa on Monday night and won 7-3 against James Wade on Tuesday, but lost 7-3 to Michael van Gerwen on Wednesday.

The 2018 world champion clinched the final two legs to earn a share of the spoils against Grand Slam of Darts winner De Sousa on the opening night. Cross started strongly with a 12-dart hold in the opening leg, which was sealed by an 82 finish on the bullseye, but his Portuguese opponent took six of the next nine legs to lead 6-4.

The 30-year-old Cross hit 180s in each of the last two legs, however, and claimed the latter with an 88 finish on the bull to pick up a point. Cross then comfortably saw off world number four James Wade, who received a late call-up to the event after world champion Gerwyn Price tested positive for Covid-19.

Rob Cross in Premier League darts action / Picture: Lawrence Lustig - PDC

Voltage, as Cross is nicknamed, was in control throughout against a player who beat him en route to winning the UK Open last month. Cross quickly opened up a 3-0 lead, which he extended to 5-1 and 6-2 before wrapping up the win against a below-par Wade.

His unbeaten start came to an end, however, against world number two Van Gerwen, who averaged 107.58 in a superb display. Cross played his part in an entertaining contest, though, averaging nearly 98 and producing an 11-darter featuring five consecutive treble 20s in leg seven.

That left him firmly in touch at 4-3, but three-time world champion Van Gerwen reeled off the next three legs in 15, 15 and 12 darts, finishing the job with a 100 checkout.

Cross is tonight (Thursday) due to play Masters champion Jonny Clayton, who hit a nine-darter on Wednesday, before facing 2020 world champion Peter Wright on Friday night. The competition will then pause for a week before resuming with four consecutive nights of action from Monday April 19.

Usually a roadshow event played at large venues all over the UK, Ireland, Germany and the Netherlands, the Premier League is this year taking place behind closed doors at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.