I can still get better, says new world champ

Rob Cross believes he can still play better and has vowed to work harder after winning the William Hill World Darts Championship.

Thursday, 4th January 2018, 2:44 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 12:13 am
Rob Cross clutches the William Hill World Darts Championship trophy on stage at Alexandra Palace. Picture courtesy Lawrence Lustig/PDC

The St Leonards star claimed the sport’s biggest prize by defeating the great Phil Taylor in the New Year’s Day final, completing a fairytale rise from working as an electrician only last year.

The 27-year-old’s remarkable 107.67 average was the third highest ever recorded in a World Championship final. He landed 11 maximum 180s and hit three outshots of 140 or more in a relentless display of heavy scoring and razor-sharp finishing.

Speaking to Observer Sport yesterday afternoon (Tuesday), Cross said: “I wouldn’t say it will be my best performance, I know I’ve got a bit more there. But to produce it when you really need it, there’s no better feeling than that.”

While many may not have expected Cross to win the title at his first attempt, his form going into the event had been very good having reached the quarter-finals or better in the previous four televised tournaments.

“For probably nearly three months I’ve been playing really well,” he continued. “My TV averages have nearly all been over 100 and my performances are getting more solid.

“But I wouldn’t say I’ve been at my best. Yesterday I was pushing up a bit more and that’s an improvement to what I’ve done on the stage before. It’s coming.

“I would like to think in the last two or three months I’ve maintained a level of consistency and kept making players work. I’ve felt more comfortable on the stage in the last two or three months so you can understand why I’ve started to play a bit better.”

Cross has enjoyed the most spectacular debut year in the sport’s history since turning professional at the start of 2017.

The World Championship was his fifth title of the season, in addition to reaching the European Championship final, and amazingly he has risen to third on the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) order of merit.

“Honestly I wouldn’t have said it was impossible because I believe everything is possible,” he went on. “If everyone had that attitude, people would be having a go at their dreams like I did.

“If anyone out there has got ability and thinks they can do it, I would recommend they try their hardest because you never know.

“At the same time I would’ve bitten your hand off for that. You would’ve said it was unlikely because no-one’s ever climbed that high before, no-one’s ever come close to that.

“To win any major is special - it wouldn’t have mattered if it was the (World) Matchplay or any of the others - but because it was the Worlds it made it so much better.”

Sky Sports pundit and commentator Wayne Mardle backed Cross to become a multiple world champion when speaking on television after the final and Voltage, as he is nicknamed, will certainly not be resting on his laurels.

“The plan for next year is work harder than I did this year,” he added. “I think I’m going to have to let this one settle in and have a few days with the family, spend a bit of time with them because next year’s going to be busy, but I’ll go back on the practice board tomorrow.”

Cross often practises at Sidley Working Men’s Club and although his top priority a day after winning the title was to spend some time with his family, he expects to head along to the club by the end of the week.