Why darts ace Rob Cross hopes for an illuminating trip to Blackpool

Rob Cross is poised to return to the scene of his 2019 Betfred World Matchplay triumph for the first time.

Friday, 16th July 2021, 12:00 pm
Rob Cross is back at the scene of his 2019 World Matchplay triumph in the coming days / Picture: Getty
Rob Cross is back at the scene of his 2019 World Matchplay triumph in the coming days / Picture: Getty

Rob Cross is poised to return to the scene of his 2019 Betfred World Matchplay triumph for the first time.

The world darts number five from St Leonards will begin his quest for more glory at the Winter Gardens, Blackpool with a first-round tie against Ross Smith on Sunday.

Cross lifted the Phil Taylor Trophy on his last appearance in the Empress Ballroom two years ago after defeating Michael Smith in the final.

His defence of the trophy last year took place behind closed doors in Milton Keynes because of Covid restrictions and he suffered a first-round loss to Gabriel Clemens.

With the Sky Sports-televised tournament returning to its traditional home this year, Cross will hope to feed off happy memories of 2019.

And with the PDC order of merit based on prize money won over a two-year period, he will need an extended run to avoid dropping down the rankings.

His opening opponent, 43rd-ranked Smith, will be making his World Matchplay debut, but won his maiden PDC ranking title at Players Championship 19 last week.

That was one of four single-day events which collectively made up Super Series 5 at the Coventry Building Society Arena.

Cross won just four matches across the series, though he did then book his place in the year’s first three European Tour competitions by winning all five of his games at the Tour Card Holders Qualifiers last Friday.

The most notable of those victories was a 6-0 whitewash of Kim Huybrechts, in which Cross averaged a remarkable 109.98 and had three 12-dart legs.