St Leonards ace aiming to go right to the top

Rob Cross has set his sights on becoming the world number one as his stock rises rapidly in the darting world.

Sunday, 6th August 2017, 12:22 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 9:42 pm
Rob Cross makes his way to the stage during the BetVictor World Matchplay in Blackpool last week. Picture courtesy Lawrence Lustig, PDC

Cross, who lives in St Leonards, has made a big impact in his first season on the Professional Darts Corporation Pro Tour, beating many of the sport’s biggest names.

He told Observer Sport said: “Career-wise I want to be number one; that’s what I want to be. The Worlds (World Championship) is a great place, but if you can say you’re number one, you’ve played well over over a consistent period of time.”

Cross is now up to 40th on the PDC Order of Merit, which is made up of prize money won at PDC events in the last two years.

Prize money is lost on the two-year anniversary of a tournament, but as Cross is new to the circuit, he has nothing to come off so his ranking is only likely to keep on rising.

“By the end of this year I definitely want to be in the (top) 32 or pushing towards the top 16 really,” continued Cross, who said his aim at the start of the year was to make the top 64. “I want to go into the Worlds (World Championship, which will take place over the festive period) as a seed.

“You can climb the rankings very easily and there’s not a lot of pressure on me because I’m not dropping (prize-money after the two-year anniversary of a tournament). I would also like to win a European (Tour event) this year.”

He has already won two PDC titles, at Players Championship three and 12, the second of which he said was more special as it then looked like the first wasn’t a fluke.

Cross also impressed at the BetVictor World Matchplay - considered the sport’s second biggest tournament - in Blackpool last week.

He beat 14th-ranked Ian White before narrowly losing to two-time world champion and world number five Adrian Lewis, despite recording a superb 104 average in front of the Sky Sports television cameras.

“Building up to it so many people asked ‘what are you going to be like over the extra distance’? (matches were played over a longer format than most Pro Tour events),” continued Cross. “There’s only so many times you can say ‘yeah, alright’ so it was just wait and see. The way I was practising I never quite got to that even though I still averaged 104.

“I was quite edgy going in on the first night when I played Ian White, I didn’t feel relaxed. But before the match against Adrian I felt fine and I knew I was going to play well. And when someone’s playing well against you, you’ve got no choice but to play well.

“I thought it was a good game. Fair enough I never got the result, but I didn’t feel out of place. I lack in experience, but that will come. I’m learning all the time and I’m not a million miles away from them (the top players).

“It was a unique experience to go there. It’s most people’s favourite place and I absolutely loved it. It was fantastic.”

Cross will head to Barnsley this weekend for Players Championship 17 and 18 with confidence high and expectation levels rising.

“At the start of the year I had good weekends and people said ‘he could be good’,” he added. “Now people actually expect you to come out and win - and that changes the whole ball game again.

“I try to stay away from that, keep my feet on the floor, stay the same and do what I would’ve done a year ago (when he was on his way to topping the PDC Unicorn Challenge Tour order of merit). My family and sponsors have given me some great backing.”

Cross, who has now beaten most of the sport’s top players apart from Gary Anderson and Phil Taylor, does much of his practice at home and also uses Sidley Working Men’s Club. In fact, he even took part in a competition there on Saturday.

After this weekend, he will have a few weeks away from competition before embarking on a busy September, which includes events in Holland, Germany and Ireland.