Unibet Premier League: ‘Voltage’ is aiming to avoid shock in Leeds

Rob Cross with the World Darts Championship Trophy. PIC: Steve Welsh/PA Wire
Rob Cross with the World Darts Championship Trophy. PIC: Steve Welsh/PA Wire
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KNOWN AS ‘Voltage’, world champion Rob Cross aims to light up Leeds’ First Direct Arena tomorrow night.

Cross’ showdown with Michael ‘Bully Boy’ Smith will be the highlight of an explosive night of darting action when the Unibet Premier League makes its latest visit to West Yorkshire.

Michael van Gerwen. PIC: Steven Paston/PA Wire

Michael van Gerwen. PIC: Steven Paston/PA Wire

A former electrician who turned professional only a year ago, Cross stunned the darting world when he beat legend Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor to be crowned the world’s best two months ago.

Speaking exclusively to the Yorkshire Evening Post ahead of tomorrow’s Premier League fixtures, the Hastings-based marksman admitted his form suffered for the first few weeks of his reign, but insisted he is now fully focused and getting back to his best.

That sets up an intriguing showdown with Smith who has won all his four matches so far. Cross said: “He has been playing fantastic all year so it is going to be a tough game.

“Obviously I think if I play my best I will win and I am getting there.

Michael 'Bully Boy' Smith. PIC: Simon Cooper/PA Wire

Michael 'Bully Boy' Smith. PIC: Simon Cooper/PA Wire

“I am practicing well and playing well and I am really looking forward to it.”

Cross lost his opening two matches in the Premier League, describing his form then as “pretty useless”, but has since recorded back-to-back wins.

“I feel like I am getting better all the time,” he said.

“I don’t believe I have played my best in the Premier League so far. When I lost my first two I wasn’t in the best of form and my practice regime was non-existent, but since then I’ve got it down to a tee and I am playing really well.

“In the early stages of the year I wasn’t really looking forward to it, but now I am starting to look forward to it more and more because I’ve done the work.”

Around 8,000 fans are expected tomorrow. Cross – who said his “life has changed” since winning the world title – described the predicted crowd as “amazing”.

He said: “Look at darts and where it has gone, it is getting bigger all the time.

“It is going to be great [tomorrow]. It is part of the game now, how big the crowds are.

“When you do the walk-on it is brilliant. How can you not get up for it after that?

“It is amazing to be part of and it gets you going right from the start.

“What Barry Hearn [chairman of the Professional Darts Corporation] has done for the game is brilliant and it only seems to be getting bigger.”

Cross added: “The game is massive in Germany now, the German Masters this year is being played at Schalke football ground and they are expecting 20,000!

“There’s more money in the game now and more players coming through and more people interested.

“That has helped the game massively.”

Cross’ clash with Smith will be the final match tomorrow.

Other fixtures are : Michael van Gerwen v Simon Whitlock, Gerwyn Price v Raymond van Barneveld, Peter Wright v Mensur Suljovic and Gary Anderson v Daryl Gurney. Tickets are still available from www.eventim.co.uk or 0844 248 1585.