Raymond van Barneveld moved one step closer to securing a play-off place at the O2 Arena by beating both Gary Anderson and Adrian Lewis in Birmingham. Van Barneveld came from 4-0 down against the World Champion, winning 7 out of the last 8 legs to clinch victory, whilst also clinically defeating Lewis 7-2 in the evening’s finale. Nevertheless, Raymond’s win over Anderson was embroiled in controversy, after Anderson alleged that Barney encroached into the exclusion zone when retrieving his darts, with the Scot set to throw for a point.
However, replays clearly showed that van Barneveld did absolutely nothing wrong; he did not step into the exclusion zone and he simply returned to the oche in ordinary fashion. Wayne Mardle made an interesting point that I tend to agree with; Anderson had just miscounted, which left him just two darts at a double rather than three.
His frustration will have been compounded with the flurry of doubles he squandered to close out the game at an earlier juncture. You could see he was becoming increasingly irritated; Barney had barely retrieved his darts before Anderson was throwing and this lack of composure proved costly, as he missed darts at D20 and D10, before Barney cleaned up 44 in two darts. However, the focus unfortunately wasn’t on Raymond’s commendable fightback.
It was a bizarre incident. Both Anderson and van Barneveld are very amiable characters who very rarely get involved in spats, but the World Champion was certainly pointing the finger, leaving the 48-year old Dutchman somewhat bemused. In his interview after the victory, van Barneveld admitted he was slightly dumbstruck with the Scot’s reaction, but as the interview wore on, he became increasingly angry at the accusations being levelled at him. Raymond was seething when he spoke to Rod Studd, claiming: “How can you blame someone else when you’re missing doubles? I always play fair and if someone blames me for unfair play, we have a chat there, trust me.”
The full interview can be found below…..
I completely understand Raymond’s reaction. As a sportsman, there is nothing more hurtful than being labelled as a cheat or unsportsmanlike. The five-time World Champion has competed at the top level of world darts for over 25 years and he has a fine reputation for not only being a fantastic player, but a man of integrity and honesty.
I must also say that Gary Anderson is predominantly extremely gracious both in victory and defeat, so his behaviour was alarmingly out of character. However, this doesn’t excuse his actions. He let his frustration at his own abject finishing translate into anger directed at van Barneveld. Accusing a fellow professional of bad sportsmanship without any tangible proof or justification is extremely poor form and I hope that Gary apologises for his unprofessional conduct.
However, van Barneveld wasn’t perturbed by his spat with the Scot, as he comprehensively defeated Lewis 7-2 in the evening’s curtain raiser. He broke Lewis in the opening leg with a stunning 161 checkout and whilst he wasn’t at his electrifying best, he was professional and clinical and was always in firm control. Ironically, Lewis won his two legs in identical fashion, taking out 132 on the bull twice, but he couldn’t produce the scoring he showcased earlier in the evening, against Dave Chisnall.
Van Barneveld deserves immense credit for his remarkable revival. The job is not complete yet though; he still needs one victory from his final two matches, against Wade and Bunting respectively, to guarantee a play-off place. He has won five consecutive matches, against Taylor, van Gerwen, Chisnall, Anderson & Lewis. He was written off by many earlier in the competition, but he has shown his undebatable class in the last 6 weeks or so.
Chizzy gets Busy!
Another man deserving of major credit is Dave Chisnall. Chizzy sealed his play-off spot after coming from 3-1 down to beat Adrian Lewis 7-4 in the first match of the night. Lewis was in imperious form in the opening stages, averaging 111 as he stormed into an early lead. Despite this, the St Helen’s ace finished superbly to secure a comeback victory. He took out 97 in leg one, before taking out three ton plus finishes in consecutive legs (130, 116, 104) to go 4-3 up. Lewis struggled to recover and Chizzy closed out of the contest with minimum fuss, to guarantee his spot at the O2 Arena. He has performed fantastically well throughout the league phase and thoroughly deserves his top 4 spot. He is in pole position to finish 2nd and will genuinely believe he can claim his first PDC major in three weeks time.
Taylor In Trouble
In contrast, Phil Taylor is in serious danger of missing out on a play-off spot for the first time in Premier League history after losing 7-4 to an inspired Michael van Gerwen. The Power averaged 107.58, but could not contend with the Dutchman’s phenomenal mid-game scoring, as MvG posted a hugely impressive 113 average.
In the previous 10 years of competition, Taylor has never finished lower than 3rd, but he trails both van Barneveld and Anderson (who occupy 3rd and 4th spot respectively) by 3pts, with just two matches remaining. The 16-Time World Champion faces Anderson next week, knowing that defeat will spell the end of his Premier League campaign.
Wade & Bunting Share The Spoils
In the night’s other match, James Wade and Stephen Bunting shared the spoils in a topsy-turvy contest. Both Wade and Bunting were locked at the bottom of the table on 10pts, but neither were able to steal a march in Birmingham. Both men averaged in the 93-94 bracket but some excellent finishing from the Bullet helped him earn a point. He hit fine finishes of 81 and 101 to stay with the Machine, before hitting a classy 120 checkout to snatch a point; with Wade poised on D5 to secure the win. Raymond van Barneveld’s win over Adrian Lewis makes it mathematically impossible for either to finish in the top 4, so they’ll be playing for pride in the last two weeks. Both are tenacious characters and will no doubt be determined to end their campaign in positive fashion.
Next week, van Barneveld will hope to seal his spot at the O2 as he faces James Wade in the opening match in Newcastle. Elsewhere, Adrian Lewis takes on Michael van Gerwen in what promises to be a pulsating match. Lewis knows he must win to keep his hopes of Premier League glory alive. Arguably the biggest match of the night is a repeat of the 2015 World Championship final, as Phil Taylor takes on Gary Anderson. Anderson’s defeat to Barney means his play-off spot is far from guaranteed; defeat against the Power will firmly put the pressure on the Scot.
However, defeat for Taylor will end his top 4 hopes, which would have appeared an unthinkable prospect two months ago. Stephen Bunting and Dave Chisnall engage in a battle of the St Helen’s stars in the evening’s other match; Bunting has won their last two meetings, so Chisnall will be hoping to continue his fine form in preparation for the O2. It promises to be another fantastic night of darting entertainment!
What was your take on the Anderson-van Barneveld incident? Please let me know your thoughts, by leaving your views in the comments section below!