Rob Cross reached four major finals and scooped two televised titles in 2019, adding the World Matchplay and European Championship to his 2018 World Championship triumph. Nevertheless, ‘Voltage’ perhaps didn’t receive the credit that his achievements merited.
The 29-year-old was embroiled in a battle with Michael van Gerwen for top spot in last year’s Premier League before losing to the irrepressible Dutchman in the O2 showpiece, whilst he was also denied in the UK Open final by Nathan Aspinall back in March.
Nevertheless, Cross struggled during the latter stages of the season, whilst the likes of Gerwyn Price and Peter Wright flourished, therefore the Englishman’s earlier exploits were somewhat overshadowed.
Cross suffered early exits at the World Series Finals, Grand Slam and Players Championship Finals ahead of the annual pilgrimage to Alexandra Palace, and defending £400,000 from his famous triumph two years – he suffered a crushing 3-0 defeat against Kim Huybrechts in his opener.
It was one of Cross’ most disappointing televised performances although it provided the world no 4 with a real wake-up call, as he’s since embarked on a strict fitness regime that has seen him lose over stone in the space of just six weeks.
“You’ve got to learn. You have two choices. You either want to win or you want to lose and when you want to win you have to adapt, you have to learn and you have to adapt to whatever is in front of you,” Cross told Tungsten Tales.
“I’ve been doing a bit of fitness and looking after myself, and I feel a lot lot better, a lot trimmer. It’s not to rekindle form or anything like that, but I suppose the way I was, when I did feel overweight and I looked at myself, I didn’t like myself.
“It’s very hard to go and achieve what you want to achieve when you wake up in the day and you don’t really like what you see, so I’ve had to change that but now the ideal thing is keep it off, keep going with it and keep working hard. You’ll get the results if you work hard enough.
“I think it’s helped me in the mental department that I feel better in myself and not only that, you know you can do it. Not eating rubbish and you’re saying to yourself you’re being more disciplined in your diet – I’m more disciplined with my practice than I’ve ever been now.”
It’s easy to forget that Cross is still a relative novice in darting terms. The former electrician burst on to the scene and went on to lift the PDC World Championship on debut in his first year as a professional, defeating Michael van Gerwen and Phil Taylor in the process.
He admittedly struggled with the scrutiny placed on his shoulders in 2018 although he performed superbly for large periods of last season. Only Van Gerwen appeared in more major televised finals than ‘Voltage’, who still has his sights on becoming the world No 1 in the not too distant future.
“I’ve probably gone back to 2017 when there was nothing there and I had to put that time in, put that hard work in. At the end of the day, this year I will work harder and not be so lazy, not let things slip and hopefully I can be the best that I can be this year.
“I’m only interested in number one in the world to be honest and that’s probably not possible this year. It’s down to me to get ready and prepare myself now but I feel absolutely fine. This is my fourth year, it’s still early days, I still think I can make number one. It’s well achievable.”
Cross endured a disappointing start to the 2020 campaign at the season-opening Masters in Milton Keynes, succumbing 10-5 to Adrian Lewis in his first round clash – posting the fifth lowest average in the tournament’s history.
Nevertheless, he’ll be hoping to continue his impressive Premier League record when the sport’s biggest roadshow kicks off in Aberdeen on Thursday night. Cross – who has reached the play-offs in his two previous appearances, meets world No 3 Gerwyn Price on Scottish soil.
Photo Credit: Taylor Lanning Photography