Former world champion Rob Cross admits he is ‘devastated’ following his surprise omission from the 2022 Premier League Darts line-up.
Cross appeared poised to make a fifth consecutive appearance in the sport’s elite event, courtesy of his European Championship triumph in October.
Although there is no definitive criteria for Premier League selection, ‘Voltage’ is just the second player to miss out after landing a major title in the preceding year, along with Paul Nicholson following his Players Championship Finals success in 2010.
The 31-year-old has endured a tumultuous 18 months, but his second European Championship title sparked his resurgence, as he landed a first Pro Tour title since 2017 just weeks later, before registering wins over Raymond van Barneveld and Daryl Gurney at the World Championship.
The 2018 world champion looked a certainty to feature in the sport’s biggest roadshow, yet he’s the notable omission from the revamped eight-player field, which was announced on Monday.
Joe Cullen will make his Premier League debut after scooping his maiden televised title at the Ladbrokes Masters, while world No 1 Gerwyn Price, world champion Peter Wright, five-time winner Michael van Gerwen and UK Open champion James Wade are automatic picks as the world’s top four.
Reigning champion Jonny Clayton returns to defend his crown having claimed four major titles in a trophy-laden 2021 campaign, although World Championship runner-up Michael Smith and two-time world champion Gary Anderson complete the line-up, despite not winning a televised title last term.
“Obviously, I’m gutted and devastated, whichever word you want to use,” Cross told Oche.
“I thought the criteria for the Premier League was a major TV tournament winner gets a place. I was wrong.
“I’ve got absolutely nothing against any of the players who got a pick. I wish them all the very best for the tournament, they are all great guys. I’m delighted for Joe Cullen who gets his chance after a brilliant Masters win on Sunday night.
“I thought winning the European Championship was a major title, it obviously isn’t and probably not an important event as we all thought it was.”
Cross – a Premier League finalist in 2019 – suffered elimination in his previous two campaigns, but he has urged the PDC to implement a ‘fairer’ selection process for future seasons.
“It’s a ruthless decision-making process. While it isn’t a clear process and made in an office, it will always leave someone gutted. If it was just based on top eight in the world or winning TV majors, it would be fairer in my mind,” added the world No 10.
“To suddenly not be in is a big blow. All I can do is fight back and prove myself yet again. It’s frustrating but life is all about reacting to setbacks.”
The 2022 Cazoo Premier League begins in Cardiff on Thursday, with a bumper £1 million prize fund on offer.
The eight players will contest 16 mini-events during the season ahead of the Play-Offs, where the eventual champion will be crowned on May 26.
Image Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC