ROB CROSS admits that most darts players would be prepared to play on “the moon” just to get back on the oche.
The 2018 World Champion has endured a traumatic lockdown with the loss of his grandad two months ago to coronavirus.
During the heartbreak, the family moved quickly to allow his Nana to move in to help her cope with the shock.
Yet despite all this, Voltage still played in the PDC Home Tour, reaching the semi-finals. Now he’s concentrating on helping his wife Georgia through the pregnancy of their fourth child.
Defending World Matchplay champ Cross, 29, is keen to get back to some sort of normality and has dismissed any reservations about the switch of the event to the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes.
“Obviously the Winter Gardens is a special venue, I was very proud to win the Matchplay on such an iconic stage.
“But right now that doesn’t matter. The emotional stuff has to take a back seat. We are not in normal times, all the players just want to get back playing proper darts.
“To be quite honest, I think most players would be happy to play on the moon right now. They don’t care where it is, it’s just important to get back to the day job.
“Right now there might even be a better atmosphere on the moon than behind closed doors darts, but who cares!
“Yes it’s a shame and all that. But I think everyone, including the fans, just want to see some real darts on TV at least.”
Cross paid tribute to Barry Hearn and Matt Porter at the PDC for working overtime to keep the darts going in any way or form.
He added: “My main concern all along is for the boys lower down the rankings. There are some players on the breadline.
“Most players have to take a risk at some stage to give up their normal job to go full-time into darts. Some of them rely on the money they win every week.
“I was lucky to have a rapid move up the rankings. But I feel for those who have been stuck at home with no income at all.
“At least we can get to the Summer Series next week and get going again. Then we have the Matchplay and it will feel back to normal a bit.
“It’s not just the players, there’s so many officials, referees,
….people who make darts happen behind the scenes, the real unsung heroes.
“I’ve got total respect for Barry and Matt for working so hard to get us back as soon as possible. I know it’s not been easy for them at all.”
Cross started the year off in fairly sluggish fashion after a first round exit in the World Championship to Kim Huybrechts.
But he embarked on a huge weight loss programme and arrived at the Premier League leaner and fitter, although his results were still a tad under par.
He added: “I hope I can turn up for the Matchplay and have a good run.
I need some positivity after a very difficult few months for the family. It’s been challenging to say the least.
“Of course I can defend the title. But I’ll need to hit the ground running, the Matchplay is a sort of tournament where there’s no hiding place, the quality is so high from the off.”