Thursday 01, March 2012
Darts: Phil Taylor still has the power
AS the 2012 Premier League darts season got underway, the main talking point was whether Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor’s reign at the top was coming to an end.
The 15 times world champion had looked more vulnerable in the final few months of last season. After dropping out of the world championship at the second round stage for the first time in his career, some suggested his aura of invincibility had left him.
But a new season can bring new hope.
Taylor headed into the new campaign straight off the back of winning the World Cup with Adrian Lewis. In doing so he recorded the second highest average of the tournament and the second highest average in a single match, hardly the sign of a player on the wane.
In keeping with this, the first Premier League week at Manchester’s M.E.N Arena saw Taylor average a monster 112.79 and hit eight 180’s in a 14 leg match. This was all the more meritorious when you consider he was 5-1 down to Lewis early in the match, who incidentally averaged a superb 104.05. From an impossible position against the two times world champion, ‘The Power’ rescued a point as they drew 7-7.
Week two, from Aberdeen, saw Taylor play Kevin Painter. Again, the Stoke man was behind in the match, 5-3 down. Again, he somehow found his stride to hit a nine darter in the middle of a five leg run - his 11 televised maximum – on his way to an 8-5 victory.
The third week saw Taylor renew rivalry with old foe and five times world champion Raymond Van Barneveld in Belfast. ‘The Power’ was straight out of the blocks this time, sweeping to a 4-0 lead against the Dutchman who, to his credit, managed to win four legs making it to a double before Taylor. Still, the result was an emphatic 8-4 win for Taylor with a whopping 112.91 three dart average.
Twice in the last five years speculation has mounted as to the decline of the greatest player to grace the game of darts. Both times he has come back stronger than before.
In 2008/09 Taylor won two more world titles after supposedly being past it. And now he is smashing in three dart averages as if he’s buying milk at the supermarket.
On this evidence, tales of the demise of ‘The Power’ are seemingly a tad premature. The king is not dead, long live the king.
by Brian Cruickshank
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