Nott to be missed
Sid Waddell is off to Nottingham to call the showdown between James Wade and Adrian Lewis.
Last Updated: 04/04/12 3:22pm
After a couple of weeks off, I'll be back in the box with a vengeance on Thursday night. We're in Nottingham, so there's a high chance of a few references to the Sherwood Forest Super League (circa. 1200-1300 AD).
In fact, Nottingham has always been an important place in the history of darts since the first ever World Championship was held there in February 1978. I was the only commentator back then and it was a bit of a stint, that one.
I remember going to a few pubs in the city and some of the dartboards had the shortest marks I'd ever seen. The News of the World tournament was always played at 8ft, the standard mark was 7ft6ins, but in Nottingham they only played from 7ft or 6ft6ins. As one of the Cockney players said at the time: 'You could push them in from here.'
I've also just finished reading a brilliant book on the brilliant fast bowler Harold Larwood, the Yorkshire miner who was ordered to bowl as fast as he could at the leg stump of Don Bradman in the 1930's. The 'bodyline' controversy almost caused Australia to leave the Commonwealth and you can expect a few references to that as well.
So listen out for those. I'll now turn my attention to the state of play in the Premier League.
I have a funny feeling that Raymond van Barneveld and James Wade will do themselves a lot of good on Thursday night.
Barney faces Kevin Painter, who struggles to raise his game against the top opponents. There have been ominous signs from the Dutchman, who has been landing his understackers much better in the last few weeks.
If he lands one just inside the top wire of the 60 he is able to send another directly beneath it. That also applies when he gets a lie above the double top. I'm very impressed by his control when it comes to put one dart under another and I think that will do for Painter.
I'm commentating on the second match of the night, which sees Adrian Lewis face James Wade.
I think this match will come down to specific areas of the board. Because Wade is left-handed, his signature shot is the double10, which is on the right-hand side of the board (in the same way that right-handers find the double16 quite natural). It means the double top is a safe haven for him because if he hits the 20, then double 10 is his back-up.
In contrast, the right-handed Lewis often ends up on double-five and I think he'll have more trouble with that than Wade does on the double 10. That's what could make the difference in this very tight match.
When he's under pressure, Adrian often suffers from the 'Thrutch' (something the late Jocky Wilson was famous for) which is when you put too much shoulder into the dart and your action resembles a discus throw rather than a javelin.
It's not very often you analyse a match involving the World Champion in those terms (it's almost like saying Lionel Messi will complete his next hat-trick with a mis-kick), but if they end up on those numbers then my money would be on Wade hitting the double 10 more than Lewis hits the double 5.
If Barney and Wade can consolidate themselves in second and third then we will see an almighty scramble below them in the table.
Phil Taylor is clear at the top of the League and I wouldn't give Andy Hamilton a price on beating him in Nottingham. The Power seems to have a different trick every week; in this year's competition he's thrown a nine-darter and broke the Premier League record average in Week 4.
It seems that Taylor can average 110 for fun and Hamilton might get a few legs early on, but it should be about 8-4 to The Power.
The final match of the night should be a good 'un because Simon Whitlock and Gary Anderson will both be a bag of nerves.
I don't know where Whitlock's 100-plus finishes have disappeared to. This has all of the makings of a draw and I think the Aussie would accept that after losing 8-0 last week.
After Lewis versus Wade, that could be the most fascinating match of the night.