Rod Harrington hails the new world champ and explains the reasons for the Premier League wildcards.
Last Updated: 04/01/12 1:07pm
Adrian Lewis is the best darts player in the world right now and there's no question he can go as far as he wants.
When he said he was the best player in the world he wasn't being big-headed; he was simply stating what he believed. I like to see that because it shows a person has confidence in his own ability - and if you have that belief you will play better.
Wayne Mardle said on television that Lewis won't win 10 World Championships, but I believe he can, largely because he's got the obstacle of Phil Taylor out of his head.
I know he didn't have to beat The Power to win either of his world titles, but that doesn't matter. There's an old saying in golf that there's no room for comment on a scorecard and that applies here as well. You have to recognise Lewis as a true and worthy world champion.
I spoke to Phil on the day after the World Final and he was quiet and subdued, but he assured me he'll be back - and I know he will. But Lewis deserves all the credit and it doesn't matter that he didn't beat Taylor.
To be fair, Aidy didn't play too well last year and missed the Players Championship. I think that woke him up and I expect him to have a great 2012, so it was fitting that he started off by winning the Worlds.
It was obvious he wasn't at the top of his game, but he did the right things at the right time. I've often said great players do great things at crucial times and that's what Aidy did.
In the first round against Nigel Heydon he looked dead and buried, but he didn't panic. He believed his ability would get him through and he won a game that he might have lost a few years ago.
He now believes: "I'll get on a run in a minute and nobody will be able to touch me" and when you've got that in your head, you can win from anywhere.
His back was against the wall against Robert Thornton, but he dodged the bullets and then there was that amazing comeback against James Wade in the semis. He was 5-1 down and Wade should never have given that game up, but Lewis put his foot on the pedal, upped his scoring and won the game.
Lewis was the man of the tournament, but this World Championship was also the making of runner-up Andy Hamilton.
He'd lost a bit of belief in his ability and has been unlucky in the last couple of years, but he's worked hard and I was so pleased that the PDC have been able to reward him with a place in the Premier League.
His manager Jess Harding came up to me at the PDC Awards dinner and gave me a big hug (and, as a former champion boxer, he's capable of breaking bones in an old guy like me...) because I'd advised him to manage Hamilton.
I'd told him he was a good, solid professional who just needed a bit of luck - and now he's a world finalist and a Premier League player! I'm really pleased for him.
Premier League picks
It was tough to choose the Premier League wildcards because there were eight or nine names in the mix to join Phil Taylor, Adrian Lewis, James Wade and Gary Anderson.
We chose Hamilton following his World Championship performance and we also went for Simon Whitlock for his ability and his presence on stage. The crowd love him and his run to the semi-finals of the World Championship got him in.
We selected Kevin Painter for winning a major, which not many people have done over the last five years with Taylor, Wade and Lewis around. Also, he was seventh in the rankings a few years ago but lost the slot to Mark Dudbridge, who'd come second in the World Matchplay and the World Championship.
A lot of people will say he got in because he and I go back 25 years, but that's absolute rubbish. As I told him, the whole board voted for him and after discussing it for an hour it was a unanimous decision.
Raymond van Barneveld may have had real doubts over getting in because of the way he performed last year, but he has real presence on stage and the crowd love him. He gets the fans motivated and we gave him a slot.
However, like Wayne Mardle and Peter Manley in their last few years in the Premier League, you can't hang your coat on a walk-on. You've got to get on the stage and do it because the crowd will be dulled if you don't perform with the darts.
I hope Raymond takes up my offer of working with him for a couple of days. If not, it doesn't matter, but I want to see him back to form in the Premier League.
The only person who could really complain about missing out is Wes Newton and I feel sorry for him because he's a lovely young man.
He's sixth in the world rankings and will feel he should be there, but he's got plenty of years ahead of him and he will be back. If he's in the top eight next year there's a massive chance he'll get in because you don't normally get overlooked twice.
A lot of the decisions went on the performances at the World Championship. Paul Nicholson was in the mix, but if you're going to react to a crowd of 3,000 people at Alexandra Palace, what are you going to do in front of 10,000 in the Premier League? Mervyn King soon found out that crowds can turn against you and ruin your form.
Mark Webster and Terry Jenkins were talked about and Dave Chisnall's name was in the mix after beating Phil Taylor at the World Championship, but he played terrible darts the next day.
Everybody got discussed and the wildcards are always a difficult decision. You put a smile on the face of some players, but others resent you for leaving them out. I get that more than anyone else because I'm on the PDC Board of Directors, but I also work with the players day in, day out.
I know players think we hold grudges, but that's not true. If that had been the case then Terry Jenkins wouldn't have got in last year because I had some big arguments with him over his attitude before the World Championship.
You also have to remember the Premier League is not a darts tournament; it's a show. Barry Hearn does not hide the fact that we make a lot of money from it, so we need showmen who are also able to throw darts.
The PDC has to make commercial decisions to put more money in the prize pot. The prize money for the Tour currently stands at £5million and we want to get that up to £6m very shortly - and we can only do that through commercial means.
In the end we want to get that up to £10m and that's Barry's main aim. People say he's only in it for the money, but that's not true; he's in it because he loves this game and wants to see it grow.
In Tuesday's board meeting he had the casting vote and he decided to put the Premier League prize money up this year - and I know that once we get to £10million he will sit back in his chair with a huge smile on his face.
If it was left to the players we would probably only have £1m in the pot, so to get the money up we have to tread on people's toes. I'll get stick for that, but I'm big enough and ugly enough to take it.
And I'm delighted Hamilton and Painter have been given the chance to make their debuts. They have great presence on stage and I think they'll do really well.