Put off the critics
Rod Harrington doesn't feel Adrian Lewis deliberately tried to put James Wade off in Nottingham.
Last Updated: 11/04/12 3:38pm
Gamesmanship will always be a part of darts, but I can't really say if Adrian Lewis was getting involved in it last week.
James Wade has apparently made an official complaint about their match in Nottingham and we'll have to see what the Darts Regulation Authority say about it, but all I can say is that when I walked onto that stage I could clearly see that a floorboard was loose.
Myself and Dave Clark went on stage to have a look and there was no doubt that a panel in the stage had popped and come out of its joint. A member of our stage crew confirmed that and they secured it before the next match started.
Raymond van Barneveld and Kevin Painter, who'd played in the first game, both said they noticed it but they waited until their opponent had walked past it. When I was stood up there on the stage myself I could feel it - and it made a popping noise.
I think that's why James thought that Adrian was stamping his feet. Now I can't say if he was deliberately standing on it, but even though these two have "previous", my initial reaction is that he didn't do anything wrong.
Perhaps because Wade is left-handed and was facing that direction he noticed it more than the other players. The DRA will study the tapes and look at whether Lewis changed his stride at all when he walked back from the board; if he changed direction then it would look like he was doing it deliberately.
But I don't believe he did and I don't think he did anything wrong. But Wade hasn't done anything wrong either; when he felt the popping and the springing, he had every right to wonder what was going on. He was not exaggerating because when I was on stage you could feel it moving.
Sometimes things like that happen in sport. However, I thought it was unfair for the crowd to boo Adrian when he was trying to explain the incident afterwards. This young man is a double world champion and I feel we should celebrate him, but I don't think he's been getting a fair deal from the fans.
He isn't scheduled to be playing in Sheffield this week and it's probably a good thing because he might have got some stick from the crowd, even though it's not apparent that he did anything wrong.
Let's take a look at this week's matches...
James Wade v Gary Anderson
Gary Anderson will play twice in Sheffield, which might not be a good thing because he's not playing well at the moment. This double-header could make or break his season because if he ends up with four points he will be on course for the play-offs, but if he loses twice then he will be in big trouble. I expected more out of him last week, but he walked into an in-form Simon Whitlock and he'll be hoping for better things this time.
Lewis won't be in Sheffield, so Wade won't have to deal with any niggle in the practice room and he can hopefully move on. Let's not forget he was 4-2 up and coasting against Lewis at the break last week and if he recaptures that form then Anderson will have a huge task on his hands. As I've said a million times, you never know which Gary Anderson will turn up and he'll need to get out of the blocks quickly.
Simon Whitlock v Kevin Painter
Simon Whitlock was whitewashed 8-0 a fortnight ago, so it was nice to see him get a good win last week. As for Kevin Painter, even though he lost to Raymond van Barneveld, I thought he played some of his best darts in a long time.
I think Painter owns the phrase 'how's your luck?' Phil Taylor set the world record average against him and last week Barney set his highest-ever TV average against him! You have to feel sorry for him, but I was impressed by how he got on with things and I thought he played extremely well. Sometimes you walk into players on form and you have to accept that in the Premier League because these are the best players in the world.
I think he's got a big chance against Whitlock, who's been so hit-and-miss with his doubles, and he doesn't play so well when people get ahead of him. On form you would go for Simon, but if Kev plays like he did last week then he's got a big chance of getting two points, though I'm sure he'd settle for one. I think he might get at least that.
Phil Taylor v Raymond van Barneveld
This could be the game of the year. Sometimes we say that and it ends up being a bit of an anti-climax, but if Barney can get up there and play like he's been playing in the last few weeks then we could be set for something special. If he can play the dartboard and forget he's facing Phil Taylor then he's got a major chance of doing something great.
Taylor hasn't been at his most brilliant before the break in many of his games, so Barney has got to get out of the gate and try to make sure he's 4-2 up by the interval. When you look at the form he's in then he's more than capable of taking a draw and if he can get himself ahead early on then we could see any result. There's a draw for Barney in this game... and maybe more.
Andy Hamilton v Gary Anderson
Andy Hamilton is playing some of the best darts of his life and has been pounding the doubles lately. I hate it when players waste darts, but you never see that with this guy; he's there until the last dart is thrown and he always gives his all. He needs to start getting some points on the board to drag himself away from the bottom of the table and he's got a good chance of doing so with Anderson having to play two games in one night.
We won't know what we'll get from Anderson until the first game - that's how he is - and if Hamilton plays like he did against Taylor then he should get a draw or a win. He may be bottom of the table, but he's still in the fight for the play-offs because the players are so closely-matched and that's good to see. He's desperate for two points here, though.