Rob Cross made a return to competitive action in Thursday’s PDC Home Tour, a welcome distraction after the death of his grandfather but ‘Voltage’ is in philosophical mood as he looks ahead to the future.
While the world battles to find a new normal during the coronavirus pandemic, the 2018 world champion has more personal issues.
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Just a couple of months before the birth of his fourth child, due in August, Cross lost his grandad Colin Miles, 68, to coronavirus last month and attended the funeral on Monday before taking to the home oche on Thursday night.
“We buried him on Monday. Obviously it was very hard and he was a massive part of all our lives, but he wouldn’t want us to be down, he’d want us to keep cheerful,” Cross told Sky Sports News’ Michael Bridge in a wide-reaching interview.
“I suppose if you look at it with the circumstances in the world at the minute, there’s loads of people going through exactly the same thing so my heart goes out to them.
“We’ve had to consult with doctors so that my nan can move in, but she’s here now and we’ve taken her in to give her a bit of help because she’s 73, so it’s been a bit upside down but we’re getting there.”
Cross also paid a moving tribute to his grandfather, insisting it was a ‘privilege’ to have him in his life.
“He actually came with me to a Pro Tour and he was always supportive. He watched me every time I played and he was just an amazing man really,” Voltage added before going on to claim three wins from three on Thursday night and become the highest ranked player to top a Home Tour group.
“I will say this – it was a privilege to have him in my life to get that experience with him and I think for me growing up, he defined me as the person I am now. I’m very grateful to him and to look back on those fond memories, I’m just so glad that I had them.”
Cross has become accustomed to the gruelling demands of the PDC circuit having begun his third consecutive Premier League campaign in February, although the enforced lay-off is unknown territory for many of the sport’s leading lights.
The 29-year-old opted out of some Pro Tour events last term to manage his schedule and whilst it’s a fine balancing act between maintaining match sharpness and avoiding fatigue, he admits he’s missing the regular stream of competition.
“You do miss it. It’s crazy because usually I’ll do six or eight weeks and I might crave to have a bit of family time, but it’s totally the opposite now. Now it’s just a waiting game really,” Cross admitted.
“It is not very nice because you’re practising, you’re playing well and you feel ready to go, but you’ve got nothing to really play for. I’m quite glad with the Home Tour on at the minute, it gives us something to do as dart players.”
The PDC introduced the ‘Home Tour’ concept last month, giving all 128 Tour Card holders the opportunity to compete against their colleagues from around the globe and Cross has heaped praise on the PDC for their innovative and proactive approach.
“I think in every aspect if I look at the PDC since I joined three or four years ago now, I’ve never had a quarrel. They pay us well obviously and everything is so professional,” said the world number four.
“I never get any problems when I go to play on TV or on the floor, they’re just amazing at what they do – they’re the best at it and long may it continue.
“When I first started it was all about equal opportunities. You go out there and you earn what you get. You work hard and you can get great results as I showed in my first year.
“I think it was very important to keep everyone involved because at the end of the day we’re all members and we’re all the same.
“It doesn’t matter on your ranking at the minute, so I just believe it was very important to keep everyone involved and try and give them a bit of money and keep the sport going. I think it’s fantastic really where we are with the game.”
It has been an extremely testing period for Cross, although he and his wife Georgia are expecting their fourth child in August and the former electrician is relishing the prospect of welcoming a new addition to their family.
“The darts circuit throughout the year is busy, busy, busy. You spend a day or two at home and then you’re travelling again, sometimes you don’t come home for three weeks.
“It’s been a total life change but we’re expecting a new baby in August now, so everything is slotting together at the minute.
“We’re expecting a little boy so it will be good and then September or whenever we go back, if we are back by then, I’ll be run off my feet like every other dart player in the world.”
Cross referenced the sense of uncertainty surrounding when the PDC calendar will resume and there are major question marks about whether the World Matchplay – the next major televised event – will take place in July.
The three-time major winner is unsure whether he’ll have the opportunity to defend his title at the Winter Gardens but he remains philosophical and admits public safety is the paramount concern.
“I know things are easing a little bit but I don’t think the Matchplay will [go ahead]. I hope so, because obviously I get to defend it this year and go back and have another go.
“At the same time, with the way the country is and everything in the world, as long as everyone is safe that’s the main thing. If we have to sit at home until September or October it doesn’t really matter as long as everyone is still alive, still breathing and they’re well.”
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