Wayne Mardle says legendary Dutchman Raymond van Barneveld admitted to “feeling flat” in front of 12,000 darts fans in Berlin last Thursday.
Van Barneveld was locked at 3-3 going into the seventh leg against world champion Rob Cross, with Barney taking out 112 in the sixth to level the score, before Cross went on to claim control of the match to seal a 7-3 triumph and secure back-to-back Premier League wins.
An out-of-sorts Van Barneveld missed seven of his 10 attempts at a double and made a mid-game change of darts, and was punished as Cross won the final four legs without reply, sealing the win with a 128 checkout.
Five-time world champion Van Barneveld told Sky Sports’ pundit Mardle the next day that he was not feeling the magic and “didn’t think it was going to click” in Germany.
“I just said to him, ‘Barney it didn’t really click for you last night, did it?’ And he said, ‘no, I just felt flat and I didn’t think it was going to click’, and that was that,” Hawaii 501 said.
Cross admitted "Raymond didn't play his best and he wasn't himself tonight"
Asked how it is possible to feel flat in front of a record-breaking crowd at the Mercedes-Benz Arena, Mardle explained: “We’re all human beings and some days you just don’t feel like it. When I say ‘feel like it’, no matter what you’re doing, you don’t always feel great every day, do you?
“And when you have to compete, it’s not the main reason why I stopped competing, but it was one of the reasons. More often than not I had that desire to compete, and sometimes you didn’t, but you played yourself into it.
“The latter stages of my career I had lost that will to fight and I became disinterested. I’m not saying Barney is losing the will to fight, but what I am saying is that sometimes you can wake up and you feel like you need to be gifted the game, rather than fight for it. I think that was Barney’s attitude and mentality last week.
“We know Barney. When he won the Premier League in 2014 he came from nowhere. He made a great run and looked like he was going to be eliminated, but ends up making the Play-Offs and winnings the whole shabang – that’s how good he is.
“Last week Barney didn’t have the fight, but this week in Exeter [against table-topper Michael Smith] I think he will.”
During his Premier League defeat against Cross in Berlin, Van Barneveld changed his darts, but why?
And regarding the washbag incident when TV cameras caught Barney rummaging around before taking out another set of darts, Mardle said: “I can only assume that one set of darts was a slightly different weight to the other or, because I didn’t want to pry too much, they were a different grip or weight, or both. Or they had a slightly longer stem or shorter stem than the other, and rather than muck around changing them, you basically just change the whole unit.
“But the minute you have two sets of darts up there with different set-ups your mind isn’t where it should be. I think that might have caused some sort of uneasiness about him.”
Watch how the drama unfolded on Week Four of Premier League Darts from Berlin
Wayne Mardle was speaking to Sky Sports’ Raz Mirza. The 2018 Premier League heads to the Westpoint Arena in Exeter this Thursday with coverage underway from 7pm on Sky Sports Action & Sky Sports Mix, which you can find on channel 287, and is free for all Sky customers. Ten weeks of tungsten action will then continue through to the season’s conclusion with the Play-Offs on May 17 at The O2 in London.
Night Five – March 1 at the Westpoint Arena, Exeter Gary Anderson v Rob Cross Daryl Gurney v Peter Wright Mensur Suljovic v Michael van Gerwen Raymond van Barneveld v Michael Smith Simon Whitlock v Gerwyn Price
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