Adrian Lewis is a rare breed. Unashamedly immodest about his skills at the oche, he also possesses the ability to win in two different ways. For Lewis, coming from behind or leading from the offset mean the same thing and inevitably end in the same result for the 2012 Ladbrokes World Darts Championship winner: success.
Whilst ‘Jackpot’s’ 7-3 walkover of Andy Hamilton in last night’s final will hardly be remembered as a classic, it was important for showing the two gears to Lewis’ game. Hamilton, the 200/1 underdog, managed to level the sets at 2-2 before Lewis slipped it into fourth gear.
A break of throw in the fifth tipped it 3-2 in Lewis’ favour and meant the industrious Hamilton became little more than a distant spec on Lewis’ mirror as he glided to his second successive World Championships, joining Eric Bristow and Raymond van Barneveld as the only players to defend the cup after their first taste of victory.
But to see why Lewis is fancied as the usurper to Phil Taylor’s throne we must go back to his epic semi-final performance against world number three James Wade. Out of rhythm and feathering his darts at the board, Lewis found himself 5-1 down when Wade needed only double 18 to assure his first appearance in the World Championship final. Wade’s uncharacteristic miss signaled his demise.
‘Jackpot’ sprung into life and reeled off ten legs in a row before he accelerated into top gear with a stunning 6-5 triumph that included an effortless 161 checkout to deny Wade. Lewis heralded his come-from-behind performance as “the best win” of his career and confidently declared, “That shows why I am the champion. I am the best in the world.”
Supporters of Phil Taylor, 15-time world champion, may have something to say about that, but it is hard to identify anyone else with the same attributes as Lewis. Taylor’s exit in the second round to little-known Dave Chisnall could spark an alarming trend at the World Championships for the current world number one given that he failed to reach the final in 2011.
Taylor hasn’t hidden the fact that he trained Lewis as his protégé and, given the latter’s sense of timing for producing the spectacular, it seems Taylor performed his role admirably. After winning last night Lewis was asked how many times he thought he could etch his name onto darts’ most illustrious trophy. “At least ten,” was the riposte. That’s still five behind Taylor, but maybe, for once, Lewis was being modest.