Glen Durrant backed to recover from his ‘nightmare’ Premier League campaign

Glen Durrant’s Premier League campaign was succinctly captured in a social media post following his elimination. “The nightmare is over. The journey has just begun.”

Durrant was experiencing a confidence crisis prior to his Premier League title defence, and he’s endured a tumultuous few weeks in Milton Keynes, suffering nine consecutive defeats and departing the event without a point to his name.

The three-time BDO world champion enjoyed the finest moment of his PDC career in this event just six months prior, topping the league phase on debut and lifting the title back in October – his maiden PDC televised triumph.

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Just a fortnight later, he contracted Covid-19 and he concedes he’s been unable to halt the subsequent downward spiral. However, the Teessider is renowned for his tenacity and spirit, and has vowed to return stronger.

“Disappointed is a real understatement. I have had the greatest moment in my darting life stood here, holding this magnificent trophy, and I’ve had the worst two weeks of my darting life. It has been horrible. It’s been awful,” he told the Darts Show.

“I could have enjoyed the last three nights but I couldn’t, because I knew there was something fundamentally wrong, from my balance, from my throw.

“My throw is just unrecognisable. It is a shadow of its former self. I’m very weak on my right-hand side. I’m struggling to hold my arm up, which I’m hoping is the problem.

“I’ve joined a gym. I’m going back swimming, I’m going to come back fitter, leaner, stronger. This is not the end of me right now. I’m determined to come back and fight for what is rightfully mine.”

The 50-year-old has previously refuted suggestions that his battle with coronavirus was the biggest factor behind his slump, but the statistics illustrate an alarming drop off.

Durrant was averaging an impressive 97.69 in the six months prior to October’s Premier League final, but since then, his overall average has dropped almost eight points to 89.88.

His clinical combination finishing has been instrumental in his success since joining the PDC and his consistency on the outer ring is unwavering, which confirms it is his scoring power that has suffered.

Statistics collated from Darts Orakel illustrate that Durrant’s accuracy on the treble 20 has fallen by over 9 per cent since his Premier League success, while his percentage of stray darts thrown has doubled.

Durrant candidly referred to technical issues within his game, and Sky Sports expert Wayne Mardle believes these statistics can be attributed to a late release that has developed over recent months.

Glen Durrant – The Stats

The Nightmare is over

The journey has just begun

Thank you @OfficialPDC @MattPorter_PDC for the PL invite

Matchplay is now the priority @Garryplummer @TargetDarts @ESCSltd @macelkin180 @SMC_Flooring @UltiWindowsNE thank you for your support.

❤️

“Glen kind of lowers the elbow into a set position, then the arm extends out and then he throws. The arm is extending out too far, so what that is doing, it’s inducing a late release nearly every time,” Mardle said.

“It really is the worst thing that any player can do because you start to move your shoulder, then you start to overlearn, then you start to move your leg. All of a sudden your head goes backwards.

“A late release is stressful on the body and it’s stressful on the mind. Glen has now got a move that will induce a late release. That has to stop.”

The Premier League is notoriously an unforgiving beast, particularly when you’re bereft of confidence. There is no respite when consistently pitted against the world’s best, and that’s been exacerbated by the condensed nature of this year’s tournament.

In its traditional weekly format, players would have the opportunity to address technical issues and build up confidence on the Pro Tour, although ‘Duzza’ has not been afforded that luxury.

“I’m going to put it as simply as – it’s gone, get on with the next tournament, and I say tournament; where you play, you win or you lose, and you go home. I really do believe it’s like right: ‘I had a terrible Premier League campaign’. That’s it now. “

Mardle on Durrant…

“This has been brutal because he’s had to turn up night after night, playing poorly. It has been said that if it was week after week, he might have dragged himself out of the hole that he was in,” Mardle added.

“Not playing the top-end and playing against lesser players and getting a few wins there [Pro Tour] – I think if he can do that, it will be: ‘Do you know what, I may not be able to compete with the big boys right now, but I can still beat others.

“Give me a couple of months and build that confidence back up again, and I’ll be back beating these.”

Mardle’s punditry colleague Mark Webster is also no stranger to enduring a chastening Premier League experience. The Welshman suffered eight consecutive defeats in the sport’s biggest roadshow in 2011, and he sympathises with Durrant’s plight.

“When I was in there, I just couldn’t compete with the top, top players. I went away and did well on the rest of the tour,” Webster told Sky Sports.

“It is different for Glen, he knows he can compete because he’s been a three-time world champion, he’s the defending champion of the Premier League.

“He’s got to try and find some enjoyment, but the only way unfortunately you start enjoying darts is getting wins and feeling good about yourself.

“He is going to have a break from Germany and then there is a few Pro Tours on the horizon, so he needs to get himself ready for them and then he will be in Blackpool. He is defending a lot of money, so he has got to get himself confident, get himself relaxed.”

As Webster indicates, it’s set to be a defining few months for the world No 12, who is defending a sizeable chunk of ranking money on the two-year Order of Merit, having reached semi-finals at the World Matchplay, World Grand Prix and Grand Slam of Darts in 2019.

“It is under-appreciated how mental this game is. It’s not like any other sport. In every other sport these guys have help and he needs it at the minute, it is obvious,” added the Welshman.

“It is just one of those cycles. He needs to get away, but not for too long because he’s got a big year ahead.

“He’s got a big year ahead but I’m sure he will find the answers, but it is going to be a lot of hard work.”

Webster backs Duzza to bounce back…

“He needs to get through some of these Pro Tours – a couple of board finals would do him the world of good. A couple of wins and then from there, he goes into the business end of the year.

“He’s got a big year ahead but I’m sure he will find the answers, but it is going to be a lot of hard work.”

Fortunately for Durrant, hard work is his darting staple. His elimination was confirmed on Tuesday, but there was no chance of him throwing in the proverbial towel. His professional pride is indisputable, which made his struggles all the more dispiriting.

The unanimous respect shown by his colleagues in post-match interviews illustrate the regard with which he is held, but while Durrant will appreciate the sentiments, he will be smarting in equal measure.

He is a world champion. He is a winner. That’s why his current slump has been so alarming, but he possesses all the attributes to come back stronger. The nightmare is over. The journey has just begun.

Don’t miss an arrow as Premier League Darts continues on Wednesday, May 5 from 7pm on Sky Sports Arena – and stick with us through the week for updates, interviews and reaction from the start of this year’s competition

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