Steve Beaton insists he has no immediate plans to retire ahead of his World Matchplay landmark

Given the uncertainty that has plagued the sporting world throughout 2020, the familiar presence of Steve Beaton at the World Matchplay will provide a sense of reassurance – the feeling that normality is gradually returning.

The Matchplay represents one of the highlights of the darting calendar and Beaton is set to embark on a 20th consecutive appearance at the summer showpiece – a testament to his remarkable longevity.

Now 56, ‘The Bronzed Adonis’ returned to action in last week’s PDC Summer Series and secured his qualification via the Pro Tour Order of Merit, and he revealed his delight at reaching such a landmark.

“I’m over the moon to qualify again for it. I knew obviously before the Summer Series started last week that I was in a good position. It was just about keeping that position and qualifying again,” Beaton told the Darts Show podcast.

“All I had to do was pick up a decent amount of money and I knew I would be alright. Day One was great, then it went downhill from there!

“You’re under some sort of pressure because anybody can jump above you like Ryan Joyce did with his win. Anything can happen really.”

  • 2020 World Matchplay: Results, draw, schedule
  • Milton Keynes to host revised Premier League Darts

World Matchplay – Saturday’s matches

Download the Darts Show Podcast on: Spotify | Apple | Castbox | Spreaker

Beaton made a strong start to the Summer Series with a last 16 appearance on the opening day, but claimed just the solitary victory across the remaining four events.

The former world champion concedes that he found the extended hiatus difficult, but he managed to stay productive and is hoping to reap the benefits ahead of an inevitably congested schedule.

“You go in positive but it was hard, it was tough that lockdown. After a few months you’re starting to get a bit agitated. You want to get out a bit more, but I have been cycling, I’ve kept myself active.

“Nobody wants this virus going any further so you do your best. I’ve tried to keep fit, I’ve actually lost about a stone although it probably won’t show! I have just been trying to keep active really.”

Now it’s all eyes on the Matchplay and Beaton has been pitted against two-time world champion Adrian Lewis – a finalist at this event back in 2013.

The adage of ‘no easy draws’ could not be more pertinent given the outrageous depth within this year’s field, but considering Lewis’ inconsistency of late, Beaton is cautiously optimistic.

“It’s funny. Before the draw came out you’ve got the names and you’re looking down the list and I was thinking who do you really want to draw? It’s one of them. They are all going to be tough games whoever you draw,” he added.

  • PDC Summer Series: What did we learn?
  • All-star cast for Matchplay opening night

“Ade [Lewis] has been up and down with his form, so maybe it’s a good thing drawing him. Obviously you never go in thinking that was a good draw. I think it is all going to be on the day.”

The pair have made a staggering 35 Matchplay appearances between them and Lewis is poised to feature in the event for a 16th straight year, although there will be a sense of unfamiliarity for both.

For the first time since its inception, the tournament won’t be held at its spiritual Winter Gardens home, with Milton Keynes’ Marshall Arena instead hosting the nine days of action behind closed doors.

Lewis is renowned for thriving on the big stage atmosphere – his back-to-back World Championship crowns, coupled with his haul of other major titles and televised nine-darters attest to that reputation.

Nevertheless, Beaton equally relishes the lure of an audience and irrespective of the venue, his popularity is unequivocal, therefore it is a situation that favours neither player.

World Matchplay – Monday’s First Round matches

“It is going to be a strange one, no crowd. I’m not quite sure how they are going to do it. I think they are on about putting in a bit of background noise but I think it is going to be strange for him and me. It is going to be a funny game.”

“I don’t think it will affect too many people. You get the odd player that likes to get the crowd going which they are not going to be able to do, but I think it’s going to be a bigger version of a Pro Tour really.”

Following the recent retirements of Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld, Beaton is now the senior statesman on the circuit, but like a fine wine, ‘The Adonis’ gets better with age.

It will be a quarter of a century in January since he lifted his World Championship title at the Lakeside but he’s still throwing superbly – occupying a spot in the world’s top 25 and consistently featuring in the latter stages of tour events.

However, success in the PDC’s premier events has largely proven elusive. His semi-final showing at the 2001 Matchplay marks his best Blackpool display and in December, he equalled his best performance at the PDC World Championship with a run to the last 16.

Beaton’s best major PDC results

World Championship – L16 (2002, 04, 20)

World Matchplay – SFs (2001)

World Grand Prix – SFs (2004)

Grand Slam – SFs (2010)

UK Open – QFs (2004)

European Championship – Final (2009)

PC Finals – QFs (2017)

It is a source of frustration for the evergreen Coventry man, but he remains philosophical and attributes the growing standard as the factor behind his major drought.

“I am always there or thereabouts but I never seem to put a good run together. It is a strange thing – it is just the standard these days now, I’m probably playing better now than I was playing before, it’s just the standard has got better.

“It was like at the last five days at the Summer Series – all I did was make a silly mistake on a double, miss a double with a couple of darts and that costs you. It is as simple as that really.

“If you get a lead, hopefully you work on it from that. You have got to get in front really and I’m hoping if I get off to a good start against Ade I will be fine.”

Given the relentless rigours of the modern-day circuit, coupled with the emerging talent coming through the darting conveyor belt, Beaton deserves immense credit for defying the odds and standing the ultimate test of time.

I think the lockdown has taught me a lesson – you can’t just sit around and do nothing

Beaton on his future…

However, the world No 25 is set to create yet more history later this year, as he closes in on qualification for a World Darts Championship for the 30th year in succession.

Beaton is level with 16-time world champion Phil Taylor on 29 consecutive appearances but as he prepares to usurp the Stoke legend, he insists he has no immediate plans to retire.

That will provide relief for the swathe of supporters that worship ‘The Bronzed Adonis’, although he did outline a scenario where he would consider his future in the sport.

“I think if I dropped down and I had to go to Qualifying School I think I might just call it a day then and maybe do exhibitions and things like that. I don’t think I will be running around chasing for tournaments there.

“It is starting to tell you then that you’re maybe not going to be good enough anymore and it’s time to hang the darts up really, but I think the lockdown has taught me a lesson – you can’t just sit around and do nothing.

“You have to have some kind of interest in life and whether that involves the darts or not I don’t know really.”

Source: Read Full Article

You May Also Like