It’s the second round of the World Matchplay, and the pundits, are expecting Colin Osbourne, to give Phil Taylor, a test. Osbourne, fresh from victory over Mervyn King, exudes a bucketful of confidence and belief. He’s beaten Taylor recently. And fancies his chances of doing so again.
And maybe that was Osbourne’s problem. It was as if Taylor, wanted to prove that Osbourne’s victory, was nothing more than a one-off. For on Tuesday night in Blackpool, Phil Taylor played darts at the very highest level. At one point he was averaging nearly 114. He attained a level of darts, rarely seen. It was as if, he had fully mastered his craft.
That every single dart, was either a confirmation of excellence, or an opportunity to refine his throwing and reach excellence. Taylor, rarely strayed from this high level of concentration, focus and deliverance.
For his opponent, this creates compound problems. The biggest of which, is the knowledge that you cannot afford to give Taylor, a single shot at a double. Which means that you have to take, every double opportunity, that comes your way. Which, naturally puts pressure on your own throw.
It takes a player with a very strong mind, to handle these competitive pressures. Curiously, it was only when he had no chance of winning, that Colin Osbourne, began to throw with conviction and confidence. But, by then it was too late.
He had been in the presence of the world’s greatest player, at his imperial best. If you can take on the master, without fear of his brilliance, then you may be able to play your A game. And then, posibly, sew seeds of doubts in his mind. But, few in the world game, can consistently meet that demanding mental challenge.