STEPHEN BUNTING is ready to step up his bid to be lockdown champion but admits he is “scared” about the sport returning to the big stage. The former BDO World Champion, talking exclusively to Darts World, continues his aim to be the first-ever PDC Home Tour winner tonight (Weds) against Glen Durrant, Alan Tavern, and Mike De Decker.
But The Bullet, 35, revealed he has major concerns about the re-start of sport during the coronavirus crisis.He said: “It’s tough to see what happens now if the Matchplay goes ahead because I haven’t had the chance to qualify for it as I’m World No.17. The tournaments I would have had to qualify haven’t happened.
“Also when we get back to full speed, how are they going to fit all these tournaments in? They are probably going to have to do five Pro Tours a week. “But is it safer for us to go over to Germany and play because restrictions have been lifted over there.
“I’m not being funny but I’ve got Type 2 diabetes, I don’t want to be getting on a plane with loads of other people. There’s a lot of things to sort. “There’s a huge death rate with this disease for those who have diabetes. “I am more susceptible to death than most. The figures are there to show that. That’s why I’ve been more scared to leave the house because you just don’t know.“
Look at Kenny Dalglish. He was a carrier but no symptoms. So if we re-start the tour, who’s to say that no one has got it unless we are all tested? “At the same time, we want to get back playing again. It’s a really hard situation.”
Despite all the worries, Bunting is confident of going all the way to being the first-ever lockdown World Champion – now that’s he moved his board.He added: “The board was downstairs just as you come in the front door. But over the last few days I’ve been moving stuff around. “I’ve got a three storey house so I’ve now put my son Toby on the top floor. My practice board is now in his old bedroom. It’s a lot more secure.“
In the past I’ve been practising when the postman has been at the door or deliveries. It was a bit of an annoyance. “It also backed onto the living room so the wife had to keep the TV noise down and that wasn’t fair for her either.“
I think it looks pretty good and I played in an online tournament on Monday against Ricky Evans and a few others and got to the semi-final. But I played some really good stuff. “You are playing the best players in the world. To be the first lockdown World Champion would be a great achievement. “Obviously I’ve been practicing and getting ready for it. I’ve got a very tough group but if I can play the way I did in the first group, I’ll be OK. My first nine-dart average was pretty big so if I can keep that up and finish good, I’ve got a chance of winning the whole thing.“
Me and Alan (Tabern) over the years have had some great games, both from St Helens so there’s a bit of rivalry there. “Glen Durrant has come over to the PDC and done pretty much the same as I did. That’ll be a good game because I don’t think we’ve played each other since he came across from the BDO.“Mike De Decker is also playing well to qualify so three different games but all very hard in other ways.
“It’s a tournament that you want to win. You could be the first name on that trophy, it also may also be the only name ever as it may never happen again. Hopefully the only lockdown World Champion!
“I think the novelty bit has worn off now. It’s a proper tournament you want to win. Playing in this is actually similar to the Pro Tour.“There’s no noise, all you can hear is your opponent behind you. What I do is put the streaming on my TV which is behind me.
“That means it’s my normal rhythm. I turn round to watch them throw, then step forward for my throw just like I normally do. It feels more natural. I find that easier because you pace yourself.”