Comment & Analysis
Henderson and Wright will take on China’s Jianfeng Lu and Wenqing Liu in Thursday’s opening round; watch all four days of World Cup of Darts action from Germany on Sky Sports, starting on Thursday at 6pm on Sky Sports Arena
Last Updated: 08/09/21 12:42pm
John Henderson is hoping to draw inspiration from his Scottish skipper, Peter Wright, as he bids to grab his unexpected World Cup of Darts opportunity with both hands in Germany this week.
‘The Highlander’ will partner Wright in Jena after receiving a late call-up following the withdrawal of two-time world champion Gary Anderson, who lifted the 2019 title alongside Snakebite.
Henderson made his World Cup bow with Robert Thornton in Salzburg last year, but having crashed out in the second-round, the amiable Scot is relishing another crack at World Cup glory.
“When I got the call I was so delighted. If you wear that Scotland shirt in any sport and you’re representing your country at any level, it is a proud moment,” Henderson told the Darts Show podcast.
“I am going to go out there and enjoy it, take in the occasion because I thought last year would have been my only year.
“I have got another crack at it with another good friend of mine. Hopefully, I can learn from last year and maybe go a bit further this year, but it is so exciting and I cannot wait to get going.”
Henderson will be flying the Saltire with pride, and he is also hopeful of igniting his 2021 campaign under the stewardship of Wright, who has been something of a mentor to him.
“I know Peter very well and over the last few years he’s given me a lot of pointers, because obviously I am up here practicing on my own,” Henderson added.
“I listen to Peter quite a bit because he gives me a lot of good advice. There is a bit of added pressure as well – obviously the last time Peter played in it with Gary, they actually won it.
“He has just come off winning the Matchplay, he is the world No 2, so there is a bit of pressure.
“I don’t want to go up there and throw rubbish darts with the world No 2, but I’ve got the game to keep with him and I will listen to all the advice he is going to give me.
“He will certainly captain me that’s for sure, and I will take everything in and hopefully we can do well.”
Henderson is no stranger to the pairs format. Not only did he partner Thornton in last year’s showpiece, but he also represented Scotland on multiple occasions during his early BDO days.
‘The Highlander’ and Thornton were beaten by eventual winners Gerwyn Price and Jonny Clayton last year, as the pair led Wales to their maiden World Cup of Darts crown.
They have been riding the crest of a wave since, and while Price has lifted the coveted World Championship title to become the new world No 1, Clayton’s resurgence has arguably been more striking.
‘The Ferret’ has won two televised titles in 2021, including the Premier League title on debut, and he credited his World Cup success as the catalyst for his remarkable rise.
Henderson is dreaming of emulating Clayton’s journey, and with the irrepressible Snakebite in his corner, anything is possible.
“You noticed that with Jonny [Clayton] and Gezzy [Price] last year, that was the start of Jonny’s fantastic run and playing with Gezzy kind of helped that.
“Hopefully I can bounce off Peter this week, and hopefully that kick-starts my season, which has not been the greatest season.”
World Cup of Darts: Roll of Honour
|2020||Wales||Gerwyn Price & Jonny Clayton|
|2019||Scotland||Peter Wright & Gary Anderson|
|2018||Netherlands||Michael van Gerwen & Raymond van Barneveld|
|2017||Netherlands||Michael van Gerwen & Raymond van Barneveld|
|2016||England||Phil Taylor & Adrian Lewis|
|2015||England||Phil Taylor & Adrian Lewis|
|2014||Netherlands||Michael van Gerwen & Raymond van Barneveld|
|2013||England||Phil Taylor & Adrian Lewis|
|2012||England||Phil Taylor & Adrian Lewis|
|2010||Netherlands||Raymond van Barneveld & Co Stompe|
In truth, it’s not been the greatest few seasons for the 48-year-old, who is currently £2,000 adrift of the provisional World Championship qualification places.
His solitary televised outing came at March’s UK Open, and having been an ever-present in major tournaments, he’s faced with the prospect of relinquishing his place in the world’s top 50 if he misses out on a spot at Alexandra Palace.
“Over the last 18 months I have slipped to 44th in the world. I do believe I am a better player than that,” the Scot continued.
“Hopefully we can get back to some sort of normality, get my game back to where it was, where I want it to be and push for the top 32. That is the plan anyway. It has been hard; it really has been hard.
“I have obviously tried to lose a bit of weight and a lot of people are trying to say that the weight loss has affected my throw. I’ve got this unique rock – some people are saying: ‘You’re not rocking as much; you need to try and get that rock back’. In my head, I’m not rocking, it’s something I have never actually thought about.”
Henderson targeting return to his best…
“It is just a case of getting my throw back to where I want it to be. I do believe I am playing really well, so I don’t really have much tweaking to do.
“I am actually out of the Worlds at the moment, but my aim is to get back into the mix and qualify for that, and anything else is a bit of an added bonus.”
Darts is back on your Sky Sports screens in September when the World Cup of Darts takes place in Germany, all four days of action will be live – coverage begins on Thursday, September 9