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2018 World Matchplay in Blackpool - Behind the scenes!

Friday, 10 August 2018 14:49:37 Europe/London

In this blog, Unicorn’s Player Liaison, Matt Rankin, delivers a fascinating behind the scenes insight into the multiple dart set-ups that Gary Anderson used on his way to sealing the 2018 World Matchplay title. In the process, he reveals just how closely Unicorn work with our players day-to-day. It was quite a week for ‘The Flying Scotsman’ by the seaside!

'TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE BLACKPOOL, when all thro' the darting world, not a player was stirring, not even a Flying Scotsman; the equipment was hung by the dartboard with care, in hopes that the trophy would soon would be there.'  The opening section to my blog, sets the scene as to what was about to come over the next 10 days in the world of Unicorn and Gary Anderson!

On Friday, the eve of the 2018 World Matchplay in Blackpool, it was settled in my mind that all 10 of our competing Team Unicorn players were fixed-up with their equipment and ready to go for what is, in my opinion, the second biggest ranking event on the PDC calendar.

GaryAndersonHowever, then came a text message from Rachel (Gary Anderson’s partner) requesting some sets of his new NOIR darts, some black/white Gripper 3 stems, some black flights and if I could bring them to Blackpool. Fortunately, I managed to find some Of Gary's Black signature flights from his previous range, which were the same as his normal blue ones. I was always planning on going to Blackpool but I had yet to decide on which date, so we agreed posting them was the best option.

Our Production Director, Lee Parker, pointed up a set for Gary with his black grooved points, which we do as standard for all the sets we supply to him. I also sent a set of the darts in the packaging (straight off the shelf) as he hadn't actually seen his NOIR or World Champion darts in the new deluxe packaging as he was having a well-earned holiday with his family and missed our 2019 launch this year! Anyway, the equipment was sent, arriving in Blackpool on the Monday.

In the meantime, Gary was in first round action on the Sunday evening against Stephen Bunting, which saw him emerge victorious, winning 10-7 using his tried and tested setup - Phase 3 natural barrel, Gripper 3 Blue/White stems and his blue signature Big Wing flights.

As things transpired with results for Team Unicorn in the early stages of the event and the schedule, I decided to head up to Blackpool on the Tuesday evening, for the simple fact that we had four of our players in action on the night; Gary, Jeffrey de Zwaan, Joe Cullen and Michael Smith. It turned out to be an incredible night of action on the oche! 

I managed to see Gary before his match against Raymond van Barneveld. If you haven't been to Blackpool, the players practice area is upstairs, along with a balcony viewing area for guests and officials. I was watching Michael Smith in action when Gary beckoned me over.GANoir

''Matt! Matt! I'm using the new darts, but they've not got my points in!'' he said.

Amazingly, Gary was about to use his new NOIR darts, straight out the pack, with standard black points, with Black/White Gripper 3 stems and his old black signature flights. Grooved points are very important to Gary as his finger rests on the point before the moment of release of the dart, giving him ultimate control of where he wants to land the dart. I did remind Gary at this stage that he did in fact have a set with his grooved points, but they were back at his hotel!

I get very nervous when our players use new equipment at such big events, even if they have had two or three weeks practice beforehand. But this is Gary Anderson. With three hours on the practice board - I should fear not!

An hour or so later and Gary was trailing 5-1 to Raymond. Two hours later, I wondered why I’d bothered panicking at all. The magician that is Gary Anderson went on to record a magnificent 104.17 average to secure an 11-9 victory, winning the match in style by taking out 82 on the bullseye.

After the match, I had a long chat with Gary. He loved his new darts and the feel of the new black titanium nitride coating on the barrel. Gary normally uses a new set of darts every 4-6 weeks so, in hindsight, I guess using a new set in such a huge event was all part of The Flying Scotsman's master plan!

Thursday quickly came around and Quarter-Finals night was upon us. Gary was facing our Team Unicorn star Joe Cullen, in what turned out to be a superb encounter. As I was settling down to watch the match on TV, I received another text from Rachel letting me know that Gary had again changed his setup. NOIR darts, but this time using shorter stems, 3.2mm shorter in fact. The stems in question were NOIR Limited Edition Medium length Gripper 4 (straight out the pack) and amazingly Gary had decided to use Plus shape NOIR Ultrafly flights, smaller flights than his normal Big Wing.

The change of stem length was key because Gary wears glasses, so when he draws the dart back before release, on occasion the flight could touch them. This has the potential to hamper the flight of the dart after release, but by using the slightly shorter stems this issue has been nullified. 3.22mm may seem to the outside world like nothing at all, but in the world of professional dart players any positive change has the potential to make a huge difference and can act as a huge confidence boost on the oche.

Deluxe Presentation Box

In my opinion, the way Gary threw in the tournament from this moment on showed much more freedom and fluidity. Not only was Gary enjoying the feel of the new darts, the slightly shorter stems were beginning to pay dividends as only four legs into the match Gary nails a 9-darter and pockets a £45,000 bonus to boot. What a moment! Amazingly, (and I have the proof!) pre-match Rachel said to me via text message, that Gary fancied throwing a 9-darter.

Also, I have to add that Joe Cullen showed tremendous sportsmanship throughout and put in a performance that showcased the potential of what is to come from ‘The Rockstar’, with a place in the elite Top 16 players secured for now. Gary eventually prevailed in the match 19-17, but by his own admission missed too many darts at double, mainly at 'tops' with the dart going high of D20. By using the smaller Plus shape flights, as he did against Joe, the dart was flying through the air quicker. Reverting to his Big Wing flights for the next round would always be an option, which would allow the dart a little more drag through the air.

Semi-Finals time and Gary would take on our recent signing, Dutch sensation Jeffrey de Zwaan. Gary did in fact revert back to using Big Wing flights, which seemed to do the trick. The Flying Scotsman hit 16 maximums and averaged 106.06 along the way to a 17-12 victory. A special mention for Jeffrey, though, he was incredibly impressive in reaching his first TV Semi-Final, entering the World's Top 50 so quickly after only earning a PDC Tour card back in January this year.

Onto the final where Gary would meet Mensur Suljović, with Gary now settled on his new setup - NOIR 23g darts, NOIR Limited Edition Medium length Gripper 4 stems and Big Wing Ultrafly NOIR flights. What a final it was, one of the all-time classics. Our Team Unicorn superstar Gary, prevailing 21-19 scooping the £115,000 first prize to add to the £45,000 9-dart bonus. Not a bad week for The Flying Scotsman! - His victory also completed the PDC Triple Crown as he adds the Matchplay title to his World Championship and Premier League titles. Already this year, Gary won the UK Open title in March and was also victorious on the World Series Tour in Las Vegas. So far, so good for Gary in 2018!

More information on our full range of NOIR Player Edition darts, which form part of our new Unicorn 2019 range, can be found here: https://www.playwiththebest.com/darts/new-2019-product-range.html

0 Comments | Posted in Unicorn Darts By Jack Dinning

Gary Anderson in conversation with Stuart Pyke

Friday, 3 August 2018 10:32:32 Europe/London

Gary Anderson talks one-on-one with Styart Pyke, exclusively for Unicorn Darts. He discusses what it means to him to win the World Matchplay and, in doing so, adding to his World Championship and Premier League titles to achieve the triple crown - plus an overview of his own game, the new generation of darts players and what still keeps him motivated.

A great insight to a truly great champion.

Comments | Posted in Unicorn Darts By Alex James

Made By England's Best, Used By New Zealand's Best

Friday, 20 July 2018 14:30:39 Europe/London

PlayersCricket

In all corners of the globe, cricket fans are likely to see Gunn & Moore bats sold in cricket shops. GM bats are unmatched in quality, thanks to our storied history, astounding attention to detail and the world’s most advanced cricket bat-making facility.

All of those factored combined makes it easy to see why GM are able to sponsor players from a wide-ranging number of domestic and international teams, as players and punters alike marvel at the quality of willow that GM offer.

In New Zealand, Players Cricket has made a name for itself for being one of the leading cricket specialists in the world, let alone in their own country. The image they sent us not only showed off the incredible GM range, but also shows off their astounding appetite for providing cricket equipment at all levels of the game. It’s unfortunately an increasingly rare occurrence to find such an amazing array of bats on display, in such a wide-ranging array of models and grades, but Players Cricket is proudly bucking that trend in order to offer players everything they could possibly need.

PlayersCricket1

Players Cricket is a specialist cricket shop, online and in store, where cricketers have welcoming access to the latest in cricket products, bat workshop services and technology. Their expert cricket staff, select only the finest bats, pads, gloves, shoes, bags and helmets used by Blackcaps stars such as Ross Taylor to ensure they provide the premium and most complete cricket store experience in New Zealand. Their unique cricket bat workshop, offers state of the art craftsmanship and knocking in services to ensure all Players Cricket customers are fully catered for and prepared. One of those that continues to make full use of their GM bat is Taylor, a long standing member of Team GM, who just happens to hold the record for the most ODI centuries by a New Zealander.

The bats on display are shipped direct from the GM factory in Nottingham, where all GM bats are made in-house to be sent across the world. Astute Northern Hemisphere GM fans may even notice a bat they haven’t seen before on display. Blending over 130 years of expertise with the love of the game, all GM DXM English Willow bats are made by our own staff in our own factory in Nottingham, England. Gunn & Moore make the finest cricket bats in the World. Pick up a GM cricket bat and you will instantly know from the balance, finish and ultra-high quality presentation that this is English Design and Craftsmanship at its very finest. 

Comments | Posted in GM Cricket By Jack Dinning

Vitality Blast Round-Up 2

Tuesday, 17 July 2018 11:15:00 Europe/London

The fixtures come almost as quickly as the runs in the Vitality Blast with GM players once again providing a number of match-winning contributions all over the country this week.

GrahamClark

Graham Clark made the highest score of the week for GM, striking a boundary-laden 65, including seven 4’s and three 6’s as his Durham side beat the Birmingham Bears. Having been asked to bat first, Clark opened the batting and put on 126 for the first wicket, laying the platform for Durham to reach 220/6. Despite a partnership worth 110 for the fourth wicket, Durham’s total proved too much as Birmingham were only able to make 202/5 from their 20 overs.

A couple of days previously, Clark was again in the runs, this time his efforts were in vein as he was on the losing side against Yorkshire. Adam Lyth got his side off to a cautious start, making 17 from 19 balls, but on a tricky pitch, no player was able to take the game away from the bowlers, with the Vikings eventually making 157/6. Clark once again opened the batting and laid another terrific foundation, putting on 77 for the first wicket before Matt Fisher broke the partnership. Clark went on to make 39 before he too fell to Fisher, with the score 99/2. Unfortunately, Clark’s teammates were unable to make the most of the platform, stumbling their way to 147/6, 11 runs short of their target, with Fisher finishing with figures of 2/26.

Yorkshire made it two wins in a row against Worcester soon after, as they racked up 179/7, with Lyth making a quick-fire 21-ball 35 to get his side off to a rapid start. His teammates continued where he left off as they made their way to 179/7 from their allotted overs. Worcester’s reply saw them lose wickets in regular intervals, meaning that their innings lacked the fluency required to mount a serious challenge, even with their hard-hitting overseas batsman Travis Head in the middle order. Head managed 23 from 23 balls, but he was dismissed with the score 58/5 which left his side struggling to keep up with the run-rate as they eventually finished 12 runs short of their target.

AdamLyth

Derbyshire, meanwhile, suffered two defeats in a row this week, firstly at the hands of Nottinghamshire. Batting first, the Outlaws made 175/8 in a game reduced to 19 overs per side. The Derby innings was hampered by some fantastic bowling displays from the GM bowling cartel of Harry Gurney, Luke Fletcher and Samit Patel. Gurney finished with figures of 2/30, including the wicket of Daryn Smit who made 15 before being trapped LBW. Patel also picked up a wicket, that of Wayne Madsen who laboured to 6 from 14 balls, before he too was out LBW, to finish with figures of 1/21. Though Fletcher didn’t pick up a wicket, his fantastic economy rate of just 4.56 helped restrict the batting line-up to just 139/9 from their allotted overs.

Alex Davies marked his return to the Lancashire side with a valuable 31 at the top of the order as the Lightning faced Derbyshire at Old Trafford. His efforts, along with Dane Vilas (11) and Jordan Clark (20*) saw the home side reach 157/8. Derby’s innings didn’t get off to the start they would have liked, losing Ben Slater in the first over for 5, before Madsen entered the fray, adding 34 runs with six 4’s. His efforts were supplemented by Smit’s 28, however they were unable to get their side over the line finishing 145/7, just 12 runs short of Lancashire. Vilas rounded off his display with the bat to take three catches and a stumping in the field.

In another rain-affected match, Gloucester hosted Somerset with only 11 overs per side available. Somerset posted a competitive 114/8, including 19 runs from their captain, Lewis Gregory. However, Ian Cockbain showcased his talents with a match-winning innings of 43* from just 22 balls, including four 4’s and two 6’s, as his side chased down their target with 5 balls to spare.

Elsewhere, Essex hosted Glamorgan in what turned out to be a dramatic run-chase. Essex had first crack at batting, beginning well with Westley (26) and Ryan ten Doeschate (43) laying a solid platform. However, a spectacular batting collapse saw them slip 117/3 to 167 all out with three run outs. Glamorgan suffered a collapse of their own, but unlike Essex, they were saved by their middle order who saw them home with a 4 off the last ball of the innings.

DbD

Finally, Kent hosted Hampshire at the always high-scoring ground in Beckenham, as Kent plundered their way to 210/4, with Daniel Bell-Drummond making 46 at the top of the order before driving straight into the hands of James Vince. Hampshire’s chase couldn’t have got off to much of a worse start, as they lost 3 wickets in the first seven balls, reeling at 3/6. However, they were superb in their recovery efforts as they managed to reduce the deficit to needing 6 runs from the last ball. They were scuppered by a good Yorker, but their fightback at the end will have given them some positivity going forward in the competition.

Comments | Posted in GM Cricket By Jack Dinning

Official Europa League Match Day Ball!

Thursday, 12 July 2018 11:14:57 Europe/London

The World Cup may have come and gone for England, but Molten have something created something worth cheering about for the upcoming domestic season.

OfficialMatchBall

Last October, it was announced that Molten had become the new supplier of the Official Europa League Match Ball, and earlier this year UEFA announced that the Europa League would be undergoing a new brand identity. Now, the fruits of that labour have come to fruition.

The new ball was adapted from Molten’s flagship football model, the Vantaggio 5000. Molten’s unique thermal bonding technology produces a smooth, seamless cover and enhances shape retention whilst at the same time minimizing water absorption, resulting in an exceptional performance regardless of conditions. The dimples on the surface reduce turbulence around the ball while it is in flight, optimizing ball control when passing and shooting.

Giving special consideration to UEFA’s brand, Molten created an exclusive design for the competition’s official match ball. The UEFA Europa League’s new “energy wave” brand identity represents the journey of the clubs throughout Europe, expressing the highs and lows of the thrilling adventure. The wave has been integrated into Molten’s signature style to create a unique and exclusive design and laid out to increase visual recognition, inspired by the Europa League Trophy itself.

ReplicaBall

The trophy is the embodiment of the UEFA Europa Leagues 45 year history & the wave is directly derived from the cup taking history, fans and players on a new season’s journey. It is a physical symbol travelling around, under & above objects but not through them.

Molten have been making and marketing basketballs, handballs, soccer balls, and volleyballs, of uncompromising quality since 1958 and continues to raise global standards. Supplying the official UEFA Europa League game balls is another indication of the outstanding reputation of Molten, showcasing the superior quality and performance that Molten balls provide.

Commenting on the announcement, Guy-Laurent Epstein, marketing director of UEFA Events SA, said: "We are very excited to work with Molten as a new official match ball supplier for the UEFA Europa League. With Molten, we introduce one of the world's leading ball manufacturers to the UEFA Europa League. Their professionalism is outstanding and we are eager to see how the partnership will grow the passion and energy of the competition across the world."

Replica

Kiyo Tamiaki, president and CEO of Molten Corporation, added: "It is our great pleasure to announce our partnership with UEFA, allowing Molten's ball to be used as the official match ball in the UEFA Europa League. Molten strives to be at the cutting edge of technological innovation and is committed to helping further the growth and success of the UEFA Europa League by developing and supplying the absolute highest quality and value products for the greater football community."

The UEFA Europa League is the largest league of professional football clubs in the world and every season, over 180 professional football teams from 55 countries across Europe take part in the league games, including the preliminary round. The Europa League covers 59,000 hours of television coverage delivering a cumulative audience of nearly 1 billion people, averaging approximately 42 million live audience per match day.

The balls are now in stock with a full range of 6 models of the Europa League Match Ball, available in 3 colours, starting at just £9.95. Click HERE to see the full range.

Comments | Posted in Football Handball Futsal Indoor Football Molten By Jack Dinning

Vitality Blast Round-Up

Tuesday, 10 July 2018 16:02:29 Europe/London

This week saw the beginning of the Vitality Blast T20 competition in England. The most explosive and popular cricket tournament in England kicked off in fine fashion with a number of GM batsmen racking up early runs.

BenDuckett

The warm weather, flat pitches and fast outfields meant that quick runs were on the menu, typified by Northants batsman Ben Duckett who kicked off his campaign with a blistering 96, his highest score in the format, against Leicestershire. His innings came complete with 12 fours and 3 sixes before he was caught in the last over, as his efforts guided his side to 218/3. Incredibly, Duckett’s remarkable innings wasn’t enough, however, as Leicestershire’s batsmen all made fast starts to their innings to ensure they stayed up with the run-rate, before a thrilling finish saw them get over the line with two balls to spare.

Duckett continued his fine form just two days later as the Steelbacks hosted Nottinghamshire. The Outlaws batted first and posted an intimidating 219/6 from their 20 overs, with Samit Patel contributing 35 from 26 balls. Unfortunately, Northants were unable to match their efforts against Leicester as Duckett received little support on his way to 88, thrashing 13 boundaries, including 4 sixes. His wicket at 123/5 sparked a collapse in which they lost the final five wickets in under 5 overs to finish 161 all out with 2.3 overs to go, thanks largely to the efforts of Harry Gurney (3/30) and Luke Fletcher (3/21).

SamitPatel

Notts carried their strong performance into their next match against Leicester, with Patel’s 52 proving crucial as his side reached 199/8 from their allotted overs. Despite some lusty blows at the top of the order, Notts’ bowling attack proved too strong for the Foxes. Gurney, though wicketless, went at only 6 an over whilst Patel (1/19) and Fletcher (2/36) picked up crucial wickets to restrict Leicester to 180/9, 20 runs short of their target.

In another high-scoring affair, Yorkshire hosted Durham who saw the return of Ben Stokes as he returned from a hamstring injury. The Vikings were asked to bat first, and despite losing a wicket in the second over were able to rely on Adam Lyth who proved to be the glue holding the innings together, plundering 92* from 54 balls as he helped his side reach 200/3.

Yorkshire’s next match against the Birmingham Bears proved a much sterner test. Once again the Vikings batted first, this time however Lyth was unable to recreate the heroics of their first match, dismissed second ball without scoring. With their opener back in the pavilion, Yorkshire struggled to just 157/7.

AdamLyth

The Bears kicked their innings off by smashing 33 runs off the first over from Matt Fisher, which set the platform for Adam Hose to see his side home, making 51* from 33 balls as his side chased the target down with over 4 overs to spare.The reply was hampered by early wickets, but similarly to Lyth, Stokes held the innings together, finishing 90* in an innings which featured 5 sixes. However, he received very little support from his teammates as Durham whimpered to 156/4 from their 20 overs to give Yorkshire a comfortable start to the competition.

Elsewhere, Derbyshire hosted Lancashire in a comparatively low-scoring match. Having lost the toss, Derby got off to bad start, losing Ben Slater to a run out in the first over. Another wicket followed shortly afterwards, but Wayne Madsen ensured his side reached a competitive 161/4, finishing 76*. In the end, it proved to be nowhere near enough as Alex Davies and his opening partner put on 160 in 14.2 overs, losing a wicket just two runs short of the target. One ball later, the match was finished with Davies making an unbeaten 50 from 35 balls.

Lancashire made it two wins in a row a few days later when they hosted Northants who were hoping for their first win of the competition. Batting first, Levi and Duckett opened the batting for the Steelbacks but Duckett soon found himself walking back to the pavilion, caught by Dane Vilas for 10. Levi was the next man to go, but he had 40 to his name before he was caught and bowled by Jordan Clark in his only over of the innings. The rest of the Northants batting lineup struggled to get going as they slipped from 62/2 to 123/9. Lancashire’s reply got off to a poor start, losing their captain in the first over, however Alex Davies played superbly to once again make a half-century, finishing 64* as his side cruised to victory with 23 balls to spare, losing just one more wicket in the process.DbD

The final standout performance of the came from Kent’s opening batsman Daniel Bell-Drummond who struck 58 in his side’s successful chase. Somerset’s innings struggled to get going, losing three early wickets, before some middle order resistance helped them reach 159/6. Kent, in reply, whacked their way to their target with 21 balls remaining, thanks largely to Bell-Drummond, who struck four 4’s and two 6’s on course to a 101-run partnership for the second wicket.

 

Comments | Posted in GM Cricket By Jack Dinning

2019 Unicorn Launch

Tuesday, 3 July 2018 09:11:50 Europe/London

Arrival

Every year, Unicorn unveil the latest in cutting edge darts technology, having been at the forefront of darts innovation for over 80 years. The 2019 product launch was no different.

Despite forewarning FIFA that a far more important and prestigious event was taking place on the same day as the World Cup’s opening match, it seems as though the message fell on deaf ears.

Nonetheless, Sales Director Richard Lowy began the day with a short presentation in the theme of the World Cup to thank everyone for attending. The presentation highlighted the global reach of darts, demonstrated just by those in attendance, with trade partners and players coming from across the world to see the latest Unicorn offerings.

As usual, the launch was attended by a number of Unicorn players including Jelle Klaasen, James Wade, Joe Cullen, Kyle Anderson, Kim Huybrechts, Michael Smith, Ian White, Keegan Brown, Dmitri van den Bergh and Unicorn’s latest signing, Jeffrey de Zwaan.

The afternoon was punctuated by a game of 47 (or 87 for the pros), a game so simple even the pros struggled. 3 darts, get as close as you can to 47, no need for a double. It sounds easy, but with the watchful eyes from a crowd full of darts aficionados, I can assure you a dart board has never looked so small.

Range

With the chance to win best male, female and member of staff up for grabs, the audience came alive. Unfortunately in my case, effort seemed to far outweigh talent. I don’t see an appearance at Alexandra Palace in my future (or wildest dreams for that matter). Thankfully, some order was restored with the pros game of 87, with the players buoyed by the thought of bettering one another. In front of a raucous audience, led by Managing Director Edward Lowy’s chants of ‘stand up if you love the darts’ (disclaimer: that last part may not be true), it came down to a tense play-off match with rising star Dimitri van den Bergh emerging victorious, winning arguably the most important trophy in darts.

Though the chanting may not have happened, what is true, however, is that Unicorn has been ‘The Big Name In Darts’ since 1937 and continues to be exposed globally on TV for more than 6,000 hours each year. It’s easy to see why when you look at how this year’s range continues to lead the way for others to follow with their innovative designs and staggering attention to detail.

The star of the show this year was the introduction of the ‘Noir’ range. The Noir is a range of darts that epitomises class and style, complete with laser engraved player signatures and the Unicorn hallmark. Unicorn prides itself on making available to the public the exact same dart that your favourite players use, a trend that continues across the board with each Player Edition dart sets in the 2019 range.

PresentationBox

The unveiling of the Noir range was complimented with a matching range of ‘Natural’ darts which, when presented by Richard Lowy, was suitably supported by Michael Jackson’s song ‘Black or White’.

There was also much excitement this year with the official unveiling of Seigo Asada’s brand new set of Unicorn darts, both Soft and Steel Tip. Asada is Japan’s No.1 soft-tip player and already a superstar in his homeland. This year, he announced himself on the world stage with an impressive performance in the 2018 PDC World Cup of Darts. Known as ‘The Ninja’, he won the Japanese Championship for a 4th consecutive year to earn his spot at the World Championship.

In addition to the darts themselves, customers will also receive a stunning Deluxe Player Edition Presentation Box for both the Natural and the Noir range of Gary Anderson’s World Champion Phase 3 darts, Jelle Klaasen’s World Champion darts and Seigo Asada’s Maestro darts. The Presentation Box is available with both the Steel Tip and Soft Tip versions of the aforementioned sets of darts. Presentation Boxes are also sold with the Noir Range of darts used by James Wade, Michael Smith and Kim Huybrechts, all of which contain information about the dart itself and the player who uses it.

FlightsUnicorn’s extensive range of flights has grown larger this year with the introduction of ‘ULTRAFLY’. Utilising cutting edge materials and manufacturing, Unicorn have created their most visually stunning and durable flights ever.

In addition to the current range, there are four brand new player flights; Gary Anderson, Jelle Klaasen, Seigo Asada and Joe Cullen, three versions of the Noir flights, four versions of the Origins flights, four Icon flights and four Silver Comet flights, which pays homage to the Godfather of all darts, the 1937 Silver Comet.

Also unveiled were a number of accessories, including three brand new shirts to be worn by Jelle Klaasen, Joe Cullen and Devon Petersen. Klaasen’s more subtle ‘ultra-light breathable lycra/polyester blend’ was a personal highlight, but the louder, brasher shirts worn by Cullen and Petersen are impossible to overlook. This year, Petersen has evolved from the Spartan Warrior to the African Warrior which is certainly reflected in his new shirt.

SliderCaseAnother highlight was the Slider Dart Case which features a brand new design, able to fit 4 lengths of darts, fits any size flights and slides to fit the length of your darts. It is also available in three designs, Gary Anderson, Seigo Asada and Clear whilst remaining small enough to fit in your pocket.

Jeffrey de Zwaan is a fantastic new addition to Unicorn, but unfortunately he signed the dotted line too close to the launch date to have his range of darts made available having only joined in May. Make sure you follow Unicorn on social media to hear news of when his very own dart will be available to purchase.

2019 not only promises to be an important year for Unicorn, it promises to be a marquee year for the PDC who have announced that the World Championship will grow to include 96 competitors, giving Unicorn another chance to shine on the world stage, with every dart thrown live on SKY TV and terrestrial channels using the HD2 Pro Edition dartboards.

So why choose Unicorn? Well if you’re still undecided it might help to be reminded that Unicorn Players using Unicorn darts have won more World Championships than any other brand - 20 and counting! Unicorn also invest back into the sport with the PDC Unicorn Challenge Tour, Development Tour, Youth World Championships and Unicorn Next Generation, creating aspirational opportunities for tomorrow’s stars.


Twitter - @UnicornDarts

Instagram - @OfficialUnicornDarts

Facebook - Unicorn Darts

Comments | Posted in Unicorn Darts By Jack Dinning

RLODC Final

Monday, 2 July 2018 14:53:07 Europe/London

The Royal London One Day Cup Final always has a special place in the English cricket calendar. The marquee final takes Place at Lords every year, showcasing the finest talent the County game has to offer.

JamesVince

This year, James Vince’s Hampshire side faced Kent with both teams desperate to end their respective trophy droughts. It was Kent who won the toss and elected to field first, more on the notion that they prefer to chase than anything the pitch or weather suggested.

However, Hampshire proceeded to post a record total for an English domestic one-day final, thanks largely to Rilee Roussow’s 125. Hampshire’s superb opening partnership of 136 between Roussow and Tom Alsop had their fans dreaming of 400 and even after Alsop’s dismissal, James Vince’s arrival to the crease would have done little to brighten Kent’s day. As it turned out, however, the damage was done by Sam Northeast, Kent’s captain last year who moved to Hampshire to boost his credentials to play for England, rather than Vince who made 23 from 24 balls before he was caught at long-on.

Northeast’s arrival at 193/2, with 20 overs to go, meant that they were afforded the luxury of throwing caution to the wind, hoping to mirror England’s efforts at Trent Bridge a couple of weeks previously. However, when Roussow was eventually dismissed for a fantastic 125, his departure sparked somewhat of a collapse, as Hampshire slipped from 270-3 to 297-6 in under 5 overs including the wicket of Lewis McManus for 6. Unlike his teammates, Northeast remained steadfast to finish the innings 75*, with Hampshire reaching 330/7.

Kent’s reply saw GM’s Daniel Bell-Drummond open the batting with the competition’s top run-scorer Heino Kuhn. Kuhn had scored hundreds in his previous two matches in the 50-over format to get Kent to the final, however, his astounding run of form was suddenly halted when he ran himself out for 32.

DBD

 

His replacement, Joe Denly, struggled to get going before he was caught by Vince for 12 from 23 balls. Fellow GM batsman Sean Dickson looked to support Bell-Drummond, but he too struggled to keep up with the run-rate before losing his wicket. His 30 runs from 41 balls got Kent to 158/3, but the wicket of Bell-Drummond for a superb 86 shortly afterwards in the 35th over seemed to seal Kent’s fate.

The win clinched Hampshire’s first Royal London One Day Cup title and their first One Day trophy since 2012. Kent on the other hand haven’t won a One Day trophy in 40 years despite this being their eighth appearance in a final, their last victory came in the 1978 B&H final.Captain Sam Billings attempted to kick-start their innings, but he was unable to find anyone willing to stick around with him. This was made particularly difficult by three more run outs, even more so when the last six batsman combine for just 26 runs. In the end, Billings was the last man out for well-compiled 75 but his side only managed 269, 61 runs short of their target.

Comments | Posted in GM Cricket By Jack Dinning

GM's County Round-Up 8

Friday, 29 June 2018 16:31:57 Europe/London

This week saw the County Championship move past the halfway mark of the season with the last round of fixtures before the Vitality Blast T20 tournament beginning. It was an extremely important week for England hopefuls, with only one more round of matches before the first Test Match against India in August.

JamesVince

At Old Trafford, a high-scoring draw between Lancashire and Hampshire featured a trio of GM hundreds. The first of which was awarded to Hampshire captain James Vince who won the toss and elected to make first use of an excellent batting track.

As usual the free-flowing Vince did not disappoint, hitting boundaries with ease to bring up his second County Championship hundred of the year, moving past the 600-run mark for the in the process. Vince made 103, including 15 fours and a six, before losing his wicket with the score 187/3. Some middle and lower order resistance allowed his side to eventually reach 451 all out, despite Kyle Abbott’s three wickets.

Lancashire’s reply got off to a tricky start, reaching 70 for the loss of three wickets. However, Alex Davies remained stoic at the top of the order when he was joined by Dane Vilas, the two proceeded to add 138 runs for the fourth wicket, with Davies reaching his first Championship hundred of the year. Davies eventually fell for 115, but Vilas was ably supported by the all-rounder Jordan Clark as he reached his second ton of the year in a partnership worth 112. The score line read 320/5 when Vilas was eventually dismissed for a terrific 134. Clark, however, quickly began to run out of partners, before he was run out by Vince for 82. Two balls later the Lancashire innings was over, finishing 411 all out, 40 runs behind.AlexDavies

That left just a day in the match to force a result, however the pitch proved too good for any dramatic collapses, despite Clark’s efforts of 2/18. The draw means that both sides may be forced in a relegation battle as the two sides below them in the table have a game in hand.

An even higher-scoring match took place in Chelmsford as Essex hosted Somerset in a day/night game. Essex batted first and racked-up an enormous total of 517/5d thanks in no small part to Ryan ten Doeschate’s 173*, including a partnership worth 294. Dom Bess bowled a marathon spell of 35 overs on the trot (49 in total) to take 2/132, whilst Lewis Gregory toiled away to remove Tom Westley for 21.

The Somerset innings, whilst not featuring anything like the mammoth innings from ten Doeschate, was punctuated by a series of starts and 50’s, with nobody in the top six making less than 39. George Bartlett contributed 42 runs batting at number three, whilst Gregory and Bess provided some lower order resistance, making 22 and 35 respectively as Somerset finished 407 all out.

Essex’s second innings got off to a terrible start, losing Westley in the second over, and Gregory picking up a wicket just seven balls later to leave the hosts 1/2. Essex spent most of the morning on day 4 consolidating the early wickets, eventually declaring on 208/7d, with Bess picking up 3/81.Tendo

That left Somerset needing 319 from 50 overs, which at 64/1 after 10.2 overs looked rather doable. However, a flurry of wickets meant that they slipped to 116/5, forcing attention to turn from chasing a win to securing a draw. Gregory batted with superb concentration to help his captain guide his side to safety, finishing 15* from 90 balls.

The only result in Division One came from Scarborough as Yorkshire hosted high-flying Surrey. Yorkshire batted first but lost Alex Lees in just the second over. Adam Lyth followed in the twentieth over but by that point had 42 runs of Yorkshire's 51 to his name. A succession of middle order wickets suggested they might post a score well under-par, but their lower order allowed Yorkshire to reach 342 all out.

Rory Burns continued his outstanding season by making 59 at the top of the order, but bar Ollie Pope – who finished 69* - Surrey’s collapse at the end of the innings meant that they finished 75 runs behind Yorkshire, 267 all out.

Yorkshire would have been hoping to press home their advantage, but once again lost Lees early and Lyth shortly afterwards to leave them 8/1 in under five overs. The collapse didn’t stop there, however, as Surrey raced through the hosts batsmen to leave them reeling on 70/6. Despite the bowlers chipping in with some valuable runs, eventually Yorkshire finished 152 all out, a lead of 227.

Burns was the mainstay of Surrey's second innings but he fell agonisingly close to a third hundred of the season, caught by Lees for 97. However, the platform he laid down proved enough to get Surrey over the line as they finished 229/3 to extend their lead at the top of the table.

The final game in Division One took place at Trent Bridge as Nottinghamshire hosted Worcestershire. Notts surrendered their place at the top of Division One to Surrey a couple of rounds ago and were looking to close the gap, particularly as Surrey have a game in hand.

Worcester elected to field first, a decision they may have been ruing as they were unable to make a breakthrough until the 50th over. At 164/1, Samit Patel strolled out to the middle hoping to kick-start his Championship campaign, which he duly did by making his highest score of the season, making 76 before being bowled. Patel was involved in a partnership worth 146, but his wicket sparked a collapse of 4 wickets for just two runs. Normal order was resumed shortly afterwards though and the home side were afforded the luxury of declaring on 499/9.

With plenty of runs on the board, the Notts bowlers were set loose on a Worcester sided rooted firmly at the bottom of the table. Harry Gurney did the early lifting, removing both openers after a solid start before Luke Fletcher got in on the act, picking up numbers three and four. A further two wickets from Gurney meant he finished with figures of 4/97 to restrict Worcester to just 287 all out, with Fletcher finishing with 2/54.

Notts decided against enforcing the follow-on, hoping to quickly set Worcester a target whilst leaving enough time in the game to force a result. They did the first part of the equation well enough, scoring at 4.5 runs an over to reach 249/4d, with Patel making 71, to set Worcester an improbably 461 runs to win.

Once again, Gurney took the first wicket but unlike in the first innings, the middle order held steadfast to frustrate and deny Notts from breaking through. Gurney finished with figures of 3/91 and Fletcher 3/54 but even 115 overs wasn’t enough to secure victory as Worcester batted out the entirety of day 4 to finish 368/8, earning somewhat of an unlikely draw.

TrottTwitter

In Division Two, Warwickshire continued their run of form with a convincing win against Durham at Chester-le-Street. Bating first, Jonathan Trott entered the fray with the innings precariously placed at 52/2. Trott looked in supreme control throughout his innings to finish with a superb 170*, his first hundred of the campaign, as his side 

Durham’s reply got off to a good start, with Cameron Steel reaching his second fifty of the year, but two quick wickets for two runs stifled the early good work as the innings repeatedly stopped and started as the hosts struggled their way to 297 all out.finished 424 all out.

Another 53 runs from Trott in the second innings allowed his side to declare on 185/9, setting Durham a target of 313 to win. Steel was unable to re-create his efforts in the first innings, this time falling in the sixth over as Durham stumbled throughout, but despite some fireworks from their bowlers, they were only able to reach 226 all out .

Duckett

In Cardiff, Ben Duckett’s first hundred of the year saw Northants leapfrog Glamorgan to eighth in the table. Batting first, Northants reached 281 all out thanks to their middle order digging them out of early trouble.

Glamorgan’s first innings saw them reach 254 all out, despite Nathan Buck’s 3/77, but the real turning point in the match was Duckett’s blistering 133 from 154 balls, including 22 boundaries, in Northant’s second innings. His efforts allowed his side to declare on 406/9, setting Glamorgan an unlikely target of 434. Nathan Buck took another two wickets, including the 200th of his career, as Northants ripped through Glamorgan to bowl them out for 200.

Elsewhere, Derbyshire hosted Leicestershire in a mid-table clash with both sides looking to remain within touching distance of the leaders. Having been asked to bat first, Billy Slater (46) and Wayne Madsen (80), who passed 14,000 runs in all forms of cricket along the way, were the star performers as Derby struggled their way to 245 all out.

Despite a fantastic start to their reply, Leicestershire came up against a fired up Duanne Olivier and Hardus Viljoen who restricted the visitors’ from 105/1 to 297 all out. Olivier picked up 2/85 whilst Viljoen took 3/59.

However, the game was lost in the second innings as Derby’s top order were reduced to 47/4 inside twenty overs. Only two batsman passed 13 runs for the home side as they were bowled out for 184. Chasing only 133, Olivier (2/37) and Viljoen (2/48) once again did their best to drag their side into the game, however they received little support as Leicester chased the total down in less than thirty overs.

Comments | Posted in GM Cricket By Jack Dinning

GM's County Round-Up 7

Tuesday, 26 June 2018 09:21:26 Europe/London

In the background of England’s record-breaking series against Australia, the County Championship continued this week as we reached the halfway mark of the season.

With English players eyeing the upcoming series against India in August, those in the squad looked to find some form, whilst those on the fringes looked to bank as much cricket currency they could muster to force their way into the squad.

A couple of those looking to make a name for themselves are the Surrey duo of Rory Burns and Ollie Pope. Burns in particular has been in the England opening batsman conversation for the last couple of years thanks to some remarkably consistent run-scoring, passing 1,000 runs for the past 4 seasons and was the first man this year to pass the 500 mark before the start of Surrey’s match against Somerset this week.

OlliePope

Burns, having been asked to bat, continued his rich vein of form by reaching his first 50 of the competition to go along with his two hundreds in the earlier rounds of the season. When he was dismissed for 66, his Surrey side had already passed 150 for the loss of just two wickets.

By the time Pope came to the crease Surrey were 247/4 and looking to press home the advantage that Burns & co had given them in the early going. 20-year-old Pope continued the outstanding start to his career by notching his third hundred of the season, the fourth in his career, to overtake Burns as the leading batsman in Division One. Pope made 117 from 134 balls, including 19 boundaries to help Surrey reach their highest score of the season, finishing 459 all out.

Despite a solid a start from Somerset’s batsmen, a spectacular spell of 6 wickets in 3.5 overs from Ryan Patel ensured that Somerset were bowled out for 180. They were asked to follow-on and began cautiously before a top-order collapse saw them slip to 69/5, with only their stalwart James Hildreth providing any resistance. Somerset were eventually dismissed for 210 to give Surrey a victory margin of an innings and 68 runs, with more than four sessions in the match to spare.

It is the first time since 1958 that Surrey have won three games in succession by an innings and they went on to win the Championship that season as well and Surrey have now opened up a 13-point gap at the top of Division One, with a game in hand.

In Chelmsford, Nottinghamshire headed to Essex looking to make up for the last couple of results that saw them lose their spot at the top of the table to Surrey after a fast start. Having chosen to bat first, Notts were shown the way by New Zealand batsman Ross Taylor who made a brilliant 146 of his side’s first innings total of 380.

Without star bowler Jake Ball, who was away on England duty, Notts looked to the experienced duo of Luke Fletcher and Harry Gurney to deny the defending champions from leapfrogging them in the table. Fletcher responded immediately, picking up two early wickets to leave Essex reeling on 26/3, with Gurney then chipping in with the ever-crucial wicket of Alistair Cook following a re-building partnership worth 54 runs.RossTaylor

Fletcher picked up a couple more wickets in the middle order to finish with 4/43. Essex meanwhile finished 206 all out, 174 runs behind the visitors. Slightly surprisingly, Notts declined to enforce the follow-on, instead electing to press home their advantage and put the game beyond doubt. Despite a less than ideal start, Notts eventually found their way to 266 all out, to leave the equation as 411 runs needed from 131 overs.

Essex’s chase got off to a terrible start, losing 3 wickets in 11 overs and a further one off the bowling of Samit Patel at the end of day three to leave the hosts 88/4. Notts required just the morning session of day 4 to race through Essex’s middle and lower order, with Patel, Fletcher and Gurney taking 2 wickets apiece in the innings to secure a comfortable victory.

Elsewhere, Worcestershire claimed their first win of the season against fellow strugglers Lancashire in a bottom of the table clash. Asked to bat first, Worcester were in trouble early having slipped to 81/5 before some middle order resistance saw them reach 247 all out, despite Jordan Clark picking up career-best figures of 4/43.

Lancashire’s reply was almost Worcester’s in reverse as they got off to a good start before slipping from 77/1 to 112/8 in 16 overs, eventually finishing 130 all out. Alex Davies made 43 at the top of the order, but his wicket signalled the start of Lancashire’s dramatic collapse.

Worcester made amends in their second innings, posting 484/7d, 62 of which came from Tom Fell, as they scored freely to ensure plenty of time in which to force a result. Once again, Jordan Clark was the pick of the bowlers, taking 3/96.

Chasing a near impossible target of 602, Davies once again struck the ball with typical ease to race to 64, 56 of which came in boundaries. Though his dismissal didn’t spark a collapse akin to the first innings, his teammates lost their wickets regularly after getting a start, meaning that though there was hope, the reality of the situation became ever clearer as they were eventually dismissed for 399, a loss by 202 runs.

The final match in Division One saw Hampshire take on Yorkshire in a high-scoring day/night match in Southampton. Yorkshire batted first and posted 350 all out, with Kyle Abbott picking up a wicket to wrap up the innings.

Hampshire’s reply was aided by contributions of 35 runs apiece for James Vince and Abbott, but significant partnerships in the middle of the innings allowed Hampshire to reach 443 all out. Adam Lyth picked up the wicket of fellow GM player Abbott, finishing with 1/54.

Unfortunately there wasn’t enough time left in the match for a result as Yorkshire batted for all of the final day to secure a hard-fought draw.

SeanDickson

In Division Two, Sean Dickson continued his terrific run of form to score his second First Class hundred in as many matches as his Kent side took on high-flyers Warwickshire. On a pitch that seemed to get much easier as the game went on, Kent were bowled out for 197 in the first innings, before rolling through Warwickshire top order to leave them 61/7. Jonathan Trott provided the only real resistance of note, eventually finishing 51* in a total of 125, on a day where all 20 wickets fell.

Dickson’s second innings effort surpassed Yorkshire’s entire total as he scored a fantastic 133, including a 208-run partnership for the third wicket. Kent eventually declared on 446/8, setting Warwickshire a target of 519. A huge second wicket partnership saw The Bears reach 304/2, but after both centurions were dismissed, Kent continued to chip away with Warwickshire eventually falling short by just 73 runs.

In a thrilling match between Middlesex and Leicester, Dawid Malan’s side emerged victorious after chasing down the target of 381 with one wicket remaining and only 6.3 overs left in the match. After dismissing Leicester for 427, Malan himself made the most significant contribution in their first innings as he made a defiant 78* before his side slipped to 233 all out.

However, Middlesex’s bowlers did a fantastic job of restricting Leicester to just 186 all out, swinging the momentum of the match in their favour for the first time. Despite losing a wicket on just the third ball of the innings, they began to stubbornly rebuild enough to keep the chase in check, with the Middlesex bowlers able to knock the remaining runs off.

In Swansea, Derbyshire travelled to Glamorgan with both sides hoping to kick-start their campaign. The home side batted first and struggled their way to 283 all out, thanks largely to Andrew Salter’s 72*, his 8th First Class 50.

In reply, Derbyshire reached 90 for the first wicket, but lost opening batsman Billy Slater for 52 just one run later. Salter showed off his all-round ability by taking 4/105 in the innings to restrict Derby to 362 all out, which at 265/5 could have been far worse.

The home side made amends in their second innings, racking up 403/7d in just 82 overs, setting Derby a target of 325 runs in 63 overs. Derby’s chase was hampered with early wickets, meaning that in the end all they could do was scrap for a draw, eventually finishing 147/8 to share the points.

Finally, the exciting talent of Ben Duckett, who to this point has battled with indifferent form, showed why he earned a Test Match call-up a couple of years ago by playing some typically entertaining innings to set up an invaluable win for struggling Northants.

In the first innings, Duckett made 52 in 54 balls to get his side off to an electric start. Unfortunately his teammates were unable to keep the momentum going, slipping from 99/1 to 282 all out. Their bowlers, however, were able to race through Gloucestershire, bowling them out for just 62 in under 32 overs, allowing them to enforce the follow-on.

Gloucester were once again unable to mount much of a fightback, but did manage to get a lead in the match, but losing 3 wickets for 0 runs meant that they could only muster a lead of 30. Duckett was clearly in a rush, as he chased the target down by himself, finishing 32* in just 18 balls.

Comments | Posted in GM Cricket By Jack Dinning
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