• Saturday, June 15, 2024

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Usain Bolt: A fast track to T20 cricket

Usain Bolt (Photo: Getty Images)

By: Vibhuti Pathak

Usain Bolt, the legendary sprinter who clinched eight Olympic gold medals, recently disclosed his deep-seated affinity for T20 cricket, labeling it as his favorite form of the sport. Reflecting on his childhood in Jamaica, where cricket played a pivotal role, largely due to his father’s fervor for the game, Bolt revealed that he once nurtured ambitions of becoming a fast bowler. Today, he serves as the ambassador for the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup.

“I grew up on cricket. My dad was a massive cricket fan and still is. It is something that I have always in my blood,” Bolt shared in a telephonic interview from New York. “To actually get to be a part of cricket again as an ambassador, it is wonderful. I never got to live my dream of being a cricketer so to be ambassador of T20 World Cup is wonderful.”

Despite bidding farewell to sprinting in 2017, Bolt’s passion for sports remains undiminished. Amidst his hectic schedule involving music and football, he endeavors to stay abreast of T20 matches whenever feasible. “I have not been able to watch as much as I would like to but when I get time I try to catch up on T20s,” he revealed.

Bolt’s admiration for T20 cricket stems from its fast-paced nature. “T20s for sure… When they started it was a great idea and still is. It compresses the game because you have to be strong and quick but also be strategic, set a field and get things done quick. To me it combines Test match and one-day together to create the perfect game.”

In the Caribbean, T20 cricket has eclipsed the popularity of Test cricket. “I think the T20s and one dayers (ODIs) are still massive in the Caribbean. People actually don’t enjoy Test cricket that much. It is all about the speed of the game, big hitters like Andre Russell, so for me that is the direction that is going in.”

Bolt is optimistic about cricket’s potential for growth in the USA. “I surely think the game can grow in USA. When you have presence in a country people start gravitating towards it and want to know more about.”

Reflecting on his cricketing idols, Bolt fondly reminisced about Wasim Akram’s in-swinging yorkers. “Over the years, one of my favourites growing up was Wasim Akram because of the in-swinging yorker that he had. Of course, Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose, all these guys that I admired over the years, they were so dominant in their space.”

While he remains a staunch supporter of the West Indies cricket team, Bolt also expressed admiration for Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara. “Like my father, I always support the West Indies (laughs). But yes, I have also been a Sachin Tendulkar fan. He and Brian Lara were part of my life growing up. It was a great rivalry.”

Among current players, Bolt singled out Virat Kohli as the standout cricketer. “Kohli is the standout one for sure.”

In a lighthearted moment, Bolt joked about a potential race with his friend, cricketer Chris Gayle. “We have a running joke right now, me and Chris Gayle (both are close friends), he said actually he can beat me over 100 metres. We are looking to put out a race and see what happens (laughs). When it comes to speed I am the best, I don’t think there is any cricketer right now that can challenge me (laughs).”

Bolt eagerly anticipates his return to India, his last visit being in 2014, and is looking forward to the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup.

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