• Friday, June 21, 2024

CRICKET

T20 fan Usain Bolt says cricket is in his blood

Bolt, who once aspired to be a fast bowler, is now the ambassador for the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup.

Bolt prefers T20 because of its fast pace. (Photo credit: Getty Images)

By: Vivek Mishra

Usain Bolt, renowned for his speed and eight Olympic gold medals, revealed that T20 cricket is his favourite form of the sport. Growing up in Jamaica, cricket was a significant part of his life, largely due to his father’s passion for the game. Bolt, who once aspired to be a fast bowler, is now 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. 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,” Bolt said in a telephonic interview from New York on Wednesday night.

Bolt retired from his illustrious sprinting career in 2017, yet his charisma remains. Speaking about cricket, he expressed excitement as he headed to a makeshift cricket stadium in New York, one of the T20 World Cup venues, which will host the India-Pakistan match on June 9.

Although busy with travel for music and football, Bolt tries to keep up with T20 matches when he can. “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 said.

Bolt prefers T20 because of its fast pace. “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, the T20 format is particularly popular, overshadowing 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 believes cricket can grow 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.”

Growing up, Bolt watched a lot of cricket with his father. He fondly remembers 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.”

Bolt also admired 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 views Virat Kohli as the standout. “Kohli is the standout one for sure.”

When asked if any cricketer could match his speed, Bolt joked about a race with 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 looks forward to returning to India, his last visit being in 2014.

(PTI)

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