Wed, Aug 15, 2012 - Page 18 News List

Warne pursues Bolt to play in Big Bash League

AFP, MELBOURNE, Australia

Olympic 100m champion and world record holder Usain Bolt, center, in orange, participates in a charity invitational celebrity cricket match at the Kaiser Sports Facility in St Ann, Jamaica, on Oct. 18, 2009.

Photo: AFP

Negotiations are under way for cricket-mad sprint king Usain Bolt to play in Australia’s domestic Twenty20 Big Bash League, with Shane Warne leading the campaign to bring him to Melbourne.

Bolt, hailed by International Olympic Committee boss Jacques Rogge as the greatest sprinter of all time after three gold medals in London, played junior cricket before turning to the track and has long voiced a love for the game.

He said he wanted to play and had spoken to the Australian former Test leg-spinner.

“He [Warne] contacted me and asked me about if I am serious and if I really want to do it, then he can put in a few words that should get it done,” Bolt told Australia’s Channel Nine TV late on Sunday.

“So we will see if I get the time off. I will try,” he said.

Cricket is hugely popular in the West Indies, with Bolt’s Jamaica one of its strongest teams, producing greats such as Frank Worrell, Michael Holding, Courtney Walsh and Chris Gayle.

Bolt, 25, said he particularly like the fast-paced Twenty20 concept, where each side tries to blast as many runs as possible in a maximum of 20 overs.

The format has spread around the world since it was introduced nearly a decade ago as a more exciting alternative to longer versions of the game and it is now part of virtually all international cricket tours.

“Twenty20, I love it,” said the sprinter, who describes himself as an all-rounder and told Australian media during the Olympics that he planned to holiday Down Under in September.

“Just the fact that it is so exciting, it’s about going hard the whole time, not just about playing shots. It’s about being aggressive and I like that style of batsman. If I get the chance I will definitely try because I know it’s going to be a lot of fun. I don’t know how good I am. I will probably have to get a lot of practice in,” he added.

The eight-team Big Bash League begins its second season on Dec. 7, with the final on Jan. 19 next year.

Warne, who is expected to play for the Melbourne Stars for a second season this year, has begun a social-media campaign to win support for Bolt to play with the team.

“Cats out the bag, we’ve spoken. Olympic legend @usainbolt would like to have a crack at 20/20 for the Melb stars 2012 Please retweet guys,” Warne tweeted.

“I think the Melb Stars colours suits him hahah,” he added, referring to their green and white kit. “Let’s keep the momentum going & I will keep trying to make it happen!”

He won support from fellow Australian and Hollywood superstar Russell Crowe, who tweeted: “Usain Bolt playing cricket for the Melbourne Stars?? @warne888 how amazing would that be? If you need sluggish medium pace, let me know.”

According to Australian media, Bolt clean-bowled then-West Indies captain Gayle in a charity match in 2009, having earlier hit him down the ground for six. Gayle plays for Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash League.

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