Usain Bolt open to playing in BBL
Usain Bolt has spoken of his desire to play in the Big Bash League this year, and the Melbourne Stars are keeping the door open to potentially sign him. The possibility was first raised in June when Bolt was interviewed on Australian TV by Eddie McGuire, a presenter who is also the Stars president, and the team's marquee player Shane Warne has also asked Bolt whether he was interested.
Fresh from an Olympic campaign in which he won three gold medals, Bolt said at the weekend he was still open to the idea. "He [Shane 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 said on Channel Nine.
"So we will see if I get the time off. I will try. Twenty20, I love it. 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."
One of the major issues would be whether Bolt could hold his own as a cricketer. Although he played junior cricket and famously bowled Chris Gayle in a charity match in Jamaica in 2009, facing the likes of Brett Lee and Pat Cummins would be another matter entirely.
In 2006-07, the rugby league star Andrew Johns turned out in two Big Bash matches for New South Wales in an effort to boost crowd numbers and attention for the competition, but the move backfired for the Blues. On debut, Johns batted at No.11 and was at the crease when New South Wales needed 13 from the final over to win, but his partner Simon Katich refused to put him on strike and the Blues lost.
The stakes have risen considerably since then, with the eight BBL franchises all competing not only for the trophy but also for two spots at the Champions League T20, where the winning team earns $2.5 million in prize money. Cricket Australia is cautious about the idea of Bolt playing in the BBL, declaring that the competition has moved past the "novelty factor" and that he would need to be able to play to the appropriate standard, but the Stars remain keen on the idea.
"We're going to wait until the Olympics is over and re-engage with him and his management company," Clint Cooper, the Stars CEO told the Sydney Morning Herald. "We've got a couple of spots left on our list."