Cricket has increased in popularity in Britain of late, thanks in no small part to the England team’s rise to the number one spot in the world. Now, under pressure from the second placed Proteus of South Africa, they are in day two of a five-day game which will see the victor declared the best in the world.
Such occasions can draw a certain style of guest, with the likes of Stephen Fry and Mick Jagger frequenting matches. Yesterday, however, one man was causing a stir amongst the stuffed shirts and gin and tonic enthusiasts. Yesterday Yohan Blake was the guest of honor, ringing the bell to signal the start of play.
Blake has publicly talked about his love of cricket. Big among the West Indian islands, Blake grew up swinging the willow and charging down the crease to deliver fast bowls.
Yesterday, at the lunch break, Blake informed the television cameras that he was “a better cricketer than I am a runner.”
The calls came after he met one of his cricketing heroes, former fast bowler and now commentator, Michael Holding. He was asked if there was any truth to the rumors that he and Usain Bolt –another cricket lover –where to play for the Sydney Sixers in an Australian league. They would be playing the shortened, quicker, more explosive form of the game, should there be any substance to the reports.
Blake saw no reason to suggest otherwise. “It is a possibility,” the Jamaican admitted. “I would love it to come true. I have been itching to bat against Brett Lee [an Australian bowler]. I have pace with the ball and I can bowl at Michael Holding’s pace.”
Not shy of confidence at the moment, the double Olympic silver medalist would certainly draw a crowd, especially if he and Bolt were to take a bow in the Australian Big Bash Twenty20 league.
The timing of this announcement coincides with another high profile star making headlines at Lords. England batsman Kevin Pietersen (an expatriate South African) is one of the biggest names in the game, but he has recently been dropped from the England side for sending “provocative texts” to the South African side, complaining about his own captain and side.
Pietersen has apologized for his actions, but it remains to be seen if he will ever be reinstated. Meanwhile, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have taken steps to ban players from using mobile phones whilst in a test cricket environment.
Pietersen had recently spoken out about dressing room politics and some had wondered whether the big hitter would retire from international cricket to focus on his lucrative sideline in the shortened version of the game. If he does, do not be surprised if Blake and ‘KP’ meet up in some absurd sponsor-driven scheme. Pietersen is as big a name in cricket as Blake is in athletics.