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'The Beast' craves cricket - Sprint star keen on trading fast lane for spot in the middle

Published:Sunday | September 16, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Olympic silver medallist Yohan Blake bats for Bartley's X1 Kitson Town against Correctional Services in the Sherwin Williams-sponsored Social Development Commission St Catherine Twenty20 Cricket competition match at the Spanish Town Prison Oval yesterday. - Anthony Minott/Freelance Photographer

Ryon Jones, Staff Reporter

Yohan 'The Beast' Blake is perceived by many as the sprint king in waiting, with only Usain Bolt standing between him and the crown.

But while his exploits on the track are well known, as he is the reigning 100m world champion and triple Olympic medallist, his real passion lies on the cricket field.

The 23-year-old is in love with cricket and is seriously considering playing in Australia's domestic Twenty20 Big Bash League, where countryman and fellow sprinter Bolt is also said to have an interest.

"Growing up, I always wanted to bat against Brett Lee because they say that he is really quick, so I wanted to see what he is made of," Blake disclosed while speaking at a press conference on Friday at the Spanish Court Hotel.

"Usain (Bolt) and I said let's go to Australia and play some cricket; let's check out the Big Bash and see what it is all about," he noted.

"I know those guys are really quick, but I am always ready and I am always playing cricket. I have my bowling machine and my batting machine at home, so I have been practising and getting ready for that," he added.

Blake featured in his first cricket match since the Olympics yesterday, hitting a massive six that smashed the windscreen of a car on his way to scoring 20 off 21 balls while representing Bartley's XI against Correctional Services in the St Catherine Twenty20 League at the Spanish Town Prison Oval. Blake is also down to play in the Portmore Cricket League, which is set to bowl off today.

Hard training

If all goes well, the former St Jago High School man has no qualms about quitting track and field all together.

"With this hard training in track and field and I know that cricket training is not that hard and I can make the team and it is my first love, I would go to play cricket," he declared. "I want to finish this (athletics) as early as possible, so I can play my cricket; like somewhere around 30, 29, 28, in that region," he added.

Blake was last month given the honour of being the first non-cricketer to ring the bell at the 'home of cricket', Lord's, in England. He did so ahead of the start of the third Test match between England and South Africa.

Standing ovation

"To be the first non-cricketer to ring the bell at Lord's, the greatest sports ground in the world, with two top teams and get a standing ovation from the crowd, words cannot explain how I felt," he said.

One would think that Blake's management team and sponsors would be trying their best to deter their prized asset from venturing away from athletics where he is making so much money, but his manager, Cubie Seegobin, is very supportive.

"There are a lot of people trying to broker deals for him to play in the Big Bash, but there are so many options on the table, we are just taking our time and looking at everything," Seegobin shared.

"Yohan (Blake) has worked so hard since he turned pro to give everybody happiness and I have said to him personally that if he decides to go off and play for two months, I have no problem with it and nobody should have any problem with it."

He added: "Adidas is very supportive, they are sending his gears right now on the plane."

ryon.jones@gleanerjm.com