Op-Ed: Usain Bolt and Cricket
By David Rowe
Usain Bolt is without question the dominant track and field star of the modern era.
His athletic prowess combined with his indomitable confidence has catapulted him into international stardom. With stardom comes great public adulation.
No international sport fan can say they have not heard of Jamaica now, and many who at first associated the island with reggae, rum and ganja now have another frame of reference.
The 2012 London Olympics have crowned Bolt the emperor of the sprints. Bolt frequently suggests that he would be as good a cricketer or football player as he is a track and field athlete. Bolt has such enormous credibility that if he claims to be able to fly over the Caribbean, one would have to take him seriously.
The press suggests that Bolt thinks he could be a good fast bowler. Some cricket purists have raised their eyebrows. Without a doubt, his incredible speed and formidable height would make him a serious threat to batsmen.
His discipline and obvious strength would make him a very good fielder and batsman. Would he have the patience for a test match? Does he have the mental strength to bowl 20 overs or to bat for two days?
Cricket does not compensate the successful cricketer as spectacularly as high-level does track and field athletics. Mr Bolt can earn £150,000 for one Diamond League appearance. It will take several test match appearances before Bolt will be able earn the same from cricket.
In athletics, Bolt is an individual performer who dominates without having to work with other teammates. His personal reserves of determination are considerable. In cricket he would have to subject his singular personality to team objectives. His charismatic hand gestures might not be as welcomed at Lord’s as they are at the Olympic stadium in London.
Bolt also expresses that he would be able to play football for Manchester United; I have some doubts on that score. A kick or two from aggressive full backs might dissuade him from selecting football as a career. The Brazilian Pele has declared that Bolt is to athletics what he Pele is to soccer. Pele may be correct on that score.
Bolt thinks that he can bowl at 90 mph, and his Olympic competitor and compatriot Yohan Blake has apparently bowled effectively in schoolboy matches in Jamaica.
Maybe we will see them playing cricket in Australia soon. I hope that Bolt remembers how important he is to the Jamaican and Caribbean community if he does in fact succeed in playing cricket. His name is equivalent to excellence.
Bolt may wish to challenge the long jump like his predecessor Jesse Owens, or to try the 400 meters. I believe he would dominate both events because he is a talented and accomplished athlete.
Regardless, Jamaicans everywhere can be proud of Usain Bolt. He is a national — and international — asset. He need not worry himself about the deflated Carl Lewis — the two individuals are not in the same class.
David P Rowe is an attorney in Jamaica and Florida and a law professor at the University of Miami School of Law in Coral Gables, Fla.
Note: the opinions expressed in Caribbean Journal Op-Eds are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Caribbean Journal.