Cricket-Sprint great Bolt backs big-hitting West Indies in T20


  • Cricket
  • Thursday, 16 May 2024

FILE PHOTO: Athletics - Sportsman, track and field legend Usain Bolt speaks to Reuters - Hotel Westin, Mexico City, Mexico - May 30, 2023 Usain Bolt talks during an interview REUTERS/Alberto Fajardo/file Photo

EAST MEADOW, New York (Reuters) - Eight-time Olympic champion and cricket fan Usain Bolt is backing his home team West Indies to become the first nation to win a hat-trick of T20 World Cup titles when the tournament kicks off next month.

The glory years of West Indian cricket are long gone as the team that won the first two editions of the 50-over World Cup did not even qualify for last year's tournament in India.

However, with West Indies winning a test in Australia for the first time in 27 years in January, Bolt is confident that the Caribbeans have finally left all their struggles behind.

The world's fastest man believes his team can add to their 2012 and 2016 T20 World Cup triumphs considering they will be hosting this year's tournament with the United States, and with the final taking place in Barbados on June 29.

"I'm always going to go with my home team," Bolt said on Wednesday at Nassau County International Cricket Stadium, where tournament officials offered a glimpse of the newly constructed, 34,000 seat stadium.

"Because we have some big hitters, if we get it right, then definitely West Indies (can win)."

The two-time winners begin their group campaign against Papua New Guinea on June 2 in Guyana.

While the United States appear to be unlikely hosts for a cricket competition, with the men's "Big Four" leagues of MLB, NBA, NHL and NFL dominating the sporting landscape, Bolt said American fans will be treated to an experience unlike any other.

"The energy that the cricket brings and the vibes and the noise, it's just wonderful," he said. "It's something different that you'll never see."

The world record holder in the 100 and 200 metres has shown before that he can wield both bat and ball and was ready to embrace the cricket spotlight again in New York as he hopped into selfies with elated attendees.

The venue at Eisenhower Park will host eight matches, beginning on June 3 with Sri Lanka facing South Africa.

"I finally get a chance to be a part of cricket again," said Bolt. "I'm happy that I get the opportunity to be a part of (the tournament), to promote a sport that I love."

(Reporting by Amy Tennery and Hussein Waaile in East Meadow, New York, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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