Following the fastest man on earth, Usain Bolt, declaring his keenness to be a part of a T20 League, his Jamaican compatriot and former training partner, 31-year-old Yohan Blake, too wants to jump on the bandwagon — and perhaps own a team, as well!
Blake’s illustrious career on the track was overshadowed by Bolt’s blistering runs, and though he could not win an individual gold at the Olympics, Blake won the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games gold in 4x100m relay. He, however, finished second behind Bolt at the 2012 London Olympics in both the 100 and 200m sprints, clinching silver medals.
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Deepak Anand, a First-class cricketer from South Africa who is currently part of the Power Sportz League division, which has the hosting rights of a T20 League to be played at an undisclosed destination in the Middle East soon, told IANS that he was “simply amazed” by the keenness shown by the two sprint legends from Jamaica.
“As we are putting teams together, it’s amazing to see a high interest from so many sporting legends in the T20 format. It seems like the IPL has captured the imagination of non-cricketers with cricketing talent,” he said.
Even when he was setting the athletics tracks ablaze around the world, bagging a grand double at the World Athletics Championships at Daegu — 100m and 4x100m relay gold — in 2011, Blake always kept professing his love for cricket on the sidelines.
Blake was a fast bowler at school, and it was during one of the matches that the principal observed how fast he ran between the wickets. Blake was subsequently urged to try his luck in sprints. But his desire to don the West Indies jersey and become a fast bowler remained intact even as he blazed the tracks around the globe.
“I would love to feature in franchise cricket; I would even love to own a franchise in India,” Blake told MidDay last year, indicating what exactly he wanted once he hung his sprinting shoes.
Mayank Sharma, the Sponsorship Division head at Power Sportz, told IANS that, “Global sponsors are always looking for that halo effect and so if sports properties have a product mix with community relations-oriented sponsorships, it achieves a greater halo effect because of their more positive impact on the sponsor’s brand attributes.”
Blake would have seen the rapid rise of the T20 format and the wealth the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL) has assimilated in a short span of time, and would now like to be a part of the T20 ecosystem.
For starters, the combined cost of acquiring eight IPL teams in 2008 — the year it all started — was Rs 3,000 crore. On an average it worked out to Rs 375 crore per franchise. During the recently concluded bid, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which owns the IPL property, made Rs 12,715 crore by selling just two teams. The average price tag of a team now stands at Rs 6,357 crore, a whopping 17-fold jump in just 13 years.
With the two sprint legends expressing keen interest in India’s first Live Digital Sports Channel, Power Sportz’s latest venture, it’s a matter of time before many such legends take a cue from them and become a part of the T20 League.
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When the T20 League commences, comparisons are bound to be drawn between Blake and ‘Rawalpindi Express’, Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar, the fastest bowler the world has seen. It was during the World Cup in 2003 that the right-arm Pakistan speedster clocked the fastest delivery ever — 161.3km/hr against England at Cape Town.
If Blake matches that, or even breaks the record, or if Usain Bolt runs faster than Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s 31km/hr between the wickets — the former India captain currently holds the record — it will be a historic day for international cricket.
With the two superhumanly powerful sprint legends, nothing is impossible.
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