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Usain Bolt, Stars Working Out Twenty20 Cricket Role, Warne Says

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Aug. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Shane Warne was appointed as captain of the Melbourne Stars Twenty20 cricket team and said the franchise is still trying to find Olympic sprint champion Usain Bolt a role with the squad.

Warne, who came out of retirement last year to play in Australia’s inaugural Big Bash League competition, said talks with six-time Olympic gold medalist Bolt were continuing after the Jamaican expressed an interest in joining the Stars.

“We’ll have ongoing conversations with him and work out what sort of role he can play,” Warne said today at a televised news conference in Melbourne. “We hope he can come down, he’s available and all those sorts of things.”

Bolt, 26 today, played junior cricket before focusing on the track. During the London Olympics, the 6-foot-5 Bolt and training partner Yohan Blake, who took the silver medal in the 100 and 200 meters at the games, regularly bantered with Australian television reporters about their cricketing prowess.

Blake, 22, said in an Aug. 16 interview with the U.K.’s Sky Sports that there was a possibility of him joining the Sydney Sixers, the defending Big Bash League champions.

“I would love it to come true,” Blake said. “I’m a better cricketer than I am a runner.”

Organizers have been warned that the moves to enlist marquee athletes from other sports risk devaluing the competition and may hamper the development of local talent.

“We’ve got to be careful that it just doesn’t become a novelty event,” John Inverarity, Australia’s national team selector, told reporters Aug. 16.

‘Bigger Picture’

Leg-spinner Warne, who quit international cricket in 2007 with an Australian record 708 Test wickets, said Bolt’s potential involvement won’t cheapen the event.

“If you look at the bigger picture of it all, to have Usain Bolt, if he’s good enough to play a game and he wants to be with us, then that’s pretty good isn’t it?” he said. “We’ll just keep talking to him and see what we can come up with, but it’s exciting that one of the biggest superstars on the planet wants to be involved in some capacity.”

The Stars open the second edition of the Big Bash League, a six-week competition featuring 35 matches in the sport’s shortest format, on Dec. 7 against the Melbourne Renegades.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dan Baynes in Sydney at dbaynes@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net

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