Usain Bolt A-League deal: cross-code athletes, Ricky Ponting golf, Steve Waugh
OK — Usain Bolt might not be the next Pele. But he’s having a crack. So ROBERT CRADDOCK asks what would’ve happened if some of Australia’s greatest had done the same thing and jumped way out of their comfort zone?
ROBERT CRADDOCKThe Courier-MailJuly 21, 201811:36am
Cahill: Bolt must prove he can play1:55
Football: Tim Cahill has his say on speculation that Usain Bolt will sign for the Central Coast Mariners in the A-League.
- July 20th 2018
- a month ago
- /display/newscorpaustralia.com/Web/NewsNetwork/Sport news and galleries/Football/
USAIN BOLT may not be the next Pele but he has certainly got us thinking.
To suggest Bolt could leap into the A-League and be a success without having played serious senior football is like suggesting you could win MasterChef without ever having previously turned on a hotplate.
It doesn’t mean he lacks the skills to cut it, just that when you start as late as he did you just don’t have the time to catch up.
GIMMICK OR GUN? Seven athletes who jumped ship
EXCLUSIVE: Usain Bolt’s stunning A-League move
It doesn’t happen much and is barely ever successful.
But wouldn’t it be fun if a sportsman could have two lives and be able to rewind their body clock and start again in a different trade.
Here are 10 elite stars we would have loved to have seen having a crack in a different code.
Ponting’s father was a scratch golfer at 14 and wanted to be a professional before fatherhood intervened. At times it seemed cricket was Ricky’s business but golf was his passion. He used to take a putter on tour. Players who dropped in to his room at odd hours would often find him watching the PGA golf in America. When Gary Player had a social round with Ponting he said “you chose the wrong sport mate”.
The cricket great played junior soccer for NSW and was a teammate of former Socceroo Robbie Slater. Commentating legend Johnny Warren once wrote in The Sydney Morning Herald: “I have not seen a better goal this year than the one scored by East Hills High School’s Stephen Waugh in the Commonwealth Bank Cup … it was a goal of which the legendary Franz Beckenbauer would have been proud.”
Rugby league, AFL or swimming … take your pick. Big Bash sensation Lynn was one of the best young sportsmen Queensland has ever produced. He was captain of both the under-12 Queensland cricket and rugby league teams where a teammate in both was Broncos hooker Andrew McCullough. Rugby league remains close to his heart.
The Broncos flyer is one of the game’s most devastating speed merchants and no lesser judge than Olympic sprinter Matt Shirvington believes Roberts is the league player most suited to chasing five ring glory. “He just stands out,’’ Shirvington said recently. “He has a great technique and plenty of natural speed.’’
His boyhood hero was Pete Sampras and he grew up wanting to be a professional tennis player. At 14 he was offered the chance to come to Brisbane and further his tennis career but cricket intervened and he became, at his best, a withering, if hot and cold, fast bowling enforcer.
He may well have been the fastest bowler of all time but his sporting talents were not restricted to cricket. Naturally athletic Thomson succeeded at a wide variety of junior sports to the point where Greg Chappell once said of him “England’s Daley Thompson was regarded as the best decathlete in the world. I reckon if Thommo had tried athletics the Thompson name would still have been top of the pile but it would have been Jeff not Daley.’’
Before he was an AFL superstar, Brown was a powerful left-arm fast bowler. During a visit to the Gabba he once spotted his hero Wasim Akram in the distance and got a mutual acquaintance to introduce him. Brown is suitably about his cricket ability but with his skills and determination you just never know what the sport would have made of him.
Australia’s female sporting revolution came a year or two too late for Brennan, a gold medallist in rowing at the Rio Olympics. She was formerly a star 400m runner who was runner-up to Jana Pittman at the national titles, Had she still been training, she would have had a multitude of offers to player league union or AFL, with her father Max a 200-game AFL player.
Former Broncos conditioner Kelvin Giles once claimed that the robust Sailor could have been a world class 400m Olympic runner had he wanted to be a track star. He certainly had the frame for it.
The Wallaby centre was an athlete par excellence in his youth, a national junior star at athletics and cricket. He once received an award for the best fieldsman at an Australian under-19 cricket. Some felt he was a better cricketer than a rugby player. Cricket was extremely disappointed to lose him.
CRASH’S GOOD, BAD AND UGLY
GOOD: Not good. Great. Unforgettable. Magical. Football’s World Cup, including a final which had everything bar a pitch invader — oh hang on, it had them too — was so good even fans who don’t like the sport did not want it to end.
BAD: Persistent talk that cricket powerbrokers want to water down the bans to Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft after the ball-tampering affair. Cricket must be strong here. Nothing has changed. The bans must stand.
UGLY: Great to see those deep, dark, treacherous burns which are a highway to golfing hell at Carnoustie, hosting this weekend’s British Open. This course always produces something special.
Originally published as The 10 elite stars we’d have loved to see ‘do a Bolt’