Former Italy and Inter striker Christian Vieri has opened up about his cricket obsession, (jokingly) claiming that he could have been ‘the best batsman in the world’ if he had played the sport professionally.
Vieri’s love of the game stems from his time growing up in Australia. Before he departed for Italy aged 14, he spent lots of time playing both tennis and cricket, but it is the latter that he has kept a burning passion for in his adult life.
Speaking to Stats Perform News (via Fotmob), Vieri said: “Now, if you tell people, it’s a bit strange that I grew up in Australia but when I was there it was normal – going to school, playing soccer, playing cricket, playing different sports. I was a big fan of cricket. Even if we were 13-14, we would go watch Australia play Test matches, ODI matches in Sydney. I’m a very big, big cricket fan.”
“I just love playing,” he added. “I was probably playing more cricket than soccer at school. You know what we would do? The tennis ball, we would tape it up to make it go faster and swing. I think I would’ve been the best batsman in the world if I played cricket. I was an all-rounder. I was really good.”
During his time as a (football) player, Vieri made 49 appearances for Italy and was considered one of the best strikers on the planet in the early 2000s.
In the near future, he could earn international honours again, with the Italian national cricket team asking him to come and train them when coronavirus restrictions allow.
Vieri went on to explain that his lockdown viewing habits have earned him some strange looks from his wife recently.
“I watch all the West Indies’ games – Viv Richard, Clive Lloyd, Joel Garner, all those guys. I would watch Australia but in those days, the Windies were too strong for everyone. I’m on YouTube a lot watching cricket.
“My wife always says ‘what are you watching? what is this?’, three hours a day watching games from 1984 and 1986, and she is going ‘what is wrong with you, why aren’t you normal?’ I say to her, ‘listen, I grew up there, these are the days I was there following cricket’.
“She takes the p*** out of me.”