West Indies cricketer Kieron Powell becomes the first international cricketer to gamble in American baseball.
Powell, 25, played 21 Test and 28 ODIs for West Indies. But, amidst the decline of West Indies cricket and dispute between players and West Indies Cricket board, he decided to ply his trade in baseball.
Last week Powell was invited to tryout at the Mets’ spring training facility in Port St Lucie, his second trial for the club. He has also given a trial for the Milwaukee Brewers.
On Wednesday, scouts from about a half dozen other teams were expected to attend a trial to seen Powell’s athletic abilities might translate to a baseball diamond.
A year ago, Powell did not even own a baseball glove and had never played in an organized game. But last summer, fueled by a dream, he bought his first glove at a California sporting goods store and begun a baseball immersion program that he hopes will vault him into cash-rich league’s doing something no other professional cricketer has apparently ever done.
“I just need the opportunity to show what I can do,” he said in a telephone interview on Monday, “and I’m pretty sure that I will progress through the ranks pretty quickly.”
However, Powell is the first cricketer who flirted with the idea of crossover from cricket to top flight baseball, or, at least, wondered about it. Ed Smith, a right-handed batsman from England, worked out at the Mets’ spring training camp in 2001. He also wrote a book, “Playing Hard Ball,” which compared the two sports.
Ina Pont, a fast bowler also from England, actually had played for several teams in the late 1980s, including the Philadelphia Phillies.
Meanwhile, two bowlers- Dinesh Patel and Rinku Singh-from India were signed by Pittsburgh Pirates in 2009 and a movie “Million Dollar Arm” was made. But, they were not professional cricketers and Patel is no longer in organized baseball. Singh is but has not come anywhere near major leagues.
According to research done at the Baseball Hall of Fame, no known professional cricket player has successfully made it to baseball’s top level.
Powell could be the exception and he has impressed baseball professionals like Ryan Jackson, the Cincinnati Reds’ hitting coordinator, who says he has a chance.
“I’ve watched a ridiculous amount of baseball,” he said. “I’ve been watching baseball nonstop.”