Cricket star Kieran Powell takes his shot at Major League Baseball
By Devon Teeple
Kieran Powell is one of the most talented batsmen in cricket. At age 25, he’s played at the highest professional level including his Twenty20 debut at age 16. Powell is also one of only 81 players in history who have scored centuries in both innings of a Test match. The first century was recorded in 1909.
Powell, who has dealt with some contract disputes, recently decided to take some time off and will attempt to transition to pro baseball. He peaked the interest of scouts immediately and has already has some tryouts, including with the Milwaukee Brewers and New York Mets.
The GM’s Perspective had the opportunity to interview Powell about his foray in to baseball and the preparation needed to succeed in a second professional sport.
The GM’s Perspective: What led you to the game of baseball and how did you get discovered?
Kieran Powell: My agent had sent some footage of me off to some Major League teams and the then, Vice President of International Scouting for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Bob Engle, got in contact and came to watch me. He arranged for other members of his department to see me also and a senior colleague in his scouting team suggested that I come to the US to get proper baseball training.
I thought this was a great opportunity I couldn’t pass up. To play international cricket and also have the chance to play Major League Baseball is what dreams are made of. It’s an amazing story. We talked about it and decided to let’s go full on with it. To get the proper training I had to come to the US, so I’ve been getting the required training to make sure I drop the cricket habits and pick up the baseball habits. It’s been coming along really nicely. I’ve had multiple tryouts with quite a couple of big teams already, including the New York Mets, who invited me to their spring training facility last Saturday (January 9th).
GMs: Being a former professional baseball player myself, I know the pressures and preparation that go along with it. I’m definitely interested in the preparation for your training and what exactly has gone into it, especially the cricket swing compared to swinging a bat.
KP: They’re the same and they’re not the same. Cricket is more low to high. As you know, being a former professional yourself, a baseball swing is trying to stay on a level plain. It’s changing the angles and getting used to that angle of the swing. That’s the major change. Your body just falls into the natural position. Every now and then, like every other baseball player, your body won’t always be in the right position when you take a swing. For the most part, it falls in to the right position and knows when and what to do.
GMs: How long has the transition taken?
KP: The Dodgers scout, Mike Tosar had arranged for me to train out in California since the late summer. We then decided to come out to the IMG Academy in Bradenton as all the facilities I need are there and I have also been training with several professional athletes including baseball players. Quite a few of the major league guys have come in and have been training with me as well. I have been exposed to a lot more at an earlier stage than I would have expected which is great as I’ve been able to see how they work and how they prepare.
GMs: If things do go well and the opportunity presents itself, will you leave cricket behind and become a full time baseball player or can you manage being a two sport athlete?
KP: Right now baseball is the first and main priority. All my energy is focused on baseball and making sure I give myself the best possible chance. If an opportunity does materialize (we are currently negotiating with certain teams), that we think is suitable, I will give myself the best possible chance to progress through each level to get to the Major Leagues. Right now baseball is my main priority and I am training 7 days a week and giving it my all, as with anything I do.
GMs: With baseball going global just like every other sport, people who follow will be paying attention to your baseball career. This could allow a whole new group of people to enjoy the game of baseball and vice versa.
KP: As you said, I’m bringing new fans to both worlds. Cricket has a following of two billion globally and whichever team decides take the opportunity of signing me, they’ll have a massive influx of new fans trying to see what’s happening with Kieran. They’ll realize that my interest in the US game is not a temporary fancy, I am extremely serious about this. At this point you will also have the US baseball market that will hopefully take an interest in cricket because as you said, both are such global sports.
GMs: You recently had tryouts with the Milwaukee Brewers and the New York Mets and you have an exclusive Scout Tryout Day coming up this week for which the Dodgers, Cubs, Tigers and Pirates are just some of the clubs that are confirmed to attend. Do the tryouts get easier each time? And does the pressure to perform subside as you get more experience under your belt?
KP: I’m used to pressure after playing international cricket for a number of years. The pressure is more self-imposed than anything else. I have such high expectations in anything that I do that I put all the pressure on myself. There’s no actual pressure from any particular team or scouts. They tell me to stay relaxed and enjoy the moment.
GMs: You played professional sports for years and now you’re expanding in to a new sport, it’s the perfect attitude. That’s what people need. Whether it’s the business world or the sports world, you have to be on an even keel and keep things in perspective.
KP: I hope the fans get behind me and see the effort that I’m putting in to this. I’m not just pushing to make it and be average. I don’t want to be average I want to be very very good.
For more information on Powell or to keep up to date on his MLB tryouts, please feel follow him on Twitter, facebook and Instagram
Devon is the Founder and Executive Director of The GM’s Perspective. He is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies. Currently, Devon is a Manager at a financial institution in Northern Ontario Canada, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow The GM’s Perspective on twitter and Facebook.