Mike Young, the fielding coach for the Australian cricket team, is a former minor league coach for the Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles and Cleveland Indians. He'll be contributing to ESPN.com's World Cup Cricket coverage throughout the tournament.
Hi, everyone. It's Mike Young here, fielding coach of the Australian cricket team. It goes without saying that I'm humbled to share my views with our large U.S. audience.
We couldn't pick a better location for the Cricket World Cup than here in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Having worked in U.S. professional baseball for many years before undertaking this role in 2002, I have a total different perspective of cricket. During these past nine years, I've come to appreciate the unique synergy between these two amazing bat-and-ball sports from the bowlers/pitchers to the batters and, of course, the fielders.
The extraordinary skills I've witnessed throughout these years from a fielding standpoint never cease to astound me. Having not been brought up in the sport, I don't take the skill required to do this lightly. For instance, consider this:
The ball used in cricket is virtually an exact duplication to a baseball, both in size and weight, but it's actually harder. The bowler delivers it to a batsman with an average velocity of 80 to 90 miles per hour. Of course, that being the case, when a batsman hits it (which is often), it is traveling at the same speed or, at times, even faster. These outstanding fielders catch it cleanly at least 90 percent of the time without a glove, and many times when it's outside their reach. More dumbfounding, though, they make these extraordinary plays often with one hand. My hand begins to hurt just watching this! To this day, I shake my head at these magnificent feats and say to myself, "Wow, that definitely would make the highlight reel."
When the athletes make these plays (which is at least five times per match), I express my compliments, but they just shrug and nod and say, "Youngy, what's the big deal?" Truth be known, folks, they take it for granted because they don't know any different. The cricketers have expected to make these plays since a very young age, so it's no big deal.
Of course, when doing this in front of 80,000 people, which is a common crowd here, it goes without saying that the place begins to rock like nothing I ever witnessed in professional baseball. If it's the India team that makes these plays, earplugs are the main necessity because it's absolutely deafening.
The World Cup in India: There's nothing in sport that compares.
Bye for now, and we'll chat soon,