Powell back on base after left-field switch

Windies batsman believes baseball stint has improved his cricket after ending a three-year international absence

Recalled West Indies batsman Kieran Powell says his pursuit of a Major League Baseball contract has improved his cricket, after the 26-year-old made his first international appearance in almost three years on Friday.

Powell took a break from cricket in 2015 following a clash with the West Indies Cricket Board, before trying his hand at baseball as he attempted to become the first professional cricketer to earn a contract in the United States' top league.

The left-hander had tryouts with MLB clubs New York Mets and Milwaukee Brewers but a deal didn't materialise and he returned to playing first-class cricket in the Caribbean last year.

On the back of three centuries in the Windies' recent regional 50-over tournament, Powell was recalled to the ODI side for the first game in their three-match series in Antigua against England.

Batting at three, Powell managed just one before Liam Plunkett had him caught at point as the tourists claimed a 45-run win thanks to a Eoin Morgan ton, but the West Indian is adamant his baseball stint has added new elements to his game.

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"I'm definitely glad I did it," he said. "I think it's helped improve my game in so many ways. 

"I think I have a better base when I'm batting now, I'm a lot more solid, I'm able to generate more power and it's improved my hand-eye co-ordination as well.

"They're massive gains to have to be going into what is a rebirth in my cricketing career. 

"Lots of people don't get an opportunity to play international cricket and I'm having a second opportunity."

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Switching codes has proved a bridge too far for a number of cricketers but baseball has nonetheless had a strong influence on cricket, in Australia in particular.

Former Test captains Ian and Greg Chappell were both talented baseballers, with Ian representing Australia in the sport before earning his first Baggy Green. 

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Mike Young, a former minor league baseball player and coach, was hired as Australia's fielding mentor under then-national coach John Buchanan in 1999, and was credited with a sharp increase in the side's fielding skills.

More recently, Steve Smith and a number of his Australia teammates attended a New York Mets training session in May last year, as they spent some time in the Big Apple ahead of their ODI tri-series in the Caribbean.

"I played some softball as a kid but didn't play any baseball," Smith told News Ltd at the time. "I don't follow the game closely but just seeing how different sportsmen go about their business was well worth the effort as you never stop learning. 

"There's obviously a bit of crossover as cricket and baseball are both bat and ball sports but there are some different skills between the two. 

"I don't think we could just walk out there and hit home runs straight away like these guys but the same would be true of the baseball batters trying to deal with the bowlers we face."

Powell said he hopes to add to his 21 Tests with good performances in the ODI series against England, with the second ODI beginning in Antigua on Sunday.

"I've been working very hard, I've felt like a completely different person to when I just started to play cricket so hopefully this can carry on," he continued.

"Hopefully my performances can push me into the Test and the Twenty20 teams as well but I need to go out and do my best and make sure that I don't leave that in the hands of others.

"I'm not taking anything for granted, being back in cricket after such a long time it's an opportunity and a good privilege.

"I'm honoured to be here and hopefully I can get some big scores."