They’ve lost players to rival cricket competitions, and now the West Indies have shed a player to baseball.
Former Test opener Kieran Powell, who last played for the Windies in June 2014, is in Bradenton, Florida, preparing for a tryout day at the IMG Academy on January 13, in which he will showcase his batting and fielding skills in a bid to be signed by a Major League Baseball franchise.
Having fallen out with the West Indies cricket board, Powell is committed to ensuring the move is a success. “An opportunity came about after a few discrepancies with the West Indies cricket board I decided to take some time off from cricket and some footage of me playing cricket was seen by the LA Dodgers,” Powell told Fairfax Media from Bradenton.
“I’ve had some training out here in the US for a few months.”
Powell, 25, has played 21 Tests, 28 one-day internationals and one Twenty20 international since first appearing at international level in 2009. He has three Test centuries to his name, including twin tons made in against Bangladesh in Dhaka in 2012. Despite those successes, he averages an underwhelming 27.48 at Test level. He stepped away following the first Test of the 2014 series against New Zealand for personal reasons.
Once touted as a future Windies captain by WICB president Dave Cameron, the left-hander hasn’t played any top-level cricket since lining up for Tamil Union in Sri Lanka. He says that the American pastime has his full attention at the moment, even if cricket has not entirely been written off. “Baseball is my priority right now. Obviously cricket is my first love.
“[Baseball is] really fun, it’s an interesting game, I’ve loved every minute of it so far, and I hope to continue doing it for the rest of my career.”
He explained he had never contemplated a move to baseball prior to being approached, but having made the decision has received immense support from family and friends. “It’s a unique opportunity, it’s a once in a lifetime thing. This is what dreams are made of as I said earlier. I’m just so excited about it, like everyone’s so excited about it.”
Powell suggested the WICB had to do more to ensure the region’s top talent stayed with the world’s eighth-ranked outfit.
“It’s such a proud and historical region, that’s produced some of the best players that the world’s ever seen, you have to strike an even balance.
“The West Indies board could do something in terms of the retainer contracts, because you can’t have guys losing on the home front and then trying to stop them from losing on the international front as well.”
Despite having kept his switch a secret from ex-teammates, Powell says he has been keeping an eye on his former’s side progress in Australia this summer, where the Windies trail 2-0 ahead of the third and final Test, starting in Sydney on Sunday.