Michael Young, fielding coach for the Australian national cricket team, and the only American to be employed at the top levels of international cricket, has announced his enthusiastic support for the United States Youth Cricket Association. The announcement was made on 14 January in Melbourne, where the Aussies were preparing to take on England in a Twenty20 contest.
Young, a former baseball player and minor league coach in the United States, came to Australia in 1981, leading Queensland to their first-ever Claxton Shield Title, and became the State Director of Coaching for baseball. His success coaching Australia's baseball team in the Olympics led him to be named International Baseball Coach of the Year on multiple occasions before he accepted a position with Cricket Australia in 2000.
Hailed by skipper Adam Gilchrist as the "secret weapon" in Australia's 2003 World Cup win, Young has consistently demonstrated the relationship between fundamental skills in the two sports, which is key if Americans are to be easily drawn toward the playing of cricket.
"Baseball is similar to cricket in many ways," Young said. "What works in one you implement in the other."
In expressing his support for USYCA, Young noted the critical importance of introducing American children to cricket at an early age.
"Children playing any sport are always a fantastic endeavor and the USYCA is doing a terrific job at expanding on that philosophy," Young said. "The beauty of cricket also is that it can be played by all ages and both genders. It's an international sport which undoubtedly will one day be an Olympic Sport to go along with it's already star status of being one of the most prolific professional sports in the world."
The USYCA Schools Program donates cricket equipment and instruction to schools and community organizations without condition or requirements. In the past three months, USYCA has initiated cricket programs in 75 American schools, representing over 15,000 children. Young believes that the USYCA approach has a high probability of success, and wants to see it expanded and adopted throughout the States.
"The long-term viability with all sports, no matter where they're played, is the involvement of the youth," Young said. "Without a good fundamental base and highly planned and organised junior development, then any sport has a dim future."
Young also believes that, because of the tremendous potential of the American cricket market, international players, coaches and cricket bodies should rally to the mission of USYCA, as he has.
"It's the USA," Young said. "Why wouldn't world cricket based sporting bodies want the USA to be strong? It's a no brainer. People can say whatever they want, but truth be known, if you have the USA involved in any sport, that sport's standing will improve on numerous levels."
Jamie Harrison, President of USYCA, is grateful to have the endorsement of such a prominent figure in international cricket.
"I'm pleased and honored to have Mike Young stand with USYCA as it brings cricket to American children," Harrison said. "As the lone American in international cricket, and as someone with a background in baseball, Mike has a unique perspective on the possibilities for our great sport in the United States. The fact that he believes so strongly in what we're doing is a great encouragement to us, and we look forward to working with him."
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