Young excited for career 'rebirth' in USA
American fielding coach Mike Young, who has been employed in Australia on and off since 2002, says he is eager to start working with players in the USA as he comes back to America later this month ahead of the ICC Americas Combine in Indianapolis in September. Following the announcement of his involvement in the combine, Young said he believes fate has taken his career a full circle to bring him back home.
"I believe that my background in the sport and in baseball, but obviously in cricket, I believe this is what I was meant to do and things happen for a reason," Young told ESPNcricinfo. "The combine is a start. I think we're on a great track right now with the ICC. This combine is a good start and will pull some people together. I've worked with Courtney Walsh before and he's a great guy. Obviously he was a fantastic bowler and knows the game. What [ICC's] Tom Evans and Tim Anderson are doing, they have to be highly complimented for their passion in trying to get this thing kicked off. That inspires me so I'm going in and the combine for me is just a start. To me it's a rebirth for me and my coaching career."
Young, 59, most recently worked with Australia as a fielding consultant during their World Cup triumph but was first involved with the team under coach John Buchanan during Steve Waugh's captaincy in 2002. He said he has been following USA's progress, or lack thereof, from afar ever since he was on the opposite sidelines during Australia's encounter with USA at the 2004 Champions Trophy in England, a match Australia won by nine wickets, chasing 66 in under eight overs.
"I remember being proud to see them actually playing in a world tournament," Young said. "I had just gotten into the sport myself and it was actually the first time that I took notice that USA has a team in a world tournament so there was something going on. We had the best team in the world so I didn't expect them to win but I remember their enthusiasm. I had a few chats with guys afterwards. For me it was inspirational.
"The amount of players there, the amount of enthusiasm, the expats there that follow cricket, it's immense in the United States. You have to tap into it and do it in the right professional way. I'm excited but I remember that sitting there on my own. I've been an Australian citizen for years as well but having come from the United States, seeing those guys out there was surreal. I kept in touch with some of the players. I know there are guys who play around Chicago. I had written to the [USACA] over the years in the past to try and keep my hand in it."
Young said despite numerous attempts to offer his services to USACA over the years, the only time they took him up on it was during Darren Beazley's time as chief executive in 2013. Beazley and then USACA high performance officer Andy Pick recruited Young to be a part of the team's Florida preparation camp in October 2013 before they went for the World Twenty20 Qualifier in the UAE. Young said he was immediately struck by how hard the players were working despite their amateur status and balancing life with day jobs.
"One thing that I was really impressed by was their wanting to be there," he said. "I spent a lot of time talking to them, just talking and not getting caught up in nonsense about the sport, just talking to them as athletes and how proud they were to be representing their country. It's our job to motivate and inspire them and give them the best situation possible. It's not going to happen overnight but it has to start somewhere. That's the exciting aspect of this combine."
As an American, Young also feels he will bring a unique perspective in helping to bring up the standards of the team both on the field and administratively. Ironically, he has found his greatest success overseas but believes that his understanding of mainstream American sports culture will allow him to connect with stakeholders in a way others have not been able to accomplish.
"Being the only American to work at the highest in professional cricket, three World Cup wins, Ashes, IPL, I have a good feel," Young said. "I also have a different perception having spent a lot of years in professional baseball in America and internationally, I look at the sport in a different light. I see creative areas where we can do things with the sport. I understand the American culture and some things potentially may not work there that will work in India.
"That background of being an American and understanding it I think is massive. I've seen Americans come over to Australia who are very competent and try to work in baseball here because they worked in baseball in America but they struggle because they don't understand the Australian culture, the sociological impact when they talk to people. That's where I think I can play a massive role."
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent. @PeterDellaPenna