Almanack: Back to bases?

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The Independent Online
ENGLAND'S chances of long-term cricket success may lie in the hands of US baseball bosses. For they have discovered a rich seam of batting and catching talent in Australia, and are busily snapping up Aussie teenagers as investments for the future. One 16-year-old, Glenn Williams, has signed a 1.4m Australian dollar ( pounds 700,000) deal with the Atlanta Braves, and now his young compatriots are queueing up to follow him.

'Kids now realise that while baseball in Australia is still quite small, if they are good enough and if they make it, they will earn wealth beyond the average Australian athlete's dream in any sport,' George Anderson, general manager of the Australian Baseball League, told USA Today. 'Kids are starting to make that choice,' he went on, 'and, as more and more make it, more will make the choice of baseball over cricket.'

Seizing on this trend, Almanack decides to try and improve England's chances in the Caribbean. Is it possible, we asked Mike Carlson of Major League Baseball, that enterprising team owners might sign up some hard- hitting, hard-pitching West Indian talents in the next week or so? Curtly Ambrose, say? Or Richie Richardson? 'Some of those guys,' says Mike, 'when I started watching cricket, I thought some of those guys are real athletes, the kind that could compete at any sport.' Will he pass the message on to the team owners, then? Mike gives a cruel laugh. 'Maybe,' he says. 'Why can't you guys find any fast bowlers, anyway?'