As kids, Greg and Ian Chappell knew as much about the baseball stars of America as they did about the Australian cricket team.
For two of Australia’s greatest Test captains, the bat and ball sports complemented each other perfectly – with Ian playing for Australia in baseball before he wore the baggy green.
In summer the brothers would play cricket and in winter, baseball.
So with America’s favourite pastime transforming one of the world’s most iconic cricket venues this weekend, the question needs to be asked: Could a professional cricketer ever make a successful transition to the elite levels of baseball, or vice versa?
Team Australia coach Jon Deeble says absolutely not.
He heard speculation over the Ashes summer that David Warner was interested in potentially getting a trial with a ball club in the US – and laughed.
Deeble has worked with teams in the Indian Premier League and believes it’s an insult to cricketers and baseballers to say you can do both.
Greg Chappell admits it would take a freak to do it, but he can envisage a day when cricket and baseball could have its Sonny Bill Williams or Israel Folau.
“I’ve seen a few cricketers that would have been pretty good baseballers,” said Chappell, who was awe-struck at seeing the SCG as a baseball facility.
“Viv Richards and Clive Lloyd and Chris Gayle and those guys with their power would have been pretty good baseballers. Viv would have been a great shortstop.
“I think it’s easier for a cricketer to transfer to baseball than vice versa. They’re all full tosses in baseball, so a cricketer’s got a chance. But baseballers struggle when the ball bounces … it’s not as easy transference of skills.”
However, for a cross-bat-and-ball-code switch to happen, Chappell says you would have to grow up playing both sports.
When he was coming through, that was possible because baseball was a winter pastime.
Chappell believes it’s a shame the Australian Baseball League and all grades below it are played in competition with cricket.
“Our winters are such that you could play baseball, it’s not a huge problem. But I don’t think there’s any will to change it,” he said.
“It’s a shame … it was terrific cross training really.”
Australian hitter Luke Hughes, 29, assisted the England cricket team in their fielding drills over the summer and hopes to one day work with Western Australia and Australia in a coaching capacity.
Hughes says he’d love to see a cross-over in the playing ranks.
“I know a couple of guys down at the WACA who are waiting for one of the (baseballers) to come back and have a crack,” Hughes says.
“Everyone wants to see it.”