MacGill, who took 208 wickets in 44 Tests, observed students and alumni of DreamCricket Academy, many of whom are now part of the CLNJ Youth Program, and gave them lessons and tips.
By Venu Palaparthi
Stuart MacGill, the former leg-spin bowler of Australia, visited DreamCricket Academy in Hillsborough, NJ, on Saturday, April 13, 2013. MacGill was on a personal visit to New York and his visit to DreamCricket was facilitated by Jamie Harrison of USYCA. MacGill's visit coincided with DreamCricket's tenth anniversary as a USA cricket portal and fifth year as an academy.
MacGill, who took 208 wickets in 44 Tests, observed students and alumni of the Academy, many of whom are now part of the CLNJ Youth Program, and gave them lessons and tips.
Pic (Right): MacGill shows the kids how to grip the ball as USYCA's Jamie Harrison, Coach Earl Daley and Coach Damien Morgan look on.
The easy going cricketer was a huge hit with the kids, using anecdotes and funny stories to explain what it takes to become a good cricketer.
"[Cricket] is about angles, momentum and levers, I bet you didn’t know that. It is what they teach you in physics," MacGill told the kids. "Kicking, punching, tennis, all ball sports, they are all the same," he said, advising the bowlers to "throw your weight through the ball."
MacGill told the kids "Old, young, fast or slow, you can be any type of body, there is a job for you in cricket. I am not particularly fast, I am not particularly athletic. I would have loved to have been a fast bowler. I would have loved to have scared people. I couldn’t do that."
"What I could do," he said pausing for a second before continuing, "was get him out."
"My favorite thing in the whole world was to get the batsman out."
"Doesn’t matter what the batsman did, I would keep going and keep going. You will get them eventually. The thing that I did best was if they hit a six, it did not bother me. They will smack the ball past you. I would go back to my mark and ignore them. You never stare at the batsman or talk to them. You just go back to the mark and keep doing your job. Keep doing it and keep doing it. You are going to get them eventually."
"Then I would meet him in the dressing room and say, I am so lucky to get you out. I am clearly not good enough to get you out. I saw you walking out there and you were so cool. I couldn’t possibly get you out."
"And you can see the batsman going - 'Are you messing with me?" That's what I liked to do."
Emphasizing the importance of perseverance and understanding their roles, MacGill told the kids, "Don’t try to impress everyone. The cool kids in cricket are the one that will be done soonest."
After the net session was over, he assembled all the kids again and told them, "I am impressed with what I am seeing here today. There are some good skills here. You are very very lucky that the facilities here at DreamCricket, they are as good as the ones we have in Australia. I hope to see some of you playing for USA soon."
MacGill posed for pictures, signed autographs and asked everyone to visit The Cricket Club, his hangout on Google+ together with Aakash Chopra and Damien Martyn.
MacGill was presented with a memento by Kranthi Bayya of DreamCricket Academy. MacGill, who is known to be an avid reader browsed DreamCricket's collection of rare videos, books and memorabilia. MacGill then spoke about his Google Hangout - The Cricket Club's popularity in North America, and about his many interactions over the years with Americans who truly cared about cricket. "You might be surprised, but Michael Jackson played cricket," MacGill said remembering a conversation with Jermaine Jackson.
Upon his return to New York, he wrote a note to Jamie Harrison: "After having spent an afternoon in the nets with a bunch of enthusiastic young American cricketers I'm no longer surprised. When you consider this was just a snapshot of youth cricket in the New Jersey region, it was impressive to say the least.
"One of the aspects of the boys skills that struck me most was the fact that they all had their own individual style and technical flair. This might sound as though its a bad thing, but its quite the opposite. Australian coaches in the last 20 years have worked overtime trying to cloning our best players. Consequently we have robbed our young cricketers of the opportunity to become the best version of themselves possible."
"In just 3 hours, I saw at least half a dozen young players with the skills to compete for many years to come. We had a wide range of spin bowling talent, a great left arm seamer who improved with every ball he bowled and some real pace from an athletic right armer who if we're not careful will probably turn his hand to another sport. Its very exciting."
Pic (Right): Little Tyler gets his first lesson in Physics
MacGill was full of praise for USYCA and its goals: "As for the work that you've done with USYCA; I am absolutely stunned that you have managed to achieve so much in such a small period of time. In Australia cricket has the benefit of vast resources, TV exposure and almost exclusive use of sporting facilities in the summertime, yet we can't boast the enthusiasm and growth that you have in the US. Cricket is a game that provides opportunities for 'regular kids' to triumph over athletes and every single one of us loves to see a kid being given the chance to win because they deserve it.
"I'm convinced that you will have a formidable horde of hungry young cricket players desperate to take on the world before too long. The sooner the ICC realizes the strength of the game in North America rests with its youth and not a bunch of tired ex-pats, the sooner you can genuinely compete on the international stage," he wrote.
"I can't wait to talk with Cricket Australia about the development work USYCA is doing with schools and look forward to watching you take these kids to the next level."
The boys were grateful too. After the session, Parth Sampath who got some leg spin tips wrote, "Thank you DreamCricket for having Stuart MacGill today."