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IPL inspired Japanese baseball legend Shogo Kimura to switch to cricket

"While watching the IPL, I knew I wanted to be out there playing rather than in the stands watching," Kimura said.

Shogo Kimura
Shogo Kimura. (Photo Source: Twitter)

It has been more than a decade since the Indian Premier League (IPL) started as an experiment on the back of India’s stunning win in the inaugural T20 World Cup and one can say that it has turned out to be one of the most if not the most successful experiments in the history of cricket. At the same time, it is also safe to say that the IPL is more than just glamour and entertainment.

Over the years, the tournament has given India a number of stars like Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya and many more. And it looks like the IPL is benefiting not only Indian cricket but other international teams as well. Shogo Kimura, the former Japanese Baseball legend, decided to switch to cricket at the age of 38 (at present he is 39) after watching IPL.

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The former baseball player is now fancying his chances of making a fresh professional career in the various T20 leagues around the world, especially in the IPL. Shogo Kimura featured in Japanese Professional Baseball League from 2003 to 2017, representing teams like Yokohama BayStars, Hiroshima Carp and Seibu Lions.

But in 2017, his contract was not renewed by Seibu Lions. Kimura could have easily gone for a coaching stint but he decided to keep playing although not baseball.

From baseball to cricket

Soon after running out of contract in Baseball, Shogo Kimura received an offer from Japan Cricket Association and the challenge excited him. He decided to switch to cricket after watching a few videos of the game that included the batting of the legendary Sachin Tendulkar.

“I was asked about being a [baseball] coach but I still feel I can be an athlete. I found the idea [of playing cricket] to be really interesting. I did not know much about cricket so I watched a few videos [which includes Sachin Tendulkar’s batting] and believed the skills were transferable and I was excited by the challenge,” Kimura was quoted as saying by Cricket News.

Not very surprisingly, he faced some problems early on while practising cricket. Once he broke his toes while practising when he was late getting his foot out of the way of a yorker. But things changed gradually and by May 2018, he was one of the top 20 cricketers in Japan.

In September, the left-handed top-order batsman made his debut for his country at an international stage, in the East Asia Cup in Hong Kong. He had also visited India to watch some IPL games and he is now well aware of the challenge he faces to play in T20 leagues. “While watching the IPL, I knew I wanted to be out there playing rather than in the stands watching,” he said.

“I need more experience and require spending more time batting. The skills are hard to acquire, and in T20 it is more difficult to spend a long time batting in the game, so obtaining experience is a big challenge,” he added.

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