Frank Tyson, who passed away on Sunday, contributed greatly to Mumbai cricket. Nari Contractor tells mid-day how he picked the ex-England pace terror to head the BCA-Mafatlal Bowling Scheme in 1990
A lot of good is expected from the MCA-IDBI Federal Life Insurance Bowling Foundation, spearheaded by Australia pace great Jeff Thomson. And success won't be unprecedented.
Frank Tyson at the CCI in 2006. Pic/mid-day archives
In the early 1990s, a Frank Tyson-led Bombay Cricket Association-Mafatlal Bowling Scheme created a revolution in Mumbai cricket and Tyson, who passed away at a Queensland (Australia) hospital on Sunday at the age of 85, became a household name in city cricket.
Contractor's England visit
Mumbai cricket fraternity is mourning the death of Tyson, whose scheme helped bowlers like Abey Kuruvilla, Paras Mhambrey, Sairaj Bahutule and Nilesh Kulkarni wear their country's colours. It was Nari Contractor, the former India captain, who picked Tyson to head the scheme. Contractor was sent to England by his employers Mafatlals to find a head coach for the scheme.
He interviewed several candidates, but they were unable to give him what he wanted: A thorough plan. "Some of them said, they were the best when it came to coaching and would handle it but I was not convinced by this 'leave-it-to-me' approach. I then had a chat with former England 'keeper Keith Andrew (Tyson's England teammate) and he came up with Frank's name. Credit must go to Keith.
"I called Frank in Australia from England to ask whether he would take up the assignment. His response was 'yes, no, no and yes' but he agreed to chart out a plan. This was what I wanted to hear. When I returned to India, we spoke over the phone."
Contractor recalled Tyson's action plan which would go on to cure Mumbai cricket's bowling related ills: Frank said, 'I will start off as if I don't know anybody. I don't want to work with first-class and Test cricketers. I will start with the rawest of raw material.' Tyson's thrust was the kindergarten level of fast bowlers, but he also worked with bowlers making their mark at club level. Kuruvilla had to be coerced into joining the scheme by chief co-ordinator Makarand Waingankar.
Within a few months of agreeing to be trained to become a fast bowler, he was in the playing XI for Mumbai's Ranji Trophy final against Haryana in 1991. Salil Ankola was the lone Test bowler guided by the Tyson-headed scheme and he worked his way to an India recall in 1993 after that 1989 Test debut in Pakistan. While Tyson was not one to be rolled over by road blockers, he never stood his ground in an ugly manner.
Firm, but polite
"He was very firm… politely firm. No one could indulge in any hanky-panky with 'Frank. Yet, he was tolerant and got on with the job despite obstacles. He always had solutions for problems. He didn't restrict himself to fast bowlers, he coached spinners too and they all served Mumbai for over a decade. Whatever talent Frank saw, he developed it," said Contractor.
The former India batsman is proud of his selection. In fact, he indicated that picking Tyson figures high on the list of his accomplishments. That is quite something for a cricketer who once batted in England through pain caused by broken ribs and returned to first-class cricket less than a year after suffering a skull fracture.
Frank Tyson contributed to Mumbai winning the Ranji Trophy after an eight-season gap in 1993-94. His scheme produced a host of bowlers who served Mumbai cricket for several years. After the 1993-94 triumph under Ravi Shastri, Mumbai won the Ranji title nine times.
Many of Tyson's trainees are into coaching today, spreading his 'gospel.' All this merited a message of condolence from the Mumbai Cricket Association through a press release. The MCA office bearers either didn't think a condolence message was necessary or they simply forgot. Tyson even served at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore with the initiation of coaching courses.