Mumbai Cricket Association launches bowling scheme with Jeff Thomson as coach

A quarter century after unearthing bowlers who went on to play for the country through a bowling scheme, the Mumbai Cricket Association on Thursday announced the launch of yet another similar programme for which it has roped in former Australia fast bowler Jeff Thomson as its coach.

At the media conference today, former India captain and MCA vice-president Dilip Vengsarkar welcomed the settting up of the MCA-IDBI Federal Life Insurance Bowling Foundation which he said would aid Mumbai becoming stronger and "help unearth excellent bowlers for Mumbai and India as well."

"Jeff Thomson, whom I had faced in the 1977-78 series in Australia as a 21-year-old and was the difference between the two teams in the series (that Australia won 3-2), would coach the pace bowlers while Sairaj Bahutule would guide the spinners," said Vengsarkar.

Jeff ThomsonEx-Australia pacer Jeff Thomson

The 64-year-old Sydney-born Thomson, nicknamed "Thommo", who terrorised rival batsmen in tandem with his fast bowling partner Dennis Lillee in the 1970s, would visit here in September before the first class season to put the 60-odd bowlers through their paces for a month.

Thomson would return to Mumbai in May next year after the conclusion of the first class season to coach the bowlers for another month and he has been contracted for a two-year perid at an undisclosed amount, which is said to be very substantial, according to MCA's sources.

MCA's selection committee headed by Milind Rege and head coach of its BKC Sharad Pawar indoor academy as well as its senior team, Chandrakant Pandit, would identify 30 pace bowlers and an equal number of spinners in the 19 and over age group for the bowling foundation.

"I wish Thomson could come in August but he has some prior commitments connected to the ongoing Ashes series in England and can come only in September. We are looking forward to all the bowlers getting ready to take on all opposition," said Vengsarkar.

The earlier BCA-Mafatlal bowling scheme, that began in 1990 under former England pacer Frank "Typhoon" Tyson, had unearthed bowlers such as Abey Kuruvilla, Salil Ankola, Paras Mhambrey, Bahutule and Nilesh Kulkarni who all played for Mumbai and India.

The scheme is the brainchild of Makarand Waingankar who had interacted with former Mumbai Ranji pacer and IDBI Federal Life Insurance CEO Vignesh Shahane to bring the company on board as the main sponsors.

Shahane made it clear that the bowling foundation was not part of any CSR initiative of IDBI Federal Life Insurance.

"I am a passinate follower of Mumbai cricket, but this is not a CSR initiative," said Shahane.

"We have had such schemes in the past. We had West Indian fast bowler Charlie Stayers holding a camp in the 1960s and then we had the BCA-Mafatlal bowling scheme with Frank Tyson as coach. It helped Mumbai cricket and also Indian cricket a lot," said Vengsarkar.

"We have lot of talent in Mumbai that needs to be identified and groomed. And to win first class games we need good bowlers who can take wickets. I am positive when the season begins in October we will have match winning bowlers among us," said the 116-Test veteran.

The bowling foundation plan would be implemented in consultation with former India stumper and chief coach of indoor academy, Pandit.

Former India swing bowler Balvinder Singh Sandhu would head the panel of bowling foundation coaches while former India physio John Gloster, who is now Mumbai-based, has been appointed as the fitness consultant.

The training of the bowlers would commence on July 13 and would continue till May-end, 2017.

Constant monitoring of all the bowlers would be one of the hallmarks of the scheme, said Waingankar.

"I have accepted this responsibility with huge excitement. I am always willing to pass on the knowledge I have obtained over the years. I hope to develop bowling talent in the dometic and international cricketing circuits for India. Looking forward to being on board," Thomson, who had taken 200 wickets in 51 Tests, said in a message.

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