Nari Contractor, the former India captain who spearheaded the Bombay Cricket Association-Mafatlal Bowling Scheme in 1990, feels the Mumbai Cricket Association must ensure that there is continuity and the latest scheme of picking talent among tennis ball bowlers moves in the right direction.
Contractor, then employed with Mafatlal, selected erstwhile England pace terror Frank Tyson to oversee the scheme which enhanced the careers of several fast bowlers like Salil Ankola and Paras Mhambrey while Abey Kuruvilla was unearthed through the scheme.
"The point is, continuity and right direction. There were times when I had to tell the Mumbai Cricket Association officials that if we don't get certain things needed for the scheme, we would have to shut it down," recalled Contractor.
Although the 1990 scheme produced fast bowlers and Mumbai ended up winning the Ranji Trophy after eight barren seasons, there were severe handicaps which ultimately led to a closure in 1994. Lack of grounds was the reason behind the productive activity coming to a grinding halt.
Contractor explained: "We were at one ground for three months and at another for another period. We were not getting good venues for an extended period of time because they had to host their club matches."
Coach Pradeep Sunderam watches a tennis ball bowler in action during MCA's talent search scheme at Chimaji Appa Ground, Vasai. Pic/Hanif Patel
Indeed, deserving candidates were picked and no one was pushed into contention due to influential connections, another pre-requisite for the success of the current scheme.
"Look, Frank had no connection with the boys who were selected. He went by what he saw and could identify the good and bad," said Contractor, who also headed the Mumbai Cricket Association Cricket Improvement Committee for a while in 2012.
"We gave the boys the best facilities and we picked raw talent. Sairaj Bahutule had met with a serious accident and was not able to even walk. Yet, we persevered."
Contractor's parting shot is prescriptive: "There must be sincerity of purpose. If not, it won't work. After all, this is raw talent they are dealing with."