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Thomson-like bowler Shahane launches bowling scheme in Mumbai

Former Mumbai Ranji paceman Vighnesh Shahane, who had a Jeff Thomson-like action, now helps to launch pace programme involving the former Aussie great

Former Mumbai pacer Vighnesh Shahane couldn’t have asked for a better way to give back to the game. Yesterday, as CEO of IDBI Federal Life Insurance, he proudly shared the dais with his first Ranji Trophy captain and current Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) vice-captain Dilip Vengsarkar to launch the MCA-IDBI Federal Life Insurance Bowling Foundation. Twenty-five years ago, Shahane was a trainee at a similar programme — the Bombay Cricket Association-Mafatlal Bowling Scheme — spearheaded by Frank Tyson.

IDBI Federal Life Insurance CEO Vighnesh Shahane bowls with his Thomson-like action at a city hotel yesterday. Pic/Sayed Sameer Abedi
IDBI Federal Life Insurance CEO Vighnesh Shahane bowls with his Thomson-like action at a city hotel yesterday. Pic/Sayed Sameer Abedi

Less than two months ago, Shahane responded to veteran journalist Makarand Waingankar’s idea of launching a new scheme. “I was a product of the BCA-Mafatlal. It changed the face of Mumbai’s first-class cricket then. We won Ranji Trophy several times. It threw up many stars like Abey Kuruvilla, Paras Mhambrey, Sairaj Bahutule and Salil Ankola. Most of them were here today (for the launch). Surprisingly, there has been no such scheme since then. When Mak sir (Waingankar) floated this idea, I said ‘let’s do it’. There is this perception that Mumbai only produces world-class batsmen and not bowlers, which is true to some extent. So, that’s how this scheme got conceptualised,” said Shahane.

Jeff Thomso
Australia’s Jeff Thomson in full flight against England during a one-day international at Sydney in January 1980. Pic/Getty Images

Roping in Jeff Thomson to coach was the icing on the cake for Shahane, who had a similar action to that of the Australian pace great. However, Shahane clarified that he never tried to ape Thomson’s action during his playing days. “I had only seen a few clips of Thomson. My (Thommo-like) action is just a coincidence. I never modeled myself on him. We had very limited space for a run-up while playing tennis-ball cricket so the best way to generate speed was with a slinging action. All three of us — (Shahane’s friends in his building) Vimal, Gautam Sathe and myself had a slinging action. I went on to play serious cricket, so my action remained the same. Everyone would call me ‘Thommo’,” Shahane recalled.

The scheme...
The Mumbai selectors will pick around 30 pacers and spinners above the age of 19 and they will be trained at the indoor academy in Bandra Kurla Complex. Thomson will spend a month (first in September and then in May next year) with the players. The Balvinder Singh Sandhu-headed panel of coaches and Mumbai Ranji Trophy coach Chandrakant Pandit will monitor the progress of the shortlisted bowlers. Former Team India physio John Gloster will work on the fitness of bowlers. Shahane debuted for Mumbai Ranji Trophy team in February 1992 against Madhya Pradesh and played three more matches before switching to Rajasthan in the next season. He claimed 11 wickets in five first-class matches before venturing into the corporate world.

Stiff competition
Several felt he could have got more opportunities. “At that time, there was Abey, Salil, Raju Kulkarni, Paras and myself, but I will put my hand on the heart and say they were all better bowlers than me. It was disappointing at that time, but all of them played for India, so no regrets! “Playing for Mumbai was a great honour. Dilip Vengsarkar was my captain on debut. After he presented me with my Mumbai cap, he told me, ‘don’t get tense. Just bowl like you do in a club match. No matter how you perform, no one will take this cap away from you’. That was very motivating,” said Shahane. His finest cricketing moment was on his 1992 debut, when he got the wicket of Sandeep Patil, the current India chairman of selectors, who was playing for MP then. “Sandeep was my maiden Ranji wicket. He stopped midway, waited for me to complete my celebration, shook my hands and then left,” he concluded.

 

Harit N Joshi
harit.joshi@mid-day.com

FORMER Mumbai pacer Vighnesh Shahane couldn’t have asked for a better way to give back to the game. Yesterday, as CEO of IDBI Federal Life Insurance, he proudly shared the dais with his first Ranji Trophy captain and current Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) vice-captain Dilip Vengsarkar to launch the MCA-IDBI Federal Life Insurance Bowling Foundation.
Twenty-five years ago, Shahane was a trainee at a similar programme — the Bombay Cricket Association-Mafatlal Bowling Scheme — spearheaded by Frank Tyson.  
Less than two months ago, Shahane responded to veteran journalist Makarand Waingankar’s idea of launching a new scheme. “I was a product of the BCA-Mafatlal. It changed the face of Mumbai’s first-class cricket then. We won Ranji Trophy several times. It threw up many stars like Abey Kuruvilla, Paras Mhambrey, Sairaj Bahutule and Salil Ankola. Most of them were here today (for the launch). Surprisingly, there has been no such scheme since then. When Mak sir (Waingankar) floated this idea, I said ‘let’s do it’. There is this perception that Mumbai only produces world-class batsmen and not bowlers, which is true to some extent. So, that’s how this scheme got conceptualised,” said Shahane.
Roping in Jeff Thomson to coach was the icing on the cake for Shahane, who had a similar action to that of the Australian pace great. However, Shahane clarified that he never tried to ape Thomson’s action during his playing days. “I had only seen a few clips of Thomson. My (Thommo-like) action is just a coincidence. I never modeled myself on him. We had very limited space for a run-up while playing tennis-ball cricket so the best way to generate speed was with a slinging action. All three of us — (Shahane’s friends in his building) Vimal, Gautam Sathe and myself had a slinging action. I went on to play serious cricket, so my action remained the same. Everyone would call me ‘Thommo’,” Shahane recalled.  
The scheme…
The Mumbai selectors will pick around 30 pacers and spinners above the age of 19 and they will be trained at the indoor academy in Bandra Kurla Complex. Thomson will spend a month (first in September and then in May next year) with the players. The Balvinder Singh Sandhu-headed panel of coaches and Mumbai Ranji Trophy coach Chandrakant Pandit will monitor the progress of the shortlisted bowlers. Former Team India physio John Gloster will work on the fitness of bowlers.
Shahane debuted for Mumbai Ranji Trophy team in February 1992 against Madhya Pradesh and played three more matches before switching to Rajasthan in the next season. He claimed 11 wickets in five first-class matches before venturing into the corporate world.
Stiff competition
Several felt he could have got more opportunities. “At that time, there was Abey, Salil, Raju Kulkarni, Paras and myself, but I will put my hand on the heart and say they were all better bowlers than me. It was disappointing at that time, but all of them played for India, so no regrets!
“Playing for Mumbai was a great honour. Dilip Vengsarkar was my captain on debut. After he presented me with my Mumbai cap, he told me, ‘don’t get tense. Just bowl like you do in a club match. No matter how you perform, no one will take this cap away from you’. That was very motivating,” said Shahane. His finest cricketing moment was on his 1992 debut, when he got the wicket of Sandeep Patil, the current India chairman of selectors, who was playing for MP then. “Sandeep was my maiden Ranji wicket. He stopped midway, waited for me to complete my celebration, shook my hands and then left,”
he concluded.


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