Frank Tyson remembered by Jeff Thomson, Mumbai cricketers and officials
Frank Tyson © Getty Images

Mumbai: It was time take a trip down memory lane for those connected with Mumbai cricket as they fondly recalled the contribution of former England pacer-turned-coach late Frank Tyson, in unearthing bowlers for the oft-crowned Ranji Trophy champions 25 years ago. Former India skipper Nari Contractor, who was closely involved in the erstwhile Bombay Cricket Association-Mafatlal Bowling Scheme of the early 1990s, even had a dig at the then BCA (now MCA) officials for not even providing proper training facilities to Tyson, who passed away in Australia on September 27 at the age of 85.

“I spoke to Rishikesh Mafatlal, who sent me to England to find a suitable coach for the scheme. But I was not satisfied with the answers they gave about what were their plans if they were appointed as head coach. I then met Keith Andrews, who was coaching at Lord’s who suggested the name of Tyson who was living in Australia,” said Contractor, at the function held here last night at the Cricket Club of India (CCI).

“But I never knew Tyson as a coach though everyone knew him as a top fast bowler. He was also a (school) teacher and a headmaster and thus had teaching experience. After returning home, I contacted him on the scheme and he asked for some time.

“Later he said he wanted only young boys who are raw for the scheme and also made it clear he will not tolerate any interference. Mr Mafatlal agreed to support the scheme and his only contention was that the scheme must produce first class cricketers,” said the 81-year-old Contractor who played 31 Tests for India.

But Contractor also recalled how the then BCA officials were not co-operative to lend a helping hand to the scheme and did not give Tyson a proper ground to conduct his training stint.

“We had to train at the CCI (Cricket Club of India), Parsee Gymkhana and places like that. I don’t think any other person would have continued except Tyson. He said he would go back if this (sort of situation) continued,” said Contractor, who added how a meeting with the then BCA President Manohar Joshi smoothened matters later.

“He was so gentle and yet so hard. Some of the boys he selected for the scheme went on to play for India and most of them also played for Mumbai for decade to decade and half. I can say one of the happiest decisions I ever made in life for cricket was to call Tyson and asked him to be the head coach of the BCA-Mafatlal scheme,” he said.

Contractor also recalled how leg-spinning all-rounder Sairaj Bahutule, who had a steel rod inserted in his leg after being involved in a car accident, was coaxed to take up cricket again by Tyson and went on to play for Mumbai and India.

Former MCA official and now BCCI’s Game Development GM, Prof Ratnakar Shetty, also recalled how the scheme not only benefitted Mumbai cricket but also Indian cricket as Tyson conducted coaching clinics and exams on behalf of BCCI, besides coaching the coaches of Mumbai.

“He was the one who introduced to us bio-mechanics and video analysis which is commonplace now. He brought out the best in cricketers and Mumbai benefited,” Shetty said.

Australian Jeff Thomson, another former pace ace who has now been roped in to find out bowlers for Mumbai, said he would be happy to replicate something similar to what Tyson had done a quarter century ago.

“He had a short career (as a Test cricketer) but his impact was huge in the short time. Frank has been able to pass on his knowledge to the new guys. If I could also make some of these guys play for India, that would be fantastic,” said Thomson, who was here for a month’s stay initially and is set to depart home this Sunday.

Former Mumbai captain and current selection panel chairman Milind Rege said,”Frank was a great teacher. In Abey Kuruvilla he had a raw talent and he chiseled it.”

He also said he has had a long discussions with Thomson and between 7-10 bowlers from the current scheme have been hand-picked to play for Mumbai in the under 23 tournaments.

“Thommo wants all of them to be given a chance to play and develop,” said Rege.

Vignesh Shahane, a former protégé of Tyson said that the late coach’s contribution to Mumbai cricket far outweighed his benefaction to England cricket.

“He took 76 wickets for England while his products like Sairaj, Abey, Paras (Mhambrey), Nilesh (Kulkarni) etc went on to take over 2000 wickets for Mumbai,” was how he put it.

Shahane also announced the setting up of the “IDBI Federal Life Insurance Frank Tyson Scholarship”, worth Rs 2 lakh each per bowler per year, for two players in the 17-19 age group for their education and training, with the two youngsters to be chosen by Thomson.

Kuruvilla said whatever little he had achieved in cricket was “because of Frank Tyson.”

Sachin Bajaj of Global Cricket School, which organised the function, announced the institution of the “Frank Tyson Annual Lecture”.