“It was a bit challenging…felt like I was bowling three or four different balls at times”
Perth Scorchers quick Andrew Tye credits Western Australia and Scorchers bowling Matt Mason as the architect behind an action change that has helped him a yard of pace this season.
Tye, 34, has raised eyebrows as the speed gun has regularly clocked 140kph-plus during his spells for Australia in the T20I series against India and he has even broken the 150kph-mark during the BBL for Scorchers.
Despite losing his domestic contract with Western Australia last summer, Tye was given the opportunity to train with their squad last winter as he prepared for Australia’s limited-overs tour of England and the IPL.
It allowed Tye to work one-on-one with Mason, who has been a key figure in helping Cameron Green and Jason Behrendorff remodel their actions to avoid further back problems.
With Tye, who was coming off elbow surgery last year, Mason challenged him to find an extra yard of pace through a tweak to his load up to create a wider and faster arm arc that would make his stock ball quicker and his well-known slower balls more effective.
“He suggested something to me with my action to try and generate a bit more pace and a bit more lag in my arm,” Tye said.
“I said to him, ‘mate, I’m nearly 34 what I am going to change my action for? If it goes pear-shaped I’ll be ruined.’ But I trusted him and gave it a crack. As it turns out it’s worked pretty well. I’m happy with it, he’s happy with it and hopefully, we can continue with it.
“It was a bit challenging at times. I felt really weird at times doing it. With all these different actions, you try and figure out what you want to do and then try to make it feel best for you. It was weird. I felt like I was bowling three or four different balls at times. Because of the slight change, I did have a pretty bad rib injury. Just some bruising from it. But now it’s all good, I’ve adjusted to it and I’m loving it.”
Tye had the chance to groove his remodelled load-up while spending months overseas as essentially as a net bowler. He didn’t play a single game on Australia’s tour of England, then went to the IPL and played just one game for the Rajasthan Royals although he has been retained by the Royals for the 2021 tournament.
All the work paid dividends when Tye was called up to the Australia T20I squad for the India series in December when Kane Richardson withdrew for family reasons.
It opened the door for him to return to international cricket for the first time in two years. He was expensive on his comeback as Hardik Pandya ripped the series away from Australia, but he was outstanding in game three to help Australia to a consolation win, claiming 1 for 31 in four overs including 10 dot balls and the key wicket of Virat Kohli for 85.
Tye was thankful to Mason for encouraging him to make some bold changes.
“He’s just awesome in the way he’s challenging guys to get better,” Tye said. “Not stick with what they’ve done and always looking to improve.
“A lot of bowlers, they’ll probably look to learn things more in terms of delivery types rather than look to improve their action because of the risks that can come with it. But if it’s done in a safe way and at the appropriate time, when we could have had seven months without cricket, at the time we were doing it.
“I was all for it. Gave it a crack knowing that if it didn’t work, I’ve always got what I had to go back too but I don’t think I’ll be going back any time soon.”
Tye is now hopeful he can win a place in Australia’s T20I squad to tour to New Zealand after the BBL concludes.
“I’d love to be on the plane to New Zealand,” he said. “Whether that happens or not we’ll see.”
Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Melbourne