Bumrah Rightly the Subject of Heady Praise
“The best Indian fast bowler I have seen.’’
Many Indian cricketers have been showered with plaudits aplenty of late and why not? The team is performing admirably and this is symbolized in the ICC rankings – No 1 in Tests and No 2 in ODIs. This also means that the players are up there amongst the best and and a number of them are in the top ten in the two categories. But the praise that has been conferred on Jasprit Bumrah is like confetti at a wedding. Not a day passes without a former great saying something complimentary about the Indian fast bowler. No less a batsman than Vivian Richards has gone on record that he would rather face Dennis Lillee than Bumrah and the latest to join the bandwagon are two all time great fast bowlers in Andy Roberts and Curtly Ambrose.
Sometimes the expressions of approval can go overboard but in Bumrah’s case even the heady kind of praise seems to be well deserved. It has to be for a bowler who has just taken five wickets for seven runs in the West Indies second innings in the first Test –the cheapest five-wicket haul by an Indian bowler in Tests. It has to be for a bowler who is the first from Asia to take five wickets in an innings in Australia, England, South Africa and West Indies. It has to be for a bowler who has taken 55 wickets from just eleven Tests at an unbelievable average of 20.6.
But the spontaneous praise from the likes of Roberts and Ambrose goes beyond the impressive stats. They are taken up by his action and his attitude, by the variety of his deliveries and how he is able to out think the batsmen. And in the final analysis both the greats are convinced that he would have fitted in nicely with the best fast bowlers of their day. ''If he were born here back in our days we would have had him’’ says Roberts. The Antiguan now 68 is usually reserved in his judgement of cricketers and not someone prone to flattery but it is obvious that he has been bowled over by Bumrah enough to hail him as “the best Indian fast bowler I have seen.’’
Ambrose is impressed by his quiet demeanour which he says doesn’t make him any less aggressive on the field. “I am not talking about body language here. I am not talking about being hostile. Aggression is not always about what you show on the outside. To me is is about how you bowl, the aggression of the delivery and Bumrah shows a lot of it.’’
Ambrose too agreed with Roberts that Bumrah could have been part of the pace attack during his day. ''At times he rekindles memories of our prime. The pace, the aggression, the hostility, the craft, the way he outclasses the batsmen, the way he out thinks them. He could have been one of us’’ and then Ambrose has gone one step further. “He’s so complete a bowler he could have played in any era.’’ Among all the tributes that has to be the ultimate.
What has also impressed the duo is that Bumrah is a quick learner. After all he made his Test debut only in January last year and has played just eleven games in the format. But in that short period he has learnt the tricks of the trade and added some of his own. Basically an inswing bowler Bumrah on the current tour of the Caribbean has picked up the outswinger and at his pace this becomes a deadly weapon. Moreover his ability to bowl fast has not come about at the expense of accuracy. His line and length are perfect and he almost always has the batsman playing. During his spell of five for seven for example four batsmen were clean bowled. Of course his judicious use of the bouncer and the intimidating short delivery and the manner in which he unleashes the yorker at will have already made him an irresistible force in international cricket. His feats in the shorter formats of the game have been well documented but right now it is his bowling in the traditional format that is wowing the experts. And at 25 the world is Bumrah’s oyster.