Going Gaga Over Jasprit Bumrah
He is the toast of the cricketing world
He has been the most talked about cricketer in the land for some time now but suddenly he is the toast of the entire cricketing world. And why not for his bowling has been wowing the experts.
They just can't stop raving about Jasprit Bumrah. The 30-year-old Indian speedster has always been a fine bowler but right now he is clearly at the peak of his powers, having honed his skills to the point where he is plainly unplayable.
Simply put he is already an all-time Indian great and in anyone’s all time Indian XI he will be opening the bowling with Kapil Dev. And at roughly midway through his career it is astonishing to speculate what greater levels he could reach.
In the post Kapil era Indian cricket has produced several good fast bowlers – Javagal Srinath, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami – but Bumrah has taken Indian fast bowling to another level. It is no surprise that in the latest ICC rankings Bumrah is the No 1 bowler, the first Indian paceman to climb the peak. And he has already been the No 1 in ODIs and T-20s underlining his versatility.
‘Magic’ and ‘genius’ are the two words being strewn about by those in the know to describe Bumrah’s bowling in the just concluded Test against England at Visakhapatnam. The media has run out of words in chronicling one of the best ever spells of fast bowling.
Just take in this graphic description in the ‘Guardian’ newspaper: “Bumrah took to Ollie Pope's stumps like a lumberjack. Middle stump jagged left, leg stump flew right, leaving off stump standing there all alone. Pope's feet were briefly in a different postcode, his bat on the floor, as Bumrah raced past him in sheer delight.’’
The ball that dismissed Pope has already been described as the ball of the 21st century bringing to mind Shane Warne’s delivery to dismiss Mike Gatting in 1993 widely described as the ball of the 20th century. As another writer described it “as yorkers go Bumrah might just have produced the Stairway to Heaven equivalent to Pope.’’
Australian cricket writer Gideon Haigh went poetic: “Not many single deliveries qualify for must-see status straight away, but the fifth ball of Bumrah's seventh over at Visakhapatnam surely did. Again Bumrah cantered into his final gallop. Again, Bumrah's arm hyperextended like a kevlar mast on a maxi yacht.
“Halfway down, the ball was on a seventh stump line, but it came back with the angle and the swing to spread-eagle Pope's middle and leg stumps. So did Bumrah set off the crucial charge in a controlled detonation of England's first innings. A candidate for the ball of the 21st century? Certainly a tour de force in that most essential and compelling delivery, the yorker.’’
Stuart Broad with 604 Test wickets knows a thing or two about swing bowling. And yet he was moved to observe: “subtle reverse swing is the most dangerous weapon in the game. It’s not always used so spectacularly though.’’
And former England captain Michael Atherton noted precisely in The Times that “Bumrah got Pope with a yorker that Wasim Akram would have been proud of.’’
Cricket spectacle scales few heights greater than speed's precision scattering of stumps. And the wonder was that his genius was not confined to Pope’s dismissal. In the second innings he cleaned up Ben Stokes with another beauty, an appropriate 150th Test wicket.
The England captain’s reaction said it all. He flung his bat and expressed helplessness at the zinger that terminated his innings, an image that captured the majesty of a fast bowler at the acme of his powers. And to set the seal on India’s victory another Bumrah thunderbolt comprehensively bowled Tom Hartley.
Yes, there was Yashasvi’s Jaiswal well compiled 209 and Shubman Gill’s crucial 104 but the nominee for player of the match just had to be Bumrah and not just for his figures of nine for 91.
The stats against Bumrah’s name are of the mind boggling and eye rubbing variety. In 34 Tests he has 155 wickets at a stunning average of just over 20. For some bowlers if the economy rate is satisfactory, the strike rate is pretty ordinary or vice versa.
But in Bumrah’s case both put him among the best fast bowlers of all time. A strike rate of 44.5 allied to an economy rate of 2.71 are the kind of figures only the all-time greats can boast of. He is a game changer and a match winner the kind of which Indian cricket has probably never seen before.
Probably Bumrah’s greatest ability is to take wickets anywhere. He is one who takes the pitch out of the equation. Even on spinning tracks at home he is able to extract pace and bounce thanks to his unusual action which has been the subject of much focus and his willingness to bend his back and not be discouraged by the unfriendly surface. In six home Tests he has taken 29 wickets at the ridiculous average of 13.06.
As far as the fast bowlers’ repertoire is concerned Bumrah is the ultimate. He has an intelligent bouncer, he is remarkably accurate for a bowler of his pace, has the uncanny knack of getting unexpected bounce from the good length spot for the batsman to nick him to the wicket keeper or the slip cordon.
But the highlight will have to be his ability to bowl the yorker at will and to be remarkably consistent. A yorker going awry could result in a full toss which the batsman can put away for easy runs but this doesn’t happen with Bumrah whose yorkers are bang on target.
Then there is the deceptive slower delivery with which he had a well settled Ben Foakes giving him a return catch in the second Test. There is really nothing that he doesn’t possess which makes him a complete bowler and one very difficult to negotiate.
At the moment among bowlers who have taken over 150 wickets Bumrah’s average of 20.19 is second only to the legendary Sidney Barnes who bowled for England in the early years of the 20th century. Following him are Alan Davidson, Malcolm Marshall, Joel Garner, Curtley Ambrose, Jim Laker, Fred Trueman, Glenn McGrath and Allan Donald, the ultimate proof that he is already an all-time great.