Bumrah has got his cricketing intelligence from tennis ball cricket: Balwinder Singh Sandhu
Jasprit Bumrah has once again stirred the imagination of the cricketing faithful, the experts, his most recent rivals, England, and probably his fellow teammates too. The immediate reason for an enthusiastic discussion around him, as a lethal practitioner of the cricket ball, is because of the turmoil and difficulty he caused in the English ranks that eventually hastened its downfall in the fourth innings of an absorbing Test at The Oval, London.
Soon after the long interval of the fifth day’s play, Bumrah — still wicketless in the last innings of the match — deployed his clever and many-sided skills to hit the timber twice and break the back of the home team, even if their skipper Joe Root was holding fort. With a high arm action, Bumrah sent down in-swinging deliveries of fuller and yorker-lengths and at speeds of 142kmph and 143kmph to knock down the stumps of Ollie Pope and Jonathan Bairstow, respectively.
And in a matter of time, England’s campaign to win or save the Test vanished in thin air. Pope and Bairstow were outwitted by the angle, speed, swing and length of the deliveries.
This is Bumrah’s second Test tour to England and hence he had the experience of bowling with the Dukes ball. He had run into form with a nine-wicket haul in the first Test at Trent Bridge, Nottingham, and played his part in the Lord’s Test win.
Well into his fifth year in the big league of international cricket, Bumrah, because of his unconventional approach to the bowling crease and an unusual action, and his ability to confound the batsmen, has riveted attention on him across all formats of the game.
Pope became his 100th Test victim and Bairstow, 101st. And even after two days of bowling the game-changing deliveries on a dry surface, the cricketing fraternity has been looking at the footage with immense interest and trying to dissect how Bumrah triggered a no-holds-barred contest.
Raised in Gujarat, Bumrah, has not even once been urged to changed his action, although he may have restructured his run-up. He has worked under a number of coaches in Gujarat, but he was lucky to have worked with, and imbibed a few nuances of fast bowling from Balwinder Singh Sandhu — of the 1983 World Cup final fame — for one month at the BCCI’s camp for bowlers at the National Cricket Academy, Bengaluru.
Recalling his experience at the NCA, Sandhu said: “Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur, Hardik Pandya and Deepak Chahar were at the NCA camp. This could have been before he played for India. I showed Bumrah the way to bowl out-swingers from over and round the wicket, and leg-cutters. He could bowl in-swingers, it came naturally to him. I showed him the way, the use of the wrist to bowl out-swingers from round the wicket. My idea was to help him get the feel of bowling an out-swinger, by initially bowling to left-handers.”
Sandhu further said: “He was very smart and intelligent, having played a lot of tennis ball cricket. I also told him that he must learn to bowl the leg-cutter, along with the out-swinger. I told him how Madan Lal used to bowl the leg-cutter, and also to work on the options he feels comfortable with. I told him with his action, his leg-cutters will be more effective.”
The former India medium-pacer said that Bumrah has evolved as a fast bowler over time. “The length of the run-up was the same then, but he used to run in a brisk manner. Now it’s different, the acceleration happening in the last 7-8 strides. His body alignment is perfect. Bumrah has realised what will work for him. And he has developed his skills accordingly. The run-up contributes only 18 per cent to the pace, it’s the arm action that gives 45 to 50 per cent to the pace.”
Sandhu believes that Bumrah has acquired la ot of skills, and the use of wrist playing tennis ball cricket, and that street cricket has contributed to his cricketing intelligence. “Bumrah has progressed consistently. When I saw him first, he was raw. We told him not to change his action. His action is, I think, similar to West Indian Colin Croft's. I told him that he is deceptive, and his leg-cutters can be very effective. And because of tennis ball cricket, he was adept at bowling yorker-lengths and the slower ones. Bumrah is our best now along with Mohammed Shami," said Sandhu.
Bumrah has the advantage of working with a number of coaches, including the likes of Shane Bond (Mumbai Indians) and Bharati Arun (Indian team). But, it is his constant desire to excel that has seen him rise to occasion many times and thrill the cricket world with his spectacular bowling feats.