Is Jasprit Bumrah India’s greatest ever bowler?


Indian pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah is still just 26. The right-arm quick gives the impression that he’s been around forever. The finesse, the exuberance and the maturity-all bode well for Bumrah making his a handful bowler.

Having played just about 18 months of Test cricket, Bumrah has already assumed the mantle of a veteran. In a relatively short-stint, Bumrah has already raked-in four fifers in Tests, and more significantly, they have come in different countries- South Africa, England, Australia and the West Indies. No other bowler from Asia can claim that. Not Wasim Akram. Not Waqar Younis.

The Ahmedabad speedster is already making giant strides to be one of India’s greatest. So where does he rank with the yesteryears greats?

Indian fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah.

Jasprit Bumrah: A rare breed

India will always be known as a country of world-class batsmen. Over the years, we’ve produced a line of world-class batsmen, from Vijay Hazare, Gundappa Viswanatha, Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar to Virat Kohli today. It is no secret that we love our batsman and adore them with demi-god status. Bowlers don’t evoke the emotion in the same vein, and fast bowlers even less so.

After all, owing to a lot of factors we’ve produced only a handful of them in a world-class category.

So what makes Bumrah special?

Whatever the format, whatever the situation, Japrit Bumrah is the bowler one can rely on in a crunch situation. However nervy the death overs in IPL are, Rohit Sharma has the simplest task of throwing the ball to Bumrah-and he’ll deliver!

If his team need yorkers, he can nail six in a row. Are hard lengths are the need of the hour on a slow pitch? He can deliver. If India need to tie batsmen down, Bumrah can provide relentless over after over to dry up the runs. Over the years, he has developed the tactical nous and skill to execute his plans according to what his team and the conditions require, which makes him different to others.

It’s not just his speed that makes him a force to reckon with.

Jasprit Bumrah: Variations

Bumrah’s uncanny ability to consistently dish out toe-breaking yorkers and swing the ball at a speed in excess of 140 kmph sets him apart from the rest. He’s not your regular fast bowler with an aggressive run-up or body language to scare the batsmen, quite the opposite in fact.

He gently jogs, then picks up pace and bowlers with the most-unconventional sling action. Apart from lethal yorkers, Bumrah possesses an array of variations in his repertoire like a slow cutter or steep bouncer. To add to that, he’s one of the few bowlers in world cricket at the moment who can swing the ball both ways.

Since making his international debut, he is in an elite list of top five-wicket takes in all three formats. The lanky Mumbai Indians speedster has adapted to all three formats like he’s born to bowl.

In Test cricket, Bumrah has played 14 matches so far, accounting for 68 wickets at an outstanding average of 20.3. He was instrumental in India winning their maiden series in Australia in 2018-19 and also holds the distinction of being the first bowler from Asia to take five-fors in South Africa, England, Australia and West Indies.

No other Indian fast bowler has been so impressive in his initial days, especially in overseas conditions. And when legends like Glenn McGrath and Andy Roberts refers to someone as a once in a lifetime talent, you need to pay heed to every delivery this bowler bowls.

Hence, although he’s just in his initial period of international cricket, Bumrah is already looked at as a seasoned performer. Bumrah’s brilliance is evident beyond just numbers. Before his selection, although India’s attack was undoubtedly excellent, it was leaderless. Bumrah has attained that role rather seamlessly.

Bumrah’s brilliance is in evidence beyond the traditional scorecard and numbers.
For someone who is so hungry to learn, Bumrah has many teachers. He lists India’s bowling coach Arun, fellow fast bowlers Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar; and from the Mumbai Indians set up, Shane Bond, Lasith Malinga, and Mitchell Johnson.

It may be a bit premature to call him India’s greatest, but sure enough Bumrah’s moving in the right direction, and fast!

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