There’s a certain swagger in the manner about which Jasprit Bumrah does what he does that just keeps you at the edge of your seat even though it might mean a long and dreary chore of sitting through half a day of test-match cricket. With the advent of time, lives have become faster, people’s attention spans shorter and their need for instant gratification greater.
All of this has seen the truest form of the game being pushed to the footnote of the cricketing calendar and yet, there was one Ben Stokes who stood up prolifically and made the entire world take notice and obsess about red-ball cricket on Sunday and there was a Jasprit Bumrah whose dynamic spell wreaked a hurricane in the Caribbean the day after. There’s still, hope for the longest format of the game and Bumrah is at the frontline of the fast-bowling revolution, a revolution that is oddly nostalgic of the glorious past, one that has its roots embedded in the islands of West Indies where Jasprit registered his magnificent 5/7 spell, becoming the first Asian to register five-wicket hauls in West Indies, England, South Africa, and Australia.
A new weapon in his arsenal
For someone who has a short and straight run-up and does not bend his body according to the rules of the cricket manual, Bumrah gets rather wonderful swerves with his deliveries. And as Antigua witnessed on Monday, Bumrah got the ball to swing in ways it didn’t before. Kraigg Braithwaite was caught out of the blue and succumbed to deception when instead of swinging in towards the stumps, Bumrah’s delivery moved away from his body but took the all-important nick off the bat resulting from a misreading of the situation. The outswinger was at its majestic best and it had claimed its first victim.
It then tormented Shai Hope, another right-handed but technically sound batsman. Launched into the good zone, Hope expected it to drift towards the off-stump and had his body positioned to take advantage of it but the ball just swung inches away from his bat and managed to knock off the leg-stump.
Bumrah has broken into the ICC Top 10 Test Bowlers ranking as well.
The conditions at Antigua were in his favor and he used to it to generate more Magnus and Reverse Magnus effect to deceive batsmen with his swing and the dip in the ball’s trajectory.
Business, as usual for Bumrah
While the right-handers were treated to the newest statement addition to Bumrah’s area of expertise, the left-handed Windies batsmen had to face the usual inswingers. When Bumrah in his stride, and he was desperate for success after a rather subdued first inning, everything else falls apart. Timing, instincts, judgment cease to work properly when Bumrah fools you with the line, length, and trajectory.
So impressive was his display in Antigua that it made Andy Roberts drift into reverie. “Look at everything else he does, he’s classical. He moves two balls into the batsmen, and the other one goes away. Then two away from him, and then one into him. This is how we did, this is how fast bowlers have operated over the years. But the best one knows how, where and when to bowl. And Bumrah seems to have this awareness, which usually takes a lot of time to develop, a lot of experience. But how old is he? How many Tests has he played? He’s a quick learner, isn’t he?”
Bumrah's spell was simply jaw-dropping. Image: AP
Starting out as
an enigmatic death bowler who delivered the meanest yorkers in the game to
becoming this mature and composed opening bowler with the red ball in tests,
Jasprit Bumrah’s evolution has been nothing short of fascinating. The Indian
pacer is rolling back the years with his displays and at 25, comparisons to
Curtly Ambrose, Michael Holding, and John Campbell are a testament to his
mercurial genius that is at its prime and is showing no signs of stopping.