Bumrah is back, but it’s high time to handle him with care

The stress fracture of the lynchpin of Indian attack is like the worst fears coming true – and the BCCI must do everything to prolong his career

Jasprit Bumrah (Instagram/ jaspritb1)
Jasprit Bumrah (Instagram/ jaspritb1)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

It’s the good news that the Indian cricket fans have been waiting to hear for a while now. Jasprit Bumrah, the attacking lynchpin of India who was laid low for close to a year with a crippling stress fracture, is back in business – named as captain of a young Indian team to play a three-match T20 series against Ireland later this month.

A video started doing the rounds on social media since Sunday which showed Bumrah, clad in shorts, bowling full tilt from either side of the wicket in a practice game organised by the National Cricket Academy (NCA) at Alur off Bengaluru. Bowling against the Mumbai Ranji Trophy team, who are engaged in a pre-season camp there, he conceded 34 runs in his 10 overs with two maidens and snapped up the wicket of opener Angkrish Raghuvanshi.

It was part of his simulation training, devised by NCA head VVS Laxman to test the fitness of Bumrah as well as Prasiddh Krishna – who had also undergone a long spell at the sidelines after a back surgery. The decks were finally cleared for the return of the smiling assassin, who would like to test his readiness in Ireland before plunging into the challenging task of Asia Cup and the ICC World Cup in India in October-November.

Bumrah and Krishna have both been named in a squad of young names, where the other seam bowlers are Mukesh Kumar – now in the middle of a debut international series in the West Indies – Arshdeep Singh and Avesh Khan. The three T20 Internationals will be played on August 18, 20 and 23.

 ‘Boom Boom is back,’ tweeted a fan as the Indian team management’s desperation to press him into service in recent months grew stronger. In a rather unwelcome coincidence, four of India’s regular all-format stars have been going through various phases of rehab from injuries – Bumrah, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer and of course, Rishabh Pant after his near fatal road accident last December.

The Ireland sojourn is only a baby step towards the assessment of Bumrah, now 29, for whom this was the second major injury after he broke down in 2019. The recent one, though, is almost like the worst fears coming true in Bumrah’s case as ever since he burst into international reckoning in 2016, a number of fast bowling greats had warned about the potential danger with his bowling action which exerts enormous pressure on the back and shoulders.

The nagging question – even as he hits the comeback trail – is whether he can be the same bowler again? It is now believed that Bumrah had actually sustained the injury during the one-off Test against England in July last year (where he was the stand-in captain), following which there were conflicting reports about it’s nature as he stayed away from action.

While it was initially reported to be a stress reaction, a condition which needed four to six weeks’ rest, it eventually turned out to be a case of the dreaded stress fracture – putting him out of the T20 World Cup in Australia. The long absence has now driven home the truth about how crucial Bumrah is in terms of the potency of the Indian attack – which lacked teeth in the last World T20 and looked all too predictable in the World Test Championship (WTC) final against Australia in June.

It’s high time that the Indian team management is finally serious about the workload management as far as Bumrah is concerned. If he has to at all play all three formats of the game, Bumrah should be shielded from as many as bi-lateral white ball contests possible and nursed for the Tests and big ticket ICC events.

It’s not everyday that one gets a rare gem like Bumrah and the BCCI should do everything at their disposal – and this includes the IPL chores - to protect him!

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