Jasprit Bumrah: British media can't keep calm about pace ace

ICC world no.1 Test bowler ranking another feather in pacer's cap

Bowler or chameleon? (photo: @Jaspritbumrah93/X)
Bowler or chameleon? (photo: @Jaspritbumrah93/X)

NH Sports Bureau

It’s been close to two days since Jasprit Bumrah bagged the player of the match award in the second Test against England at Vizag, but the cricketing fraternity simply cannot keep calm. It was, therefore, no surprise when the smiling assassin unseated Ravi Ashwin on Wednesday to become the first Indian paceman in history to be crowned the ICC's world no. 1 Test bowler.

The 30-year-old, who has held followers of the game in thrall since his comeback from a career-threatening back injury last year, is only the fourth bowler from his country to make it the top after spinners Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and the legendary Bishan Singh Bedi. Bumrah now has a tally of 881 rating points, with Ashwin (904) and Jadeja (899) the only Indian bowlers to have aggregated more.

His stay at the top of the heap may be short-lived, though, as the Indian team management plans to rest him for the third Test with an eye on his workload, but one cannot measure genius in terms of rankings alone. Ashwin, the 37-year-old warrior off-spinner, is currently poised on 499 wickets, and a par show in the third Test at Rajkot may see him claw past his teammate again.

However, it seems to be a moment to celebrate the journey of Bumrah for now, through his transformation from a T20 bowler who cut his teeth in the IPL to indisputably the world's finest Test bowler. A fair share of the credit is due here to the vision of Ravi Shastri, the erstwhile India head coach and fast-bowling coach Bharat Arun, who blooded Bumrah in red-ball cricket during India's 2018 tour of South Africa.

A little over five years down the line, Bumrah has 155 Test wickets to show from a mere 34 Tests at an average of 20.2, despite having missed more than a year’s action between 2022 and 2023. Only Sydney Barnes of England, who plied his trade more than 100 years ago, has taken wickets at a lower economy rate.

Looking back at the way the second Test panned out, Nasser Hussain, former England captain and the cricket pundit for Sky Sports, is still awestruck. ‘‘Sometimes, you can be critical of your own team, look at your performance and say: what could you do better? But sometimes, you also have to just doff your cap to the opposition and say they were touched by genius. That’s exactly what happened. That spell from Bumrah in England’s first innings was genius,’’ wrote Hussain.

The lot of English cricketwriters, picky at the best of times, seemed equally gobsmacked by Bumrah’s art. Tim Wigmore of The Telegraph broke down the complete package that Bumrah is in as follows: ‘’He (Bumrah) is pace bowling’s ultimate chameleon. A swing bowler, a seam bowler; the master of a venomous full length; the owner of a venomous bouncer… Bumrah can be many things in the same over, and several in the same delivery.’’

The 30-year-old’s nine-wicket haul helped him leapfrog over Pat Cummins, Kagiso Rabada and Ashwin in the ICC rankings table, while left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav has moved up four places to 45th position.

The batting rankings, meanwhile, sees left-handed opener Yashasvi Jaiswal progress 37 places to 29th after completing a fine double-century in the first innings of the second Test, and Shubman Gill go up 14 places to a career-best 38th after notching up a century in the second innings.

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