Jasprit Bumrah celebrating
File photo of Jasprit Bumrah

Walks a few steps, hops another few, jogs to get nearer to the stumps, and gets into a final sprint that hardly involves four steps to unleash the cherry on the batsman. How much pace can one probably generate with such a run up?  Jasprit Bumrah seems to generate as much pace as anybody else in world cricket. Might not be scary pace, but pace enough to make a batsman uncomfortable. And an unconventional action to make it harder for the batsman.

Currently a hat trick hero, the growth of Jasprit Bumrah from a useful limited overs bowler to an all-situations strike bowler has been wonderful to watch, and deceptively fast too- just like his bowling. If someone is watching him for the first time during the West Indies tour, it would take some explanation to convince him that the guy with the unique action who just picked up a hat trick, is only in his 12th test match. Such has been the speed of his growth in international cricket.

Bumrah has scripted an exorbitantly interesting opening chapters of a narrative that promises to be an absolute page-turner. A narrative, far from its climax, but already with plenty to admire.

That Bumrah was spotted so early and was able to become what he is now, has by large been a consequence of T20 cricket

And for the narrative to reach the audience it deserved at such fast rate, an extremely influential publisher was an absolute necessity. In the case of Bumrah, T20 cricket has been the powerful influence.

Jasprit Bumrah- from T20s to Test matches

If you look back at Bumrah’s career, he first caught attention not in a Ranji trophy match, but in the Indian Premier League. Playing for Mumbai Indians, he initially developed a reputation of being as a useful T20 bowler. His IPL image gave him a ticket to the domestic circuit and it was in the IPL that the Indian selectors spotted something unique in the fast bowler that could make him something big. By the turn of 2016, Bumrah earned his international cap, playing his first T20 international, and an ODI debut followed shortly. It did not take him much time to earn a reputation as a death bowling specialist in international cricket. After all, he could bowl a lethal yorker, a deceptive slower ball, an off cutter, leg cutter, slower ball yorker, bouncer, slower ball bouncer- all with a unique action that makes each of these deliveries that much more difficult to pick.

If Kerry Packer’s revolution brought money into the game that was never imagined, T20 cricket is bringing players that might have otherwise went Unnoticed.

But was it enough to bring him to the test setup? When Bumrah made his test debut in 2018, he hadn’t played first class cricket for over a year. He was picked purely on what he had done in limited overs form. He was called to play his first Test match at a time when he had not bowled more than 10 overs in a match for over a year. Such was the kind of faith in his ability. And he proved every one of them right. He showed the willingness to learn and his speed in doing that. A hallmark of a successful person, not just in cricket, but anywhere. Bumrah has now transformed himself into a strike bowler for India across all formats, a go to man in all conditions.

However natural a talent might be, it still needs to be spotted. That Bumrah was spotted so early and was able to become what he is now, has by large been a consequence of T20 cricket.

IPL gave Bumrah a stage to showcase his skills, which later enabled him to explore the world beyond the stage. It would by no means be an overstatement to say he is now ruling the world that a few decades ago, before T20, would have been far from his reach.

The major inflection caused in World cricket with the advent of T20 cricket has hugely benefited players like Jasprit Bumrah, Jofra Archer, Rashid Khan. The fact that the teams like Afghanistan have fast tracked their way to test cricket is one of the huge boons bestowed upon cricket by T20. If Kerry Packer’s revolution brought money into the game that was never imagined, T20 cricket is bringing players that might have otherwise went unnoticed.

You might mull over the changes that T20 cricket has brought into the game, but you cannot argue over the things that it has given for world cricket to cherish. Jasprit Bumrah, for one, has been a gift to world cricket, presented by T20. “A once in a lifetime talent,” as Ian Bishop said, was spotted just at the right time.