‘Everybody understands change’: Jasprit Bumrah on Virat Kohli and more

  • India’s bowling spearhead, vice-captain for the ODI series against South Africa starting in Paarl on Tuesday, says every player is adapting to the recent changes in the team set-up
Virat Kohli (L) and Jasprit Bumrah. (Getty)
Virat Kohli (L) and Jasprit Bumrah. (Getty)
Published on Jan 17, 2022 08:29 PM IST
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By, New Delhi

In the space of four months India have a new chief coach and support staff, and could be contemplating two different captains. That’s a lot to take in after five years of Virat Kohli’s all-format captaincy. New ODI vice-captain Jasprit Bumrah though feels the team won’t find it difficult to adjust to the new order.

Monday’s press conference from Paarl was a scene-setter for the three-match ODI series scheduled to start on Wednesday but after Kohli’s shocking decision to step down as Test captain meant Bumrah had to field quite a few questions on it.

“He told us in a team meeting that he will be stepping down from Test captaincy,” said Bumrah. “We respect his decision and value his leadership a lot. We congratulated him as a team for his contribution and wished him all the best.”

Asked how the team - it is still in the middle of a tour that isn’t turning out well despite starting with a win at Centurion - is coping with the change, Bumrah said, “I can't speak for everyone, but I can say that for me it doesn't really make much of a difference. I am here to help all in whatever way I can. All the players are responding to the changes that have happened and everybody is respectful and understand how the processes are going.”

With designated ODI skipper Rohit Sharma still unfit, India are warming up for the 2023 World Cup with a new captain in KL Rahul and Bumrah as his deputy. Given the state of affairs even two months ago, India are staring at a tricky phase where they not only have to compete in the World Test Championship but also keep switching priorities given the approaching World T20 in Australia later this year.

A new management is bound to bring in different ideas so it remains to be seen how the players react to it. Bumrah sees no problem in adapting.

“Change is the only constant and we are happy everybody is contributing and we are getting (acquiring) a lot of knowledge and trying to contribute to that. I don’t think anybody is facing a problem or is in a weird space with the change that is happening. Everybody understands change. They have played enough cricket to understand that this is the way the game goes and this is how you move forward. So, everyone in the team is quite positive and eager to contribute.”

Four years into his Test career, Bumrah is already leading the pace attack across formats and his promotion comes across as natural progression of a talent that was once believed to be white-ball cricket specific. Official designation or not, Bumrah is already acknowledged a leader within the team. And he enjoys the responsibility that comes with it.

“If there is no responsibility or pressure, where is the fun?” he said. “For me, the role doesn't change at all. I have to do my job first, isn't it? Trying to contribute as much as I can and then helping KL (Rahul) if he needs any assistance on the field, and sharing a bowler’s mindset on what kind of fields you can keep that I always look to do.”

With the bowlers, especially the newer crop, Bumrah believes in keeping a two-way conversation. “As a bowler, when I first came into the team, I used to ask a lot of questions to the seniors. In this transition phase if anyone asks me questions, I share my experience with them. Sometimes their inputs also help. If a new guy comes in and gives a fresh perspective, we take that seriously.”

What if the captaincy falls on his lap some day? “It would be an honour. I don’t see any player would say no. I am no different.”

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