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ICC World Cup 2019: Attitude is Jasprit Bumrah’s forte - Jeff Thomson

ICC World Cup 2019: The former Aussie pace merchant is confident the current lot will stand their ground even if they are confronted with batsmen weaned on T20 tactics on flat pitches.

cricket Updated: May 23, 2019 15:37 IST
N Ananthanarayanan
N Ananthanarayanan
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
ICC World Cup 2019,Jasprit Bumrah,Jeff Thomson
India's Jasprit Bumrah prepares to bowl in the nets during a training session.(AP)

Jasprit Bumrah is India’s gunslinger at the World Cup, especially if the English summer turns out more sun than seam. But it is his attitude than action that fuels India’s world No 1 ODI bowler, says the original master of sling, Jeff Thomson.

“They have got a three-pronged pace attack, rather fast bowling attack,” says Thomson, who rattled batsmen in pre-helmet days, and featured in the earliest World Cup editions in England when matches were more crunched Tests than expanded Twenty20s.

The former Aussie pace merchant is confident the current lot will stand their ground even if they are confronted with batsmen weaned on T20 tactics on flat pitches. “They’ve played on batting wickets before, everybody these days have batting wickets. Seaming wickets? They will do just as well on flat wickets. Everybody plays around (the world) and get to adapt. Sometimes it doesn’t work, and then you got to use different tricks. If it is turning, you got the other guys (spinners),” Thomson, 68, says over phone from Australia.

INJURY FEARS

His biggest concern for fast bowlers is less about tracks, more about workload. Former Australia pacer, Andy Bichel, at a World Cup promotional event of web channel Power Sportz here on Monday, which Thomson linked up from Australia, feels Bumrah must be protected as India criss-cross England for the group games. “He’s going to have to be rested at some point before the big dance on July 14,” says the 2003 World Cup winner, referring to the Lord’s final.

Thomson says: “The biggest thing you got to watch is injuries.” He never played a Test in India, but has held coaching clinics in the country. He points to the progress of his ward Prasidh Krishna, the young Karnataka pacer, who opened the bowling for Kolkata Knight Riders this season.

He first picks his four semi-finalists: England, India, “a much different Australia now”, and South Africa before addressing the rate at which Bumrah has evolved. Mention that Dennis Lillee had said Bumrah’s bowling action reminded him of his new ball partner’s, and Thomson points out it is much more than that.

“He is awkward, a bit quicker than what you think he is. And he doesn’t just run in and bang them in. He is quick to learn. He has learned a fair bit since he came to Australia. He is a strong guy, and the best part about him is he just wants to bowl. I mean, he doesn’t shirk the effort. If he is striving to bowl, he is doing the job.”

WINNING ATTITUDE

“His bowling is more about his attitude, it is much more than his action. He can run in, and he can do that all day. But he doesn’t. It might look a bit uncanny, but it is very effective.”

Thomson doesn’t let on if he is a punter, but there is no doubt where his smart money will be.

“We (Australia) are in the top four. If I was a betting man, I will put my money on Australia because they are going to be longer odds than India and England. I mean, with Warner and Smith back in, if you took Virat Kohli and Bumrah out, India won’t be so good.

“Throw them back in, and what has happened is the guys they picked 18 or 12 months ago have learnt. Marcus Stoinis and the like. Now they believe in themselves. They went to India and played well; and throw in the other two and all of a sudden we got a pretty good thing going.”

So, does ODI cricket look anything like the 60-over versions he played in 1975 when it was first put together? “They are probably more professional at it now, they get to play it all the time. It was a second thing those days. You can bat properly, and in ODI if you bowled half-decent, you can have a half-decent field. Not like T20 where it is just hit and miss. The biggest thing that has improved is the fielding. Look at India’s fielding internationally.”

Does he fear ODI cricket will lose out to T20? “We will see how it goes after this World Cup. Not just India games, the other games. We will see how the interest goes, like the watching on TV. Sometimes 50-over cricket seems to be very long. But it depends how the teams play. As long as you play aggressively, to win, it is still going to be a pretty good game.”

But the T20 influence will dominate. “Everything has changed. (Even in) Test cricket, someone goes out there and plays a bit like me; they get a little carried away,” he says lightly, but with the famed Thomson bluntness.

“The bowlers? Probably more tricks, skills, provided they practice the balls properly. Some special ball if you don’t land it where you want, it’s going to disappear.”

First Published: May 23, 2019 13:05 IST