India vs South Africa: ‘Why waste Jasprit Bumrah in Tests in India?’: Chetan Sharma
Workload management has been one of the top agendas for the Indian team think tank in the last couple of years. Cricketers who play all three formats have been rotated and given timely breaks to ensure their optimum performance on the field. But largely the rotation has taken place in white ball cricket. The Indian selectors have preferred a full strength squad when it came to Test cricket. The only exception has been Hardik Pandya, who has been getting breaks even in red ball cricket mainly because of the rare talent he possess – India cannot afford a long term injury to their premier seam bowling all-rounder. In the same rare commodity bracket like Pandya, there is another man equally or perhaps even more crucial for Indian cricket’s future – Jasprit Bumrah.
The World’s No. 1 bowler in ODIs, Bumrah has been pivotal in India’s success in all three formats of the game in the last couple of years. Bumrah did get a much needed breather after World Cup when he was rested from the limited overs leg of the West Indies tour but according to former India fast bowler Chetan Sharma, the Indian team management should really consider the idea of resting Bumrah even from home Test matches.
“I think he should be rested (from Tests in India). We should not waste a talent like him. There’s a reason why he’s the best bowler in the world now, we shouldn’t test him in these conditions at all,” Sharma told Hindustan Times in an exclusive chat.
India have a long home season lined up which also includes three Tests against South Africa and two against Bangladesh – both part of World Test Championships.
“World Test Championship is going on and Bumrah is very important for India’s plans. There’s no need to prove it to the world that Bumrah can take wickets on Indian pitches. Ultimately we need to win and earn points,” Sharma added.
Ever since making his Test debut in South Africa, Bumrah has missed only 3 Test matches due to injury. Despite playing 12 out of 15 Tests, Bumrah has bowled the second most overs – 451.5 - among all Indian bowlers, only 4 overs less than Mohammed Shami, who has played in all 15 Tests. Only Pat Cummins, James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Josh Hazlewood have bowled more overs than Bumrah among fast bowlers since January 2018. But all of them have played more matches than Bumrah, who bowls about 38 overs per Test – the second best after Hazlewood’s 39 overs per Test.
Adding the numbers of ODIs and T20Is, Bumrah has bowled 724.3 overs in international cricket since making his Test debut, which is the most by any Indian bowler in the same period and the third most among fast bowlers in the world behind Pat Cummins (809.2) and Kagiso Rabada (797).
Sharma, who has represented India in 23 Tests and 65 ODIs, urged the Indian selectors not to push Bumrah too much. “The team management should asses the conditions, play spinners and rest Bumrah. Ultimately India need to win Test matches and on Indian tracks it doesn’t matter whether Ashwin takes wickets or Kuldeep or Bumrah,” Sharma said.
Sharma also pointed out that India have enough strength in their bowling department to pick up 20 wickets in the absence of Bumrah.
“Times have changed, gone are the days when we used to depend only on Kapil Dev as the lone wicket-taking fast bowler. Now we have one of the best bowling line-ups in the word. We have Bhuvneshwar, Shami, Ishant, Navdeep is also there, so give them chances, why put pressure only on Bumrah alone? Bumrah should be called only when it’s absolutely necessary.”
Sharma, however sounded confident about Bumrah’s success on Indian tracks but was quick to raise an alarm about the injury factor. “He has the talent to pick wickets on every track but my only concern is, he shouldn’t pick up an injury playing on lifeless tracks,” Sharma added.
Bumrah is a part of India’s Test squad for the three-match series against South Africa starting on October 2 at Visakhapatnam.