‘Still have faith in Indian bowling’: Glenn McGrath

Hindustan Times, Mumbai | ByDevarchit Varma
Feb 27, 2020 08:47 AM IST

For the first time Bumrah went wicketless in more than two ODIs on the trot—four on this occasion (three against New Zealand, one against Australia)— with last such run being of only two consecutive matches of the ICC 2017 Champions Trophy.

Australian bowling great Glenn McGrath has thrown his weight firmly behind pacer Jasprit Bumrah, who is yet to regain form and rhythm since his return to international cricket, while being the cynosure of India’s bowling across formats.

India's Jasprit Bumrah(AP)
India's Jasprit Bumrah(AP)

Bumrah had missed as many as four series at home across formats—against South Africa, Bangladesh, West Indies and Sri Lanka—as he recovered from a back stress fracture. Without any domestic cricket, in his first assignment since August 2019 he claimed six wickets in all five T20Is against New Zealand. But a wicketless three-match ODI series followed by just one wicket on a bowling-friendly pitch at Wellington for the first Test saw Bumrah losing momentum and coming under scrutiny.

For the first time Bumrah went wicketless in more than two ODIs on the trot—four on this occasion (three against New Zealand, one against Australia)— with last such run being of only two consecutive matches of the ICC 2017 Champions Trophy.

Bumrah’s struggles in a T20 World Cup year followed by Test series in Australia might be concerning, but McGrath says a fast bowler needs to have clear understanding of himself rather than feeling the burden of expectations.

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“India have got a quality batting and bowling attack. (Jasprit) Bumrah, I am a big fan of him at Test level. He has been amazing at the shorter versions of the game too. I was surprised to see him so far down the order in the rankings, he has been injured a little bit of late,” McGrath told reporters here on Wednesday during a Tourism Australia event in sync with the T20 World Cup, which the country will host in October.

“Bumrah is unique. The way he goes about it—short run-up, powers through the crease, can swing the ball, good control and good pace—(even in) second or third spell. I do not have any issues with Bumrah. He is coming back from injury. Sometimes it takes a little while for you to get back in.

“A lot of time when you have had success, you want to come back in here [signalling high with his hand] but after coming in at the start of the season or after an injury, you do not come in there. You come in here [signalling lower with his hand] and you got to work and build-up to get there (higher level),” McGrath said.

“It took me a few years to realise that, and by knowing that you give yourself time to get in, you go through your processes and concentrate on what you are looking to do. If you think you should be up here, but you are down there, that plays with your confidence. And if you lose confidence, it affects the rest of your game. Bumrah just needs a bit more bowling, bit of confidence in his body and if he has got that, it will not be long before he is back,” added the fast bowling legend.

McGrath pointed at toss in the first Test in which No 1 India lost by 10 wickets. “I do not have any issues with the bowling attack; you do not lose form overnight. It was just one of those things whether the toss made huge difference. But you still got to make those runs too,” he said.

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“I still have total faith in the Indian line-up; they had a few injuries too. Ishant Sharma coming back, he did get five wickets, Bumrah has had a couple of injuries and he is also coming back. I think Indian bowling is world-class; there is no doubt about that. (Mohammad) Shami bowls good pace, he is deceptive, he can move around, and he knows the game so well.

“Ishant has a lot of experience… the way he has come back in the last couple of years has been impressive. I thought his career might have finished at the international level but he reinvented himself and is bowling really well,” McGrath said.

McGrath backed India to do well in Australia later this year in a four-Test series, which is a part of the ICC World Test Championship. “Australia are playing pretty good brand of cricket. They have got both Steve Smith and David Warner back in. We saw what Dave Warner is capable of in the Australian summer against Pakistan and New Zealand. Having batsmen like Warner and Smith back, it is a totally different game. It is going to be tougher for India, but that is not to say they cannot perform well. They have got confidence of playing in Australian conditions now, they know how to do it, they have done it, they have been successful and there are still enough positives,” he said.

McGrath highlighted that the day-night Test will have the home team in advantage. “I am glad they (India) played one at Kolkata—a lot of good memories from Eden Gardens, (I have) some not so good… Virat (Kohli) got a hundred in that match (against Bangladesh)—that is a positive. There will be other challenges; the Indian team has not come up against day-night Test cricket in Australia. Australia have a lot more experience, they know how it works. But Indian team is a quality team, Virat is a quality captain. They will be up for it, I do not expect them to be a walkover,” he said.

The former pacer, who previously held the record for most Test wickets, warned that Mitchell Starc will be a different bowler in the series Down Under. “You look at the Australians—Pat Cummins is the No 1 bowler in the world, just runs in all day, never gives an inch; he is at you the whole time, the angle that he bowls at… Josh Hazlewood, tall, hits the deck hard, gets that bounce, little bit of away movement, keeps everything tight. Mitchell Starc is a match winner. In the last few years, the radar was not right. This year he has sorted something out; he has changed his technique and has become a lot more confident that he has got control,” McGrath said. McGrath also expressed how teams playing overseas need more batsmen like Cheteshwar Pujara, who is considered as chief architect of India’s first-ever series win in Australia.

“Someone like Cheteshwar Pujara, I actually like his attitude. He is the only batsman I have seen who can bat all day, not score a single run and be okay with it. Pressure doesn’t seem to have an impact. But that is probably being a little harsh on Cheteshwar, he is a quality batsman. It is his mental strength that he has, that I think, if there is more of that out there then batsmen will score more runs overseas,” McGrath said.

Adaptability away from home remains key to success in Test cricket and McGrath pointed out that India are yet to ace it.

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