Jasprit Bumrah’s priority for success will always be his performances with the red ball because “Test cricket is king.” The 32-Test veteran will be part of India’s pace pack for the first of five Tests against England in Hyderabad starting January 25. It’ll be his fifth home Test.
“I am of that generation where Test cricket is king,” Bumrah told The Guardian. “I will always judge myself on it. Yes, I started with IPL, but I learned to bowl through first-class cricket; that’s where I developed my skill, the art of taking wickets. In Test cricket you have to get the batsman out and that challenges you as a bowler.”
The upcoming series will be Bumrah’s second full series since returning from a stress fracture that had him sidelined for over a year. He picked up 12 wickets in the two Tests in South Africa, including a match-winning 6 for 61 in Cape Town.
On surfaces lately expected to favour spin, Bumrah may not have too much assistance from the surface. The last time England toured (in February-March 2021), he played in just two of the four Tests and bowled just 48 overs. Only time will tell how much of a workload he’ll have this time around.
“T20s, ODIs, some days you might send down five slower balls and get five guys out, when in a Test match they wouldn’t have taken one,” he explained. “There is no luck in Test cricket, the better team wins, you cannot take 20 wickets through luck. I was never happy with just white-ball cricket and Test cricket is still the utmost format for me.”
Bumrah was at the receiving end of England’s new ultra-aggressive approach to Test match batting the last time he played them, in Birmingham in July 2022, a game where he also captained India. The Test is remembered for several reasons, not least because Bumrah carved a small batting record, when he hit Stuart Broad for 29 in a 35-run over.
With the ball, however, India failed to defend 278 with Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root ‘bazballing’ their way to hundreds in an unbroken 269-run stands to seal victory that crushed India’s hopes of a first Test series win in England since 2007.
Asked for his thoughts on the approach, Bumrah said ‘Bazball’ is something he “doesn’t really relate to” but it is something he’s excited about because it keeps bowlers like him in the game and in with a chance at all times.
“I don’t really relate to the term Bazball,” he said. “But they are playing successful cricket and the aggressive route of taking the opposition on, showing the world there’s another way to play Test cricket. As a bowler, what I think is that it keeps me in play. And if they’re going for it, playing so fast, they won’t tire me out, I could get heaps [of wickets]. I always think about how I can use things to my advantage. Kudos to them but, as a bowler, you’re in the game.”