Someone who has endured multiple back injuries himself, former West Indies fast bowler Ian Bishop can imagine what a “generational” talent like Jasprit Bumrah is going through at the moment.
The 29-year-old underwent surgery in New Zealand last month following recurring back issues that have kept him away from the game since September 2022. Bumrah is now racing against time to get fit for the ODI World Cup at home in October-November.
Bumrah’s “unique” action has worked wonderfully for him but it has also put a lot of load on his back, making him susceptible to injuries.
Bishop, who could have played a lot more than 43 Tests and 84 ODIs if it wasn’t for injuries, feels it is too late for Bumrah to change his action at this stage of his career and he can only be “managed” by picking and choosing tournaments amid the relentless schedule.
“Any fast bowler worth his soul can play all formats of the game all year and maintain his cutting edge pace, it is just too demanding. The sprint up and and down, the hamstring, the workload of the body. It has to be managed,” Bishop told PTI in an interview.
“I don’t think there is any one recipe (to manage workload). Because we don’t decide on the minds and bodies of these outstanding athletes. That decision has to be made by the individual and administrators close to him but I will throw one thing out for governing bodies, it is just an advice. You can’t play these guys (Bumrah and Co.) in every tournament,” he said.
The 55-year-old from Trinidad is not only worried about Bumrah’s future, he is equally concerned for the likes of Jofra Archer, Anrich Nortje and Shaheen Afridi who too have battled injuries. “With so much cricket going on, the players will have to start choosing most important tournaments. It is about how can a player secure his financial future and at the same time play enough to secure his cricketing legacy and help his country. “You want guys like Bumrah and Jofra playing at their best with cutting edge pace. That is what when they have great value. Be very meticulous and specific with when you want them to play,” he said.
In 2020, the great Michael Holding had expressed his doubts over Bumrah’s longevity considering he generates a huge amount of pace with a short run-up and a unique action.
For Bishop, changing action following injuries did not work and he believes Bumrah is past that stage too.
“Everybody has got a unique way in how they formulate their action and Jasprit is more unique than most others so I think he has got to use the physical gifts he was blessed with and fine tune it as he goes along.
“It is a tough one. How do you change (action)? Mikey (Holding) is like a father figure to me and I know he spoke to Mark Wood about extending his run up to alleviate the exacting force on his body compared to a shorter run and Mark has done that and it seems to have assisted him.
“So Jasprit is going to find his own way. I don’t think you can look at changing his action. I tried to do that with mine and messed it up totally. I would personally look at managing what he does.
“Strengthening the core muscles of the body a lot. He is not 21 or 22. When you have done what he has done most of his career, it is hard to make a significant change.
“You can tweak it in some way shape or form but perhaps that is all he would be able to do. Can’t wait for him to comeback. Love watching him bowl,” said the cricketer turned commentator from Trinidad.
It now seems that Bumrah had rushed his comeback for the Australia T20s in September before being ruled out of the T20 World Cup Down Under.
Bishop wants the Indian speedster to be over cautious in his approach as comebacks are never easy for a fast bowler.
“I am not qualified to say how you should manage (comeback from injury). Only thing I would say is be over cautious. Take a bit longer than what the medical staff says, to make sure that you are super strong physically and mentally.
“Are you sure you able to put everything on the line and your body will hold up?”
Advantage Australia but it will be very competitive: Bishop on WTC final
While the cricketing world is glued to the IPL, the players and followers of the game are eagerly waiting for the Word Test Championship final in London in June.
It will be India’s second successive final WTC and though they beat Australia at home recently, it will be a different ball game at the Oval.
“It is going be different (that series in India), again it will be very competitive. Australia found better form at the back end of the series and they go to England in some way more advantageous position because you are playing a strong opposition (India) out of their comfort zone.
“The Oval can level things up for both sides as it can be very flat . India having had the experience of the last WTC final, will be hoping they have the right preparation and Australia too would want to get that trophy. It is going to a great game,” reckoned Bishop.
Surprising India has not won ICC title in last 10 years
Given the enormous talent that India possesses, Bishop finds it surprising that it has not been able to win an ICC title in 10 years.
“It is surprising. You have to be living under a rock not to be surprised. Everyday the wealth of talent you see.
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“There are some key areas (to improve). White ball cricket first. Batting-wise India have to solidify, those power hitter in the middle for T20s like the West Indies have had, you need more options to support Hardik.
“The rule of impact player in the IPL is allowing the batters to come in and tee off and over time you will find that development taking place. They will also need to get another batch of fast bowlers come through.
“There are so many batters coming through like Gill, Gaekwad and Shaw. India have untapped potential. It is something I hope they get it right. One of the next three (ICC events), they will need to win one of those,” Bishop added.