Jasprit Bumrah has been the latest fast bowling sensation for India and in the cricketing world. An effusive person, India is jubilant, but more than a few batsmen around the globe have agreed that he is disagreeable on a cricket pitch. Since his debut at the Newlands, Cape Town in South Africa on January 5 2018, he has played 10 test matches, all of them overseas. Not only are his exploits very impressive, but he has also contributed to a large extent towards making the Indian pace bowling attack one of the most potent in the world.

Bumrah missed two Test matches in England because he was unfit. The team management decided to rest him for the home Test match against the debutant Afghanistan as also in the two Test matches against the West Indies.

Impressive stats in a calendar year in Test matches

In the table below are his statistics in all the international matches that he has played. Though the stats are for three days more than a calendar year in Test cricket, he has added only one wicket to his kitty in those three days.

Bumrah's statistics in all formats of international games

In the Boxing Day Test match, the third match in the just-concluded series in Australia at Melbourne, he bamboozled the Australian batsmen taking 6 wickets for 33 runs in the first inning and 3 wickets in the second for 16 runs ending with figures of 9 wickets for 49 runs. Needless to say, along with a century by Pujara, he was instrumental in setting up a win for India. Two other overseas tests that India won when he took 5 wickets in an inning were 5/ 54 against South Africa at the New Wanderers and 5/85 against England at Trent Bridge.

Why do batsmen find Bumrah challenging?

Bumrah consistently bowls at speeds of around 90 miles per hour. At those speeds, the ball reaches the batsmen in about half a second give or take a little depending on the pace of the ball the direction of the wind and the condition of the pitch. In that half a second the batsman has to decide what action he is going to take. With the batsmen who play at the level of international cricket, the decision and the action are instinctive. Having faced many deliveries and bowlers over the years, batsmen develop a muscle memory that decides the course of action as much as a conscious decision.

Bumrah’s bowling action itself throws a spanner into the reaction time taken by the batsman. Bumrah has a very short run-up for a bowler bowling at his speed. He runs for only about 22 yards before delivering the ball. The first ten steps he takes are a more of a trot. He starts gathering speed in only his last seven steps. There have been bowlers like Wasim Akram, Simon Jones and Craig White who bowled with short run-ups but yet bowled with great pace. But Bumrahs action varies greatly from these others.

Both Shami and Bumrah are at the same stage of their run-up. See the difference the position of their arms.

In the step before the delivery stride, a bowler actually primes up like a spring. To do that, his body and his arms have to be in a certain position before he uncoils to deliver the ball in the next stride. In this step both of Bumrah’s arms are straight. While his left fist goes high above his head, the right arm is straight ahead at shoulder height. Mohammed Shami is also a fast bowler and bowls with a conventional bowling action. In the image below we can compare the position of the arms of the two bowlers. We see that both of Shami’s arms are bent at the elbow just before he goes into the delivery stride. On the other hand, Bumrah’s arms are both straight at the elbows.

Bumrah and the hyperextended elbows

When actually delivering the ball, Bumrah’s arm is at what looks impossible angle at the elbow. The forearm straightens to more than 180 degrees. both of Bumrah's arms have hyperextended elbows which allow his forearms to straighten much more than 180 degrees. Treatment is usually sought when an elbow becomes hyperextended. But people like Bumrah who are born with it don’t feel discomfort and do not need treatment. When the bowler's wrist in that position, the batsman can see little of the ball if any. He sees the seam of the ball at the last moment making it difficult to judge how the ball will swing if any. Judging the pace of the ball also becomes difficult and that slight hesitance is enough to make the batsman play a false stroke.

A shrewd bowler

As Kohli said, when he sees a pitch, he does not dwell on the hard work that he will have to put in. He thinks wickets. Kohli also insists that he would not like to face Bumrah at the international level. Bumrah varies his line length and pace intelligently using his experience in the IPL and depending on who he is bowling too. He has knocked Harris on the head and body a few times in this series. That meant, Harris was earmarked for more than a fair share of short balls.

Shaun Marsh got one that Bumrah pulled out of thin air. Bumrah was bowling full tilt in the last over before lunch. He suddenly decided to bowl a slow yorker that took Marsh by surprise and rapped him on his foot plumb in front. Later Bumrah said that Rohit Sharma had suggested that he could bowl a slow ball as he does in the T20s. Below is a video of the Shaun Marsh dismissal.

Bumrah bowls the slow ball of the year to trap Shaun Marsh lbw