The Coronavirus-induced break was frustrating for sportsmen across the globe and Jasprit Bumrah was no different. It made the Indian speedster realise as to how much he really loves the game.
In an exclusive chat with TOI, Bumrah opened up on his journey through the lockdown, saying he made good use of the rare off-time by working on his body and mind.
"Initially, as soon as the series against South Africa got called off, I took a break for probably around 15-20 days... did nothing," Bumrah said. "Then I gradually returned to my routine workouts at home, slowly started working on my body. One of the things I realised was this would be the best time for me to work on aspects that need time and space - also the mental aspect. I thought of ways in which I could make the best of this opportunity. I realised I wouldn't get a time like this again.
"... once the partial lifting of lockdown happened, whatever access I had to an open ground, I made use of it - except there would be nobody else. So, it was like a small kid playing alone in a park. A month of bowling on a single wicket can teach you a lot of things. You tend to think more about how you're running in, the angles at which your arm is coming down, sticking to a line, etc. For instance, figuring things that were not going for me, working on them, going back to a lot of basics. Bowling stump to stump can sound boring but it's a great teacher. Bowling yorkers without a batsman facing it. Basically, just enjoyed doing these things. Lockdown made me realise how much I enjoy playing this game."
Bumrah’s success could dictate defending champions Mumbai Indians’ fortunes in the upcoming IPL, slated to begin on September 19 in UAE. He believes returning to cricket via the shortest format is easier than returning through Tests, especially for a pacer.
"You would need a little more preparation time for Tests. When you prepare for a Test, your body would have to be able to take the workload of 18-20 overs a day. For that, you need to bowl around 15 overs in the nets during training too. If there's a spike in workload, then chances of injuries also potentially increase," he said.
Jasprit Bumrah has come a long way after his international debut in January 2016. He currently holds the No. 2 position in ICC ODI rankings for bowlers and occupies the 9th spot in Test bowling rankings.
Last year, Bumrah played an instrumental role in India’s maiden Test series victory on Australian soil with 21 wickets to his name. He then scripted India’s 2-0 Test series win in West Indies, claiming 13 scalps at a phenomenal average of 9.23 including a hat-trick.
Overall, Bumrah has represented India in 14 Tests so far, taking 68 wickets at a phenomenal average of 20.33 with 5 five-wicket hauls. In 64 ODIs, he has picked up 104 wickets at an impressive average of 24.43 while his T20I record reads – 59 scalps from 50 games at an economy rate of 6.66.
Talking about his international cricket career, Bumrah said: "The cricket journey so far has been very good. I have been very grateful for it and consider myself lucky. But yes, the part of me re-living those moments and processing it inside my mind is a continuous process. 2018 was full of new experiences. In South Africa, the realisation that you need to bowl back of length. In England, I had never realised the Duke ball swings so much, does so much. I had never played in such conditions before. I had only played shorter formats in the UK and the white ball doesn't do much. Then I injured my thumb. All those instances helped me learn bit by bit.”
"Even in Australia, it was the same. In certain situations, I thought I was bowling well. At Perth, for instance, I felt it was the fastest that I ever bowled. I felt like was bowling at 155, 158. But in Perth, I did not get a lot of wickets. So, what had 2018 taught me - just keep doing to the right things, sometimes things will click, sometimes you'll have to wait longer. Results will come. In fact, I remember saying this in the press conference after the Perth Test that it was probably the best I had every bowled then, even if the wickets didn't come as expected. Wickets came in the next Test, at MCG. In hindsight, I bowled better at Perth, I got better results at MCG. At the end of the day, your account will get tallied.
"I try and carry the Perth mindset everywhere. Keep doing what you do, results will follow. When I start again, I will once again go back to doing the same things. Hard work never goes in vain."
After the IPL, India will tour down under, a series which Bumrah is excited about.
"When we went there the last time, it was a challenging tour and a very special feeling given the result. One very important reason why any cricketer always looks forward to touring Australia is that you know nothing will come easy."