India’s ace pacer Jasprit Bumrah recently highlighted the role former New Zealand cricketer John Wright had played in his journey to international cricket.
Wright scouted Bumrah for Mumbai Indians (MI) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) during a domestic T20 encounter between Gujarat and Mumbai in 2013. The deal with MI brought him into the limelight and eventually paved the way for his selection in the national team.
"I was just selected for the T20 competition, and that was just my second game and it was against Mumbai. So, John Wright had come to watch Akshar. I didn't know I would get picked. I didn't pick a lot of wickets, I just picked one but I bowled really well, I didn't give a lot of runs,” Bumrah said in a chat with Dinesh Karthik on Sky Sports.
He added: "So, he came to watch one more game. He enquired and PP (Parthiv Patel) told me that he was asking about me. I thought he was clearly joking and making fun of me. After a few days, I got a call from the Mumbai Indians and they asked me, 'Are you interested?' I said, 'Of course, I am interested, that's not even a question. Are you guys interested?'"
Back then, MI’s dressing room was studded with legendary names such as Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble, Ricky Ponting, Jonty Rhodes among others and Bumrah didn’t know how to address his childhood heroes.
"I don't know if that was how it was looking. I was not confident because as a 19-year-old kid, you come into a room where all your heroes - Sachin Tendulkar walks into a room, Ricky Ponting is next, Anil Kumble is next, Mitchell Johnson, Jonty Rhodes, and you were just playing U-19 cricket and now you are here. I was able to talk, but I was not really confident. I was trying to hold my shape and try to get through the session."
Bumrah, who is known for his ability to execute yorkers with pinpoint accuracy, has often credited Sri Lanka’s Lasith Malinga for helping him with the craft. The duo used to bowl in tandem for the five-time IPL champions.
"I had an interesting partnership with Malinga. He usually doesn't talk a lot but he came up to me on his own and said, 'I saw your bowling in the last game and I feel you can really do well.' I connected with him on that level and he told me that you have got a lot of things to offer," said Bumrah.
''Since then the partnership has been good. He still talks to me, even during those phases when I was really eager to play international cricket. He taught me a lot of things. He said that hard times will come and before playing international cricket, you need to see everything," he further remarked.
Talking about his favourite mode of dismissal, Bumrah said: "For me as a child, the only mode of dismissal that existed in cricket was bowling a yorker and getting the batsman bowled because, in tennis ball cricket, that was the only thing that I used to do. There were no length balls, no bouncers, no intimidation. Either hit the toe or the base of the stump. This is how I learned about the yorker and that's my favorite mode of dismissal."