We need an alternative to saliva: Bumrah

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01 Jun 2020 | 05:56 AM
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PTI

We need an alternative to saliva: Bumrah

The gritty fast bowler sees similarities in his career graph to Swedish football star Zlatan Ibrahimovic

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Premier India pacer Jasprit Bumrah won't miss the hugs and high-fives as part of a wicket celebration but he will certainly miss applying saliva on the ball and feels an alternative should be provided to maintain the red cherry.

The ICC Cricket Committee, led by former India captain Anil Kumble, recommended a ban on using saliva on the ball as an interim measure to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Committee did not allow the use of artificial substances as a substitute move.

The new rule makes life tougher for the bowlers and Bumrah, like many former and current fast bowlers, feels there ought to be an alternative.

"I was not much of a hugger anyway and not a high-five person as well, so that doesn't trouble me a lot. The only thing that interests me is the saliva bit," said Bumrah in a chat with Ian Bishop and Shaun Pollock on ICC's video series 'Inside Out'.

"I don't know what guidelines we'll have to follow when we come back, but I feel there should be an alternative," he added.

Bumrah said not being able to use saliva makes the game more batsman-friendly.

"If the ball is not well maintained, it's difficult for the bowlers. The grounds are getting shorter and shorter, the wickets are becoming flatter and flatter.

"So we need something, some alternative for the bowlers to maintain the ball so that it can do something - maybe reverse in the end or conventional swing."

When former West Indian pacer Bishop pointed out that the conditions have been favourable to the fast bowlers over the last couple of years, Bumrah nodded in agreement.

"In Test match cricket, yes. That is why it's my favourite format, because we have something over there. But in one-day cricket and T20 cricket one-day cricket there are two new balls, so it hardly reverses at the end.

"We played in New Zealand, the ground (boundary) was 50 metres. So even if you are not looking to hit a six, it will go for six. In Test matches I have no problem, I'm very happy with the way things are going."

He finds it amusing that the batsmen keep complaining about the swinging ball.

"Whenever you play, I've heard the batsmen - not in our team, everywhere - complaining the ball is swinging. But the ball is supposed to swing! The ball is supposed to do something! We are not here just to give throwdowns, isn't it? (laughter).

"This is what I tell batsmen all the time. In one-day cricket, when did the ball reverse last, I don't know. Nowadays the new ball doesn't swing a lot as well. So whenever I see batsmen say the ball is swinging or seaming and that is why I got out - the ball is supposed to do that.

"Because it doesn't happen so much in the other formats, it's a new thing for the batsmen when the ball is swinging or seaming," said the 26-year-old.

The Ahmedabad-born pacer finds himself in an unusual position as he has not bowled for over two months due to the lockdown imposed in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

When India will play next is not clear yet and Bumrah said he is not sure about how his body will hold up when he returns to action.

"I really don't know how your body reacts when you don't bowl for two months, three months. I'm trying to keep up with training so that as soon as the grounds open up, the body is in decent shape.

"I've been training almost six days a week but I've not bowled for a long period of time so I don't know how the body will react when I bowl the first ball.

"I'm looking at it as a way to renew your own body. We'll never get such a break again, so even if you have a small niggle here and there, you can be a refreshed person when you come back. You can prolong your career," he said.

Bumrah has risen rapidly in international cricket despite experts having reservations about his longevity due to his unorthodox action.

The gritty fast bowler sees similarities in his career graph to Swedish football star Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

"Our personalities are a different. But the story I could relate to is that not many people thought he would make it big. There was a similar case with me growing up as well.

"Wherever I went, it was the general feedback from people that 'this guy would not do anything, he would not be a top-rated bowler, he won't be able to play for a long period of time with this kind of action'.

"So, having the self-belief is important and the only validation that is required is your own validation. I saw that in his (Ibrahimovic's) story, so that's the thing I could relate to," added Bumrah.

I enjoy bowling most with Dukes ball, says Bumrah

Bumrah says he feels most comfortable bowling with the Dukes ball manufactured in England compared to the India-made SG Test or the Australian Kookaburra as it provides even competition in a game that is increasingly loaded in favour of batsmen.

In fact Bumrah is the latest Indian bowler to express his fondness for either Dukes or Kookaburra compared to SG Test that is used in India.

Bumrah spoke on a range of issues, including how he developed an outswinger (inswinger for left-handers) and secret of his eight-step run-up that generates extreme pace.

"I love bowling with Dukes. It seams, it swings, so basically when you have a little bit of help, it does help as it is difficult to be a fast bower with grounds getting shorter and wickets getting flatter," Bumrah said.

"So if the ball does something, it becomes even competition. So you feel you are in the game. With no help, you only have few things to play with. So I enjoy bowling most with Dukes ball."

Bishop asked Bumrah about how he developed the outswinger, which becomes an inswinger for the left-handers and the India international called it a gradual process.

"I always want to bring new things. My different action, maybe once or twice people will be surprised, but they will find you out. So you need to improve and keep on evolving.

"So I had the outswinger but when I came into the international set-up, I wasn't confident about it, maybe it wasn't coming out well, maybe the pace, you should have the feel of it. Slowly, you work on it in the nets. In the West Indies, the ball (Dukes with pronounced seam) was helpful, conditions were helpful," he said.

Bumrah said that many people advised him to increase his run-up but he felt that pace never increased with the length of his run-up which is around eight steps to load up. His unconventional action has been under scanner for long with greats like Michael Holding terming it injury-prone.

He then divulged the secret of his short sprint to the crease.

"Basically, I have never been coached a lot. No professional coaching or camps. Till date, everything is self-taught, everything, through TV, videos. There is no proper reason for action. I have never really listened to people who told that action needs to be changed, kept on developing on strengths if I could have self belief," he said.

Paucity of space in his backyard was the reason for such a run-up.

"Playing in the backyard. My run-up is because of that as we didn't have so much of space, so this (8 step run up) is the longest that you could have had, may be this could have been the case. I have tried longer run-up and nothing changes, speed is still the same so why to run so much."

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