Andy Roberts and Curtly Ambrose, two of the all-time great fast bowlers, have lavished praise on Jasprit Bumrah after his spell of 5 for 7 against West Indies in the Antigua Test.
Having made his Test debut only in January 2018, Bumrah has already made a solid impression in the longer format. In the 11 Tests he has played so far, Bumrah has picked up 55 wickets at 20.63. He holds the distinction of being the first bowler from Asia to take five-fors in South Africa, England, Australia and West Indies.
Historically, West Indies have been one of the powerhouses of fast bowling. They produced some of the best pace attacks during the 1970s, 80s and 90s and both Ambrose and Roberts feel Bumrah would have made the cut in those teams.
“At times, he rekindles memories of our prime. The pace, aggression, the hostility, the craft. The way he outclasses the batsmen, the way he out-thinks them. He could have been one of us, he’s so complete a bowler that he could have played in any era,” Ambrose said.
Roberts opinioned that in addition to his skill Bumrah’s unusual action would’ve made him a valuable addition to the West Indies teams. “It’s the strangest action that I have seen on a cricket field. I need to study that for a longer time to understand the mechanics of his action. But if he were born here back in our days, we would have had him. A freak was the only element missing in our bowling line-up. In fact, Bumrah is the only variety of bowler we had never produced,” he mused.
The unusual action aside, Roberts feels Bumrah is ‘classical’ and also lauded the bowler for his ‘game sense’, which he reckons is Bumrah’s greatest asset. “Look at everything else he does, he’s classical. He moves two balls into the batsmen, and the other one goes away. Then two away from him, and then one into him. This is how we did, this is how fast bowlers have operated over the years,” he said.
Curtly Ambrose likened Bumrah’s skill to that of Courtney Walsh, who was his new-ball partner during the 90s. “He’s good at varying his lengths, depending on the surfaces and batsmen. I saw that in the World Cup, how he adjusted his lengths according to the conditions and batsmen. That makes life difficult for batsmen. In this regard], he reminds me a bit of Courtney [Walsh] a bit. He was wonderful in sizing up the length and bowling accordingly,” Ambrose said.