Spicy Pitch Episode 2: Jasprit Bumrah
I feel that the bowlers run the show! If the bowlers do well, …you win matches! Batsmen… …they will come and go. India is like a factory for them! You’ll see that you will always find batsmen, …it’s difficult to be a good bowler, …in the present generation. So, you want to do the hard job, …if you are doing the hard job, then it gives you a lot of confidence. Playing cricket was enjoyment for me, …that’s why I always wanted to be on the ground, …I used to play as much as possible. I used to enjoy it. I never needed any motivation to play cricket, …or to be told to go and practice, …to play, …I used to enjoy it so much, I would go to play all by myself. See, for me it started like any other kid, …who used to play, …with his friends for enjoyment. I was the same, …the dream was always to play for the country. You don’t… …you don’t think that you will ever be able to reach it, …because you see this country is so big and there are so many players. But, finally you get there, …so, the journey has been good so far. People look at me and say, he’s a lean guy, …my height was also less at that time, …they’d say, what will he do? He’ll not be able to do anything. ‘What will he do? Okay, we’ll give him one or two balls.’ As soon as I bowl the first ball, then the reaction changes! ‘Oh! We didn’t expect that he’ll bowl so quick.’ …and that ‘There’s something different about him.’ So that was the reaction, but, I was always… …very, …very skeptical, that will I be selected or not, …or will I get a chance? I always used to love fast bowlers, …watching them bowl, running fast, …intimidating the batsmen, …creating an aura. So that was exciting for me as a youngster. I was never a fan, as I told you, …of batsmen dominating the game. Big sixes, big scores. I was never interested in that. I was interested when the bowlers do well. Then, almost everyone used to feel that this won’t work. Many people used to feel that… …six months is the maximum period of time he will be able to play. When I played my first Ranji Trophy game, …I took 7 wickets in the game. So then, I felt that yes, if in the four-day format, …I can do well. Then, I must be doing something right. You have this habit of getting the big fishes out. Especially in your first game. You have no fear of anyone, that whoever is in front of you, you can tackle him? No, it’s not like that, …there are many fears. You’re a kid when you’re starting, …so you’re always nervous. There are many doubts, but you don’t show it. Because, if you end up showing that you are nervous, …the batsman has won half the battle. So what did you feel when you were young, …and you encountered a great batsman, …who took a lot of runs off your bowling? I used to get very angry. The persona right now is that I don’t get angry, …but I used to get angry all the time. I used bowl bouncers purposely, …I used to scare the batsman. I used to go up to them, I used to abuse them. That was when I started. Slowly, I understood that, …it’s not helping my game. But, initial reaction was that. Yeah, I used to get angry and show aggression. A beard is a prerequisite nowadays, isn’t it? -To become a cricket star in India? Or not?
-Now… If I remove my beard, I look very young. That’s why… …to look my age, I keep a beard on. How much has your bowling changed, …since the days you were playing tennis ball cricket, …to now being India’s premier fast bowler? Obviously a lot. Because in tennis ball cricket, you only do one thing. So when I was a kid, I used to see other people bowling only yorkers. So, I thought there is only one way to get a wicket. Slowly, when you start coming into serious cricket, you realise that… …there’s a length ball, there’s an out-swinger, there’s an in-swinger. But the thing that I picked up from there, was the yorker. I’ve tried to keep it with me till date. Because, it’s one of my strengths and I’ve tried to use it, …and I’ve tried to keep it with me for a long period of time. So, let’s talk about …the John Wright impact on your life and career. You know, I always give a lot of credit to him. I tell him, ‘I am here, because of you.’ So he says, ‘No no, you worked hard.’ So I was playing Syed Mushtaq Ali, …and he had come to see us play against Mumbai. So we were playing… Many players from the Mumbai squad were already there in the Mumbai Indians. So he had come there to see them. He saw me, …he saw that there’s something different. After the first game, he spoke to Parthiv Patel. So, he told me that he was asking about you. I said please don’t tease me, I’ve only played 1-2 games and you’re already joking about me. You always think that all of these things happen, but… …you don’t expect that they will happen to you. So when I came into this side, I was a 19-year-old kid. So, I was… skillful. Yes. But I had no sense of professionalism, no training. I had no idea about my diet either. I couldn’t even do a pushup. I didn’t know how to do anything then. He was always behind my back, telling me that I need to be in shape, …so I said, why am I doing this? I am able to bowl no? He said, no, you have to be professional. Slowly, slowly, you understand. Once, as a 19-year-old, you go upwards and you have to do all of that, …to reach the highest level. I was very lucky to work with him, …he has an eye for talent, …he’s worked with so many Mumbai Indian players, …who have ended up playing for the country. It’s always good with him, …I still talk to him. I stay in touch with him. So, Sydney ODI debut or Cape Town Test debut? So, for me, both of them are very important, because… …Sydney is also very close to my heart and Test cricket I always wanted to play. Sydney debut was my first international game, …so after a lot of hard work, finally you get the call. The day I reached, there was a practice. But it didn’t happen because it rained. The practice was called off. So I thought now I wouldn’t play because the team doesn’t know what I do. They don’t know how I play, how I bowl. So, now it won’t happen. So, on the next day, early morning of the match day, …when I went to the team meeting, …then Ravi Shastri, who was the team director at that time… So he told me, ‘are you fresh, are you ready?’ I said, yeah, I’m fresh but for what? So he said, you have to play! I was scared at that time, …I was a bit nervous, so I thought, …like how it is normally in a match, the players will help me through it, …but nobody came up to me, nobody said anything, …I was feeling like something will come up, some instruction, something. Nothing. No one came to me or said anything. The warm up finished, the toss was done, everything was ready. Nobody is coming up and saying anything to me. I thought, okay fine, …again I’ll use that advice and just treat it as a normal game. Just before going in, MS came up to me and said, …’Just be yourself and enjoy.’ Uh, it’s a little less than I expected, but… …yeah, it was good. I was just treating it as if I am playing for Gujarat. Let’s talk about your Test debut, Cape Town. Remember that morning? Before that, we had gone and played some international cricket, …1 or 2 years since I had started playing, so I was happy. I was getting to know what I have to do. But, for me, I was never happy till the time I had played Test matches. I always wanted to be a Test bowler, I was working hard towards it. I had improved my fitness, Ranji Trophy, just before I got selected that year, …I played the whole season, after playing for the country. Because the Test season was ongoing, …I was the highest wicket-taker, …semi-final, quarter-final, …against Mumbai, all back to back I had taken five-fors. So I was confident that see, in the four-day format, I am getting better, I am doing well. So whenever I get a chance in Test matches, …I’ll do well. Finally, when I got the call for Test, …I was very happy. I got my Test cap, …I’ve still kept it. Then I started bowling, …I was much more relaxed then because I had played some international cricket. But it took me some time, it took me one inning, …because I had not played in South Africa, …I had played in India, in India the lengths are different, the lines are different, …so then after one inning, I analyzed, …in the second inning, I understood. So, to make changes on the go, …is the thing that I had learnt in my first Test match. But before that, there was enough talk around, saying that make him play Tests, he’ll do it. So I think that if I have come here through my beliefs, …I don’t need… …see, I obviously appreciate the praise that I get, …I am grateful for that, …but I don’t take it too seriously, and I don’t take criticism too seriously as well. Because, I think, whatever I believe is going to happen. How do you filter out things that you don’t want? You listen to everyone, …it’s not like that, because you never know what good advice will come your way. You listen to things, you understand them, …then you try to listen to the people you take seriously and trust. You listen to their advice. If you started listening to everyone, you wouldn’t be able to play. But I’m sure you’ve had one of those, ‘Oh wow, Sachin sir!’ moments? ‘Oh wow, MS!’ When I came to the Mumbai Indians side, I was a 19-year-old kid and I’ve seen Sachin Tendulkar play all my life. Just to bowl to him, …just to get a chance to bowl to him was a big thing for me. So when the normal meet and greet sessions happened, …the team bonding sessions happened, …before the first game. Everybody was sitting in a circle, …so as soon as Sachin Tendulkar came, both of us were just looking at him, …that is it really happened that we’re going to be in the same team as him! -Wow!
-And we’re playing with him. He only… He only by himself started talking to us, because, …he knows that we are not going to go up to him and talk to him, …so he came up to us. Even at the practice sessions, he used to give us a lot of confidence. And you’re able to naturally insulate yourself from the whole madness that happens at the Wankhede? For me, I don’t focus on it a lot. It doesn’t really matter if people are there. People are there, they are backing you, …yes, you feel good. But my focus is always at the ground. Even my mother has asked me this question, …that we are screaming, we’re waving, you don’t even look at us! So I said, I don’t… my focus only doesn’t go. My focus is inside the boundary circle. What’s going on there. You make up your mind while you’re running in? Just before your bowling… delivery stride? Nothing at the spur of the moment. Obviously, a lot of homework has been done. Watch all the videos, you prepare, we see their strengths. They know our strengths, so, …we try to analyse, and we set a plan according to my bowling. I try to do that. It isn’t like, ‘we’ll see on that day or when we get there.’ India is known to be a difficult place for fast bowlers, …so you have to learn reverse swing to get wickets, There’s no fixed template or tutorial. So, we play a lot of… …Ranji Trophy cricket. The second spell is very crucial. When the ball is a little old, the spinners have done their job, …yes, the ball is doing something, …but when the ball is doing something, …you don’t have to be overexcited or you have to… …go for wickets each and every ball. What I try to do, …create pressure, …bowl good balls, again and again and again, …and then eventually, everything follows. Is there one spell in your brief Test career, …or brief India career so far, that you remember, …which was great, that you set him up well? The spell that I remember, …was in England. I was bowling to Keaton Jennings. So I had just played one Test match and I’d taken a five-for in the game, …so I know they’re going to come prepared for me. That was the only time I listened to what the experts were saying. Not about me, …but what the England team should do. So they were saying that he only bowls an in-swinger. So I thought, if they are listening, …if the Indian players are listening then I am in the game, because they don’t know I have the away-swinger as well. So I was bowling to Keaton Jennings, so he was leaving the ball continuously. So, as soon as the ball was near off stump or middle stump, …he knows with my angle, it’ll go away. So I thought, now he’s listened to the commentary and outside off stump, he’ll leave. I thought, I’ll show him I’m still doing the same thing. So I bowled two or three out-swingers, Then I thought, yes, I can now bowl the in-swinger. I am sure he won’t be expecting, …I just have to be on the right length. It was on the mark. He didn’t even know, he left the ball. It was… …it was plum and front. So then, that gave me a lot of satisfaction. I’m going in the right direction, so all of these plannings and all of these… …thinking ahead of the batsman, helps. Why is it so difficult to face Jasprit Bumrah? What do you think makes you as effective as you are? I don’t know… …maybe the action, the first time they face it, is something different. But in the end, what I try to focus on is accuracy. Whatever, is in my hands, I try to tick all those boxes. So control is what I try to focus on. If I am trying to bowl a ball, …I’ll set the field accordingly. If I have done everything that I wanted to, …and if then the batsman hits, …I’ll give it to him, it’s okay. My process was fine, my execution was fine. So all of those things, I try to focus on. If you were to talk to, …14-year-old Jasprit now, if you had the opportunity to do that, …what would you tell him? I will tell him nothing! I will tell him to enjoy the game, …which I did, at that time. I would not change a thing. I would just want to, …play cricket at that time, how I used to play. I will say nothing, nothing to be changed. Just enjoy. So tell me, how is the King of Yorkers welcomed at home? Nothing special, …at home, it doesn’t matter if I am a cricketer or not. Everything is normal. I’m just my mother’s son, at home. I don’t want special treatment, we try to be a normal family as much as we can. So what are the naughty incidents that still come up when you’re sitting and chatting over dinner? Sometimes, …when I used to break something while playing at home, …to disguise that, …I used to set the thing back together, exactly as it was. So when mom would dust and clean the place, …it would crumble in her hands. That’s when she would discover what I’d done. Because how else would things have broken! These are the incidents we discuss, my adventures as a kid. It’s not easy being a principal’s son, is it? So my mother was not the principal of my section, …she was the principal of the pre-primary section. So, she was there in the school, …but not in my section. But she used to get reports each and every day, …about what I was and wasn’t doing. That was a bit restrictive. Do you ever sit and think about, …what used to be and what is? Sometimes. Sometimes, my mother also tells me that I never thought this would happen, people would recognise you. But yeah, sometimes I get the feeling, how has this happened? But, really grateful. I feel good that I’m now headed in a good direction after the tough times we’ve seen. That we have come to a good place now. Is your mother happy to shower praise on you or… …is she one of those who will say, there’s a lot left to do? She is proud. She is proud and she’s very happy, …and honest feedback is what the family will always give. She’s like that, she’s obviously very proud, …but if she feels I’m going in the wrong direction, then she’ll let me know. Does she keep newspaper cuttings, to remember what happened when you played? Till date, she still does that. Whenever she sees my picture, …she still cuts everything and she has kept a file. I don’t even know how many files there are now, but she’s still kept it together and she still does it. She takes a lot of pressure on my behalf, …if I’m not doing well, she’ll switch off the TV or change the channel. Was there one moment… …after you hit the big stage, that you thought, now I can call myself successful. That feeling, I don’t get to date. Because the day you feel satisfied, …is the day your progress stops. So I always still feel, …that there is still a long way to go. On some occasions, I can be too hard on myself, that I have set a standard and I want to accomplish that. But to keep things simple, and get proper feedback, you analyse everything, …and then everything is sorted. Family life is very measured, very proper. -Yeah.
-But, the players you spend more time with… …it’s a crazy bunch, this current Indian cricket lot, isn’t it? The atmosphere over there is simple and light, …because if we also take on the pressure, then how will we be able to play? That atmosphere is such, …the bond is so good, as a unit we are so close to each other. Everybody is having fun and pulling each other’s leg. Or even things that we have done in the past, everything comes up. Who’s your best friend in the team? Everyone is close to each other, …but the fast bowlers hang together, …and the rest too, that’s how it works in the team. What’s the weirdest thing a journalist has ever asked you? There was a question recently, that Vijay Shankar had gotten injured off my bowling, …so they were saying that you could go easy on the batsmen in the nets. Our intention is not to hurt our batsmen, …but it was a funny one which I remember from the recent past. Are you big on keeping… …a cricket ball, …that you bowled very well with? Yeah, I’ve got many balls with me at home, …because see, in the end it’s a memory. In the future when you finish your career, you’ll see and you’ll remember, …that you played in different conditions and you were doing well. You had done well and you had played there. So it’s a remembrance. I’ve kept the crucial things that I felt were important. Alright, you love spicy food and there’s so much fire to your bowling as well. Let’s check your Spicy Quotient! Shall we? Pick one, Ahmedabad or Mumbai? Ahmedabad. Football on the field or PS4? PS4. One global sports superstar that you’d love to meet someday? Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic One teammate that you’d love to play a prank on? Hardik Pandya. Have you ever asked a senior player for an autograph? No. White Ball Cricket or Red Ball Cricket? Red Ball Cricket. Your big cricket dream? To play as much Test Cricket as I can. Favourite ground in the world? Sydney Cricket Ground. What’s a bigger nightmare, …dropping a catch or getting out first ball? See, losing a game is the biggest nightmare. What’s Punjabi about you? I don’t know. There is a lot of mixed culture in me, because of… …living in Ahmedabad. Maybe the preference of food. Have you ever played Garba? Yes, I have. Are you good at it? No. What’s the most precious thing you ever gave your mother? Security One thing your mother hates about you? That whenever I come home, …she wants me to meet her friends, and I don’t do that. What’s the one thing your sister hates about you? The same thing, which my mother does. Best way to handle female attention? I act as if I don’t understand what’s going on. I act innocent, like ok, I don’t understand like what’s going on. That’s the best way! You know, for batsmen, you’re very difficult to score off. …and for anchors like us, you’re very very difficult to put in a spot.
You know, for batsmen, you’re very difficult to score off. …and for anchors like us, you’re very very difficult to put in a spot. So once again, …you’ve aced the Spicy Quotient as well! -Thanks so much!
– Thank you, thank you so much. I don’t take the fame and adulation to heart, …because I know it is not permanent. Today, it’s there, tomorrow it’s not. If you run behind success, success doesn’t come up to you. If you run behind money, money will not come. If you run behind excellence, everything else will automatically fall into place. All those philosophies, I also can relate to it. I also focus on all similar things. That, I want to do all the processes right, …if I do everything right, everything else will follow.