For someone who is so hungry to learn, Jasprit Bumrah has many teachers. He lists India’s bowling coach Arun, fellow fast bowlers Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar; and from the Mumbai Indians set up, Shane Bond, Lasith Malinga, and Mitchell Johnson.
Yet, he is a self-taught bowler. His only stint with coaching before he turned into a professional cricketer was a camp in school. He is not the product of a system, and no particular person has shaped his bowling.
Bumrah, the No.1 ODI bowler in the world, has said he learnt many things from Lasith Malinga, his teammate at Mumbai Indians, but that the yorker – the delivery both bowlers have perfected – was not one of those.
“Many people believe that he (Malinga) taught me the yorker, but that’s not true,” Bumrah was quoted as saying.
“He did not teach me anything on the field. The things I learnt from him are about the mind. How to handle different situations. How to not get angry. How to make a plan for a batsman,” added Bumrah.
For Bumrah, the yorker is a ball that conveys the autobiographical, a ball that takes him back to his childhood. It tells the story about a young boy trying not to annoy his mother while bowling alone for hours in the corridor of his house. If the ball bounced and hit the wall, there were two sounds, two resounding thumps. If, instead, he managed to hit the edge where the floor and the wall met, there would only be a dull thud. He aimed for that skirting. (It also explains his short run up—there was simply no space for a longer one in the places he played in growing up.)
“If I was not out playing, I was watching cricket on TV. I always enjoyed bowlers, taking wickets, bowling fast, liked watching the stumps, you know, being rattled. I thought ‘I’d like to do that’. In my head, I was Brett Lee, I was bowling like this, I was bowling like that…I was copying my heroes.”
Then Bumrah took those skills to the streets. “We had rubber balls, super tight ones, with a seam, it used to swing,” Bumrah says. “We did not play on pitches, so there was no seam movement or length balls or caught behinds. It was all about trying to hit the batsman on the full. If you want to take wickets you have to bowl yorkers. I still believe that’s what makes me street smart, because it’s very easy to get hit when you’re playing rubber ball. As a bowler you have to find out ways of how not to get hit.”