ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2022: While Jasprit Bumrah definitely needs time to recover, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid hopeful of his return.
India find themselves in a bit of a quandary ahead of ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 set to begin on October 16 in Australia. Being injury hit ahead of a mega event does upset the plans of Team India who have been concerted in their efforts to make a difference, not just due to the rightful expectations bestowed upon them by their fans but also because the team management under head coach Rahul Dravid has carved out a particular way forward. In this very context, injuries sustained by India’s lead pacer Jasprit Bumrah and premier all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja have hit India like a bullet from nowhere.
Ravindra Jadeja is surely not going to feature in the World Cup and Bumrah’s condition also looks pretty grim, notwithstanding Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Sourav Ganguly’s insinuation that Bumrah is not yet out of contention. His back injury is something which is of a serious nature and may keep him out of the World T20 and a few more months down the line.
In the last few months, Bumrah missed Asia Cup 2022 held in the months of August and September with the same injury. Then he didn’t play the opening T20I game against Australia in the recently concluded three-match T20I series; after playing the last two games of that series, Bumrah again has been ruled out of the ongoing home T20I series against South Africa.
Painful side of stress fracture
This sort of stress fracture in the lower back could be really painful and it takes immense hard work for the player to make a return; it is difficult to say whether Bumrah would remain the same player after his return.
Bumrah has stress fracture in the lower back which means that he has tiny cracks in the bones of his lower back which appear due to overload and overuse. A few analysts and biomechanics experts have expressed that Bumrah has an advantage of releasing the ball late which makes it hard for the batters to judge but on the flipside of the coin, that late release comes at the cost of additional load on his lower back and given his shoulder and elbows become stiff in the delivery stride, the back takes a lot of load at the point of delivery.
After bowling a couple of overs or so, the body gets tired and the player soon begins to look at the massage room; sitting on a chair with legs elevated on it besides taking light pain killers are regularly consumed.
Ganguly and Dravid both hopeful for Bumrah’s return
Bumrah who has joined Ravindra Jadeja in the injury list didn’t travel with the Indian team to Guwahati for the second T20I game against the Proteas, but the pacer flied to Bengaluru to report at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) to further work on his fitness.
However, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly has shown full hope of adding Bumrah on the plane to Australia for the World Cup. Ganguly’s comments came on the back of a BCCI official’s words to PTI which said that Bumrah could be out for a period of six months.
“Bumrah is not out of the World Cup yet,” Ganguly expressed to Xtra Time digital channel in Kolkata on Friday and has said that a final decision would be taken in the next few days.
India head coach Rahul Dravid also spoke to the media on the eve of the second South Africa T20I about how this injury blow to Bumrah at the eleventh hour could spoil their bowling plans.
“I haven’t gone deeply into the medical reports; I rely on the experts to tell me what it is and obviously, till he’s completely ruled out, till I get official confirmation that he’s ruled out, we’ll always be hopeful right,” Dravid told reporters. “Not everything will be perfect, at times due to injury, due to many factors.”
Now with Bumrah’s injury coming so close to the World Cup, the question arises whether he is playing too many cricket games or is he not properly taken care of by the BCCI. Let’s look at how Bumrah has been shaped on the field in the last few years.
Continuous cricket putting pressure on Bumrah?
Undoubtedly, being an all-format player and coming as one of the three players in Grade A+ contract lists in the BCCI contract for the 2021-2022 season, Jasprit Bumrah is expected to take part in most of the India games. Additionally, Bumrah also has to compete in the 14 Indian Premier League (IPL) games in a span of just seven weeks for the Mumbai Indians (MI).
A look at the whole scenario comfortably clears the whole picture. Till September in this year 2022, Bumrah has been part of five Test matches and the same number of One Day International (ODIs) games. In case of the shortest format of the game, Bumrah has played 19 T20s.
A year before that in 2021, Bumrah was in the team for nine Test matches, 19 T20 games out of which five were T20 international games; surprisingly, the Indian pacer wasn’t part of a single ODI game in 2021, while in the year 2020, Bumrah played four Test matches, nine ODIs and 23 T20s. All these games put pressure on the physical health of Bumrah and push him into an injury spiral.
From thumb injury to abdominal strain - Bumrah has faced all bouncers
When Bumrah started his career with a weird bowling action, most of the experts and former players told that he would be going to face a lot of injuries. Three years back, the ‘Whispering Death’, Michael Holding spoke about how could Bumrah stretch his career.
“I wouldn’t be able to say that Bumrah’s action has caused him to have stress fracture as I have no idea where those stress fractures have occurred but what I know and have said to him is this: if he wants to have a long career, he needs to have a run-up and action that puts a bit less stress on his body overall,” Holding advised that to manage a fast bowler properly, one needs to take inputs from someone who has better knowledge of the stressful job.
“Using such a short run and being so explosive at the crease puts a lot more stress on his body than, say, a Jofra Archer, who has such a smooth rhythmical run-up an action that allows him to distribute the workload over his body more efficiently.”
In case of Bumrah, he has been affected with a lot of injuries; in 2018, during India’s tour of Ireland and England, Bumrah fractured his left thumb while attempting a return catch in a T20I and that injury kept him out of action for three weeks. In the very next year in 2019, during India’s Caribbean tour, Bumrah had a lower back stress fracture that put him out of the home Test series against South Africa.
During India’s famous 2020-21 Australia tour, an abdominal strain that Bumrah picked up while fielding in the third Test in Sydney saw him warming the benches in the series decider in Brisbane. Of late in September 2022, Bumrah missed the Asia Cup because of back injury.
In that case, somewhere the Indian cricket board and the fast bowlers who want to have a long-lasting successful career could have a look at Mitchell Starc and how he manages to stay away from injuries.
Mithcell Starc avoids franchise cricket and chooses only vital series
Among contemporary cricketers, Mitchell Starc is an all-format player who is another crucial member for whichever team he plays for. It is such an interesting way how Cricket Australia (CA) manages the physical and mental health of Starc who himself even after knowing how rich he could become with a great auction in the IPL, is ignoring it with an aim to keep him fresh for the international commitments.
All these factors push Starc to be a part of the Australian team in all the vital series, the major ICC tournaments like the One Day International (ODI) World Cup or the T20 World Cup and in the Ashes. Leaving Starc, Australia’s Test captain Pat Cummins too hardly plays T20Is but always plays the vital series and tournaments.
It's the duty of the BCCI too to manage the workload of their ace pacer and all other players throughout the year to keep them fresh for these vital tournaments. The number of matches could be reduced or they could select which series should Bumrah play or how much time he should be given to heal those niggles.
If they don’t start to do so immediately, then the likes of Mohammed Siraj or Prasidh Krishna and those who are expected to carry India in more than one format will be destroyed in few months. If Bumrah gets ruled out of the T20 World Cup which is most likely to happen, then India have a tough road ahead of them down under.
India will play the third T20I of the three-match T20I series against South Africa on October 4 at the Holkar Cricket Stadium in Indore before kicking off their T20 World Cup campaign against Pakistan on October 23 at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) in Melbourne.