February 29, 2024





His ability to hold a line, bowl wicket-taking deliveries without leaking runs along with those lethal yorkers make Jasprit Bumrah the most complete bowler in international cricket, says former South African seamer Vernon Philander, who foresees the Indian outperforming all his contemporaries in this year’s T20 World Cup in the Americas. Bumrah on Wednesday became the first Indian pacer to be crowned number one in ICC Test rankings. This was after his magical performance in the second Test against England that yielded nine wickets on a sporting track at Visakhapatnam. Philander, who has played 64 Tests for South Africa with 225 wickets against his name, said Bumrah doesn’t seem to have any chinks in his armour.

“Bumrah is the (most) complete bowler at the moment. He has got magnificent skills and he has also learnt the trade of holding a line and length and that is the reason behind his success at the Test level,” Philander told ‘PTI Bhasha’ in an interview on the sidelines of the SA T20 Tournament here.

“Initially, he wanted to bowl wicket-taking deliveries all the time and leaked runs but now he has learnt consistency,” he pointed out.

The T20 World Cup will be held in June across the West Indies and the USA and inaugural champions India would be among the title favourites.

Philander said the team will rely heavily on Bumrah as he has become the sort of bowler who can never be written off in the shortest format.

“He swings the new ball, brings the stumps into the play and challenges the batters upfront. He is phenomenal with those change-ups and lethal yorkers and that is the skill set you want in the T20 World Cup,” he explained.

“I feel he is going to play a massive part in the tournament and perhaps also be the best seamer,” said the veteran Philander, who is the second fastest ever to reach 50 Test wickets by touching the milestone in just seven games, was also full of praise for Bumrah’s pace colleague Mohammed Shami and said that he “uses his seam beautifully”.

“…the way he has gone to dominate at the moment is really exciting to see. The plans he had adopted when he came to bowl in South Africa. It is a tough place to bowl and one has to change the mindset from bowling on the flat subcontinental pitches to bowling here,” he said.

Philander said India seem to have cracked the code as far as producing good fast bowling talent is concerned and a share of the credit goes to former captain Virat Kohli’s vision.

“Every time India comes here, they seem to be performing better than the previous tour. In the subcontinent, Indian spinners have been winning the games but It’s just good to see the Indian team winning in Australia.

“That’s a very positive sign for India to produce those sort of bowlers… It is also on the back of great leadership.

“Virat Kohli had been a strong leader who was propelling his bowlers to go and learn and get better,” said the pacer, referring to India’s historic Test series triumph against Australia in 2018-19 under Kohli.

Philander enjoyed an excellent record against India at home and took 25 wickets in five Tests (2013 and 2018) at an average of 18. Recalling his face-offs against them, Philander said he considers Kohli the toughest opponent he has ever faced in his career.

“For me Virat has been the toughest batsman because of the way he conducts himself. As a bowler, he never gives you an opportunity to settle. From the pure mindset point of view, Virat is a very strong character and as a batsman, he makes life really difficult for the bowlers,” said the 38-year-old.

Asked if players, especially bowlers, will be turn up exhausted during the T20 World Cup as it would be happening just after the IPL, Philander said workload management would be the key.

“…I feel that you have to manage players as it is a big tournament…You want to make sure that those players get game time but the management of pacers will be the key,” he said .

He is happy with the good response to SA T20 in South Africa.

“It is a wonderfully organised tournament and the quality of cricket is right up there. South Africa Cricket needed this kind of initiative where young players are getting the chance to rub shoulders with the best in the world,” he said.

He could not be a part of the IPL in his playing career but wants to join the extravaganza as a coach or consultant.

“IPL is the one tournament you want to be a part of at one stage. Maybe now as coach or consultant. Hopefully a window will open soon where I can take part and share my knowledge with the young players,” he said.

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