Jasprit Bumrah always thinks of cricket, says Gujarat coach

"He (Bumrah) plays for India now but whenever he represents his State, he mingles with the team-mates — he hasn't let success get to his head," says Gujarat head-coach Vijay Patel.

"Bumrah's deceptive action has helped him a lot," says Gujarat coach, Vijay Patel.   -  AP

When the world's No. 1 Test batsman, Steve Smith, hails you as one of the best bowlers in the death overs in international cricket, you must be doing something right. India's Jasprit Bumrah, with 44 wickets from 24 games at an economy rate of under five, has catapulted India's fortunes in the limited-overs format. And, much of it has to do with the fact that "he always thinks of cricket", Gujarat head-coach Vijay Patel, who has overseen Bumrah's development since the under-19 days, told Sportstar.

"It is very important — it's not like you just show up and pick wickets. You've to be mentally tuned to the task. Knowing when to up the ante and where to slow down the game is equally important.  He was up for it right from the start," Patel said.

Patel, under whose tutelage, Gujarat had won the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 title in 2012-13 and 2014-15, Vijay Hazare Trophy in 2016 and the coveted Ranji Trophy last season, believes the IPL experience has helped the 23-year-old. "Working with international bowlers at Mumbai Indians (MI) has helped him a lot. He has been with us (Gujarat) since his under-19 days and we knew then, he had what it takes to play for India," he said.

He added, "You could tell from the way he was bowling that he was preparing for elite matches. Bumrah gradually played under-23 but we didn't want to hurry him into playing Ranji and Duleep trophy matches. Once we thought he was ready, he made his first-class debut in 2013. The same year, he was picked up by MI."

Patel recollects: "I still remember — we were training in Ahmedabad and John Wright was in town for some talent hunt. He immediately picked Bumrah and Axar Patel. As I said, he (Bumrah) has always been a good learner. Also, his deceptive action has helped him a lot."

With such a unique action, how is Bumrah still able to stretch his arm — fully and straight — while delivering the ball?

"That's his natural action. You can make some adjustments but you can't change it. Previously, the trend was to be biomechanically correct in bowling — open, closed, mixed actions — if you have one particular action, you'll have this or that injury.

"As for Bumrah, a lot of people had said he'll get injuries because of his bowling action but we never tried to change his style; even at the NCA no one interfered with his action because once you change it, that 'lethal' factor will go missing.

"Of course, he has made some minor adjustments to it but that's all. And nowadays in modern cricket, physios try and strengthen specific parts of the body to withstand the grind instead of advising an overhaul. The concept has changed now."

India will be travelling to South Africa later this year before embarking on a challenging tour of England in 2018. And Patel expressed optimism, "He'll be successful — no doubt."

"Bumrah's strength is his yorker but he also has the slower one and those are the kind of deliveries you need to master in the limited-overs format.

"The pitch also plays a role. If you get help from the surface, your innovations will come into play. But if it's a flat wicket — like what we saw in Indore, you will be taken to the cleaners," Patel said.

"Bumrah is mature enough to understand what changes need to be made," he added.

Speaking of fast bowlers and killer instinct, Patel said, "He (Bumrah) knows he has got pace. I remember it was an under-19 match in Anand and we were unable to make inroads into the opposition batting. And he said 'let me bowl from around the stumps. I'll get them'. That killer instinct has made him a good bowler."

Has success changed him?

"No. He's very down-to-earth. He plays for India now but whenever he represents his State, he mingles with the team-mates — he hasn't let success get to his head."

"Because of national commitments, he doesn't get to play much for Gujarat but whenever he does, he takes wickets," Patel signed off.