Dubai: Strength and conditioning exercises help a sportsman get in better shape, stay fitter, stronger and more athletic, which is why Mumbai Indians’ main strike bowler, Jasprit Bumrah, used his lockdown time wisely to hone his body.
Like so many other players, the Indian Premier League, which begins next week, will be Bumrah’s first competition since March when the coronavirus pandemic brought all major sport to a halt.
Last season’s leading wicket-taker for champions Mumbai, where he bagged 19 wickets, Bumrah is looking to “raise the bar” as he shares the new ball with New Zealand pacer Trent Boult once the 13th edition of the tournament starts in Abu Dhabi on September 19.
Mumbai take on Chennai Super Kings in the event’s opening match in the UAE capital.
“The lockdown made me realise how much I enjoy playing this game,” Bumrah said in a Times of India article posted on the Indians website.
“Initially, as soon as the series against South Africa got called off (in March), I took a break for probably around 15-20 days and did nothing.
“Then I gradually returned to my routine workouts at home, slowly started working on my body. One of the things I realised was this would be the best time for me to work on aspects that need time and space — also the mental aspect.
“I’m usually on the leaner side, and don’t tend to put on weight easily. So, the lockdown allowed me to concentrate on a bit of muscle building. The main aspect of my training at home was to get my muscle-mass up.”
Few cricketers have been able to achieve the rapid progress that Bumrah managed to emerge as India’s leading strike bowler. With his unorthodox action the 26-year-old from the western state of Gujarat troubled the best batsmen in the world and also has the distinction of five-wicket hauls in South Africa, England and Australia.
Bumrah was so committed to improving his skills that he even trained at empty grounds often spending hours bowling to a single wicket.
“Once the partial lifting of lockdown happened, whatever access I had to open ground, I made use of it — except there would be nobody else,” he said.
“So, it was like a small kid playing alone in a park. A month of bowling on a single wicket can teach you a lot of things. You tend to think more about how you’re running in, the angles at which your arm is coming down, sticking to a line, etc.
“For instance, figuring things that were not going for me, working on them, going back to a lot of basics. Bowling stump to stump can sound boring but it’s a great teacher. Bowling yorkers without a batsman facing it. I just enjoyed doing these things.”
Bumrah also said that he was in constant touch with his physios, coaches, with what he described as “conversation” as he trained on his own.
“I used to have regular interactions with my physio, trainer, some senior cricketers, discuss multiple aspects of what was working and what wasn’t, etc,” he said, “One of the major points of conversation was about how we prolong our career once cricket begins. It went very well.
“Then, once we started hitting the ground for outdoor training, every second week, we would be sharing details of how things are going.”
Bumrah also feels that returning to the T20 format with the IPL will be relatively easier than returning to Test cricket.
“I don’t think anybody would be focusing on the format right now. Everybody just wants to return to the game,” he said. “But yes, I agree. Returning to the T20 format will be relatively easier than returning to play the Tests immediately.”
Reflecting on his career, and making his international debut under the captaincy of MS Dhoni, Bumrah said: “The cricket journey so far has been very good. I have been very grateful for it and consider myself lucky.
“Not many people know that Mahi bhai had never seen me bowl, at any level. In my debut game, I was going to bowl in the death overs and I asked him ‘can I bowl yorkers?’ and he was like ‘no, don’t bowl yorkers’.
“He thought since it was a difficult delivery, I wouldn’t be able to pull it off. I told him ‘in death overs, I don’t know what else to do’. So, anyway, I went ahead and did my thing and then he came to me and was like ‘I didn’t know this at all. You should’ve come earlier, we would’ve won the whole series’.”