How good a bowler is Jasprit Bumrah? Clearly he is a very good bowler with the potential to be a great one. He has impressed experts the world over with his pace, bounce, variations, and most importantly his ability to bowl yorkers at will. He has excelled in all three formats of the game and so good is he that it is difficult to pinpoint his favorite – something that cannot be said about some of the other leading bowlers who shine in one format but do not have the same splendid record in other formats. In some cases, they do not even command a regular place in more than one format.

Bumrah is young, fit, willing to work hard on his craft, and has this happy knack of adapting admirably to the intricacies of the various formats. Of course, there is always the danger of burnout and that is why a precocious talent like Bumrah will have to be handled with care with adequate rest and rotation being important. Under the circumstances, the last thing that Bumrah needs is to be put under pressure but that’s what Courtney Walsh’s latest comment about the 26-year-old bowler must have done. The former West Indian fast bowling great who was the first to reach the 500-wicket landmark in Tests said recently that Bumrah has the potential to reach the same heights as the English duo of James Anderson and Stuart Broad who recently crossed the 600-wicket and 500-wicket mark. Walsh however added the obvious rider that he will have to stay fit.

Bumrah has played 14 Tests and taken 68 wickets at 20.33 apiece. Excellent as the figures are his career is at a nascent stage and to talk in terms of him reaching 500 wickets, let alone 600 is clearly premature, to put it mildly. For one thing, he has to stay fit over prolonged periods as Walsh has pointed out. Secondly, it must not be forgotten that all his wickets have been taken abroad – in the West Indies, Australia, England, New Zealand, and South Africa. He has yet to play a Test in India where conditions are less helpful to fast bowlers.

In any case it is a very long way to go before one can talk about such daunting figures. Anderson has played for 17 years and has figured in 156 Tests, Broad has played for 13 years and has figured in 143 games. While praising a young bowler who is as gifted as Bumrah undoubtedly is one must be careful in choosing the words. We can say with certainty that he will go far and achieve a lot of laurels and cross a number of significant landmarks but let us not talk of stats that are clearly beyond him at the moment.

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