The moment my phone started buzzing, first with push notifications and WhatsApp messages and then that call from a verified insider stating that India’s best fast bowler of this generation, Jasprit Bumrah, was ruled out of the upcoming T20 World Cup in Australia with a stress fracture, my heart sank.
And though news of Bumrah being out of the T20 World Cup is crippling, it does not take away from what he has become and achieved and symbolizes.
Bumrah is on his way to becoming one of India’s finest fast bowlers, thanks to his hunger for success and unique vision.
Seated cross-legged on a sofa, one floor up from where he spent several hours smiling for the cameras, Bumrah exudes a distinct calmness in his thoughts and words, even when talking about the tough times.
He is naturally confident and upbeat. I notice across the five-odd hours I get to observe him going about what he later admits, chuckling, was trickier for him than a session of Test cricket.
During this observation period, the mind flashes back to visuals of Bumrah—a fast bowler whose job is traditionally to bowl quick and intimidate and be in the batsman’s face—smiling boyishly and exuberantly between deliveries and after taking wickets.
Has he always been like this, I wonder, or has this come with being an international cricketer, being in the public space, having to meet all sorts of people?
“No, I was not always like this. When I started playing cricket, it was the other way around. I was a little too aggressive, always on the go, always sitting on the edge…I could get angry quickly. But then I realized that moving further, if my emotions are not kept in check, there will be a lot of variation in my results. I quickly understood that if this was the game that I always wanted to excel in, I needed to figure out how to control my emotions. Stability helps. I learned that you learn from experiences and make mistakes on the go. I chose to look at these experiences and then asked myself how I could get the best out of these situations.”
Bumrah has been described as an artist because of his smoothness and fluency with a cricket ball in his hand, across three formats and with alarming regularity.
But he is not naturally comfortable with the word or any such moniker attached to his name.
The pervading love of cricket, and specifically fast bowling, that Bumrah has seems intellectually interesting in a manner that you would associate a painter and his canvas with.
“An artist? It could be, but it depends on what people perceive, right? It could be for some people, and it might not be for some. For me, this profession is something that I always wanted to do, and it gives me a lot of joy and satisfaction, so the validation that I get that I feel when I bowl is immense, It’s not just about getting results. It doesn’t mean I only like the game when I take five wickets—or those days when I don’t take wickets are a task. No. Then you’re enjoying success more than the game. And I’m not that person.”he says.
Fast bowling can be a very raw and vulnerable space to be in because you are in the moment, dealing with so much. Yet Bumrah always comes across as serene. Is that an act or innate? “It’s not an act because I’ve learned this hard.
When I was coming up, I was like any other fast bowler who gets angry, has that aggression, and has that fire. And I still do, but I try to use it to my advantage. Because if my emotions get better, then I’m not thinking clearly.”
On the subject of stability, Bumrah is keen to give much credit to his marriage to the sports presenter and former model Sanjana Ganesan in 2021.
“Marriage has completely changed me because initially, when you come into the professional cricket set-up, you have to be laser-focused, as you’re trying to make a mark. Your attention is wholly on the game,”he says.
“But when you get married, you get a different perspective. Now cricket is not the only factor. You have to focus on your wife, and you have to give her attention. You can switch off from the game. You can come back refreshed. You have to take care of the other person, you have to look after what’s going on. You’ve got someone always there by your side when things go well or don’t go well. That’s when you get a different perspective. You’ve got a strong pillar next to you. It’s made my life a lot better. I’m much calmer, kinder, and more relaxed.”
During our 45-minute conversation, Bumrah shifts his position twice: once to cross his legs while seated in the same place, and a second time when I draw his attention to the shiny white pair of Nike Air Force 1 “West Indies” sneakers, he’s wearing. “I do enjoy sneakers—a lot.
My collection is massive, and we don’t have enough space at home, and I get a lot of flak for it. Wherever I go, I pick up three or four pairs and realize that I don’t have enough space.”
Talk loops back to Bumrah’s base in Ahmedabad. He has moved out of the old housing complex and into a far more swanky home but makes sure to stay in touch with the friends he grew up with.
His inner circle is “very proud” of Bumrah’s success, and they still speak to him the same way they did in the compound. He likes it that way but is quick to add, with a chuckle, that they’ve stopped sharing their opinions themselves directly.
“They’re passionate, but even if they have certain opinions, it doesn’t reach me. They talk among themselves, and it dies there,”he says.