MUMBAI: India’s pace weapon, and Mumbai Indians‘ bowling spearhead Jasprit Bumrah is looking forward to returning to cricket after a little more than five months, like everybody else. In the middle of some high-intensity training, the bowler took time aside to speak to TOI about what the last few months were like and what’s he looking forward to.
How have the last five months been?
It’s been a very normal last few months because I’m not the kind of guy who likes to socialise much anyway. In fact, I was very happy, because I had just shifted to my new house. Ever since 2013, I never got this kind of time to spend with my family, so you can imagine what a treat these months were. I got to spend quality time in my new house, spend time with my mom.
When was the last time you spent so much time with her?
Everything was going so fast these last few years that mom didn’t even realise I’m 26 going on 27 now. In her mind, I’m still 18 going on 19. The lock down made her remember things correctly (laughs). It was so good to take some time off and reflect on what has happened so far.
A new house. So, you had enough space to train and practice?
I used to stay in an apartment earlier and even this one is an apartment, just that it’s bigger. One-floor, one flat, and just two people in the house – me and mom. So, I found myself with a lot of space to do my things, move around. Just before the lockdown we shifted here, so it was good and timely.
You had your personal gym and training facilities?
All of that was sorted because I had set it up. My personal gymnasium and other training equipment, enough space to do my routine things. The only thing missing was ground access and for that I had to wait until it opened later.
You like to begin your morning with a good run, don’t you?
I am a morning person. I love to train in the mornings, outside and leave the gym sessions and all for evening. In fact, I just enjoy those morning runs – they are a source of amazing positive energy.
After how many days did you manage to hit the field?
Initially, as soon as the series against South Africa got called off, I took a break for probably around 15-20 days… 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 thought of ways in which I could make the best of this opportunity. I realised I wouldn’t get a time like this again.
What happens when a top sportsperson doesn’t have anybody around him or her to interact with?
In my case, it was, again, the best thing that could’ve happened. I’m actually very good when there’s nobody around me. I usually like to be left alone, spend time with family.
Your diet must’ve gone through changes…
After a long time, my mother was cooking for me, I was eating with her every day. I don’t know when I’ll get that kind of time again. Such opportunities are rare, priceless.
Is your BMI the same? Did you put on weight, lose weight? After all, your mom was cooking for you…
I’m usually on the leaner side, don’t tend to put on weight easily. So, the lockdown allowed me to concentrate on a bit of muscle building. I anyways have decent eating habits, stay away from junk food. As a teenager, I ate whatever I want and used to get away with it. But ever since I turned professional, I’ve been very wary of what I consume.
It can be very hard on individuals – staying away for cheat meals. No?
Yes, and how can you be so strict on yourself! I don’t know how to cook, so mom did all the cooking and I had all the time to thoroughly enjoy it. But after the first 15-20 days, I got back to my usual self. The main aspect of my training at home was to get my muscle-mass up. I realised that once this (lockdown etc) would end, the schedule would once again become very hectic because a lot of cricket is not happening and at some point, they’ll try to cover up for this.
You must’ve figured little things about your game…
Once the partial lifting of lockdown happened, whatever access I had to an open ground, I made use of it – except there would be nobody else. 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. Basically, just enjoyed doing these things. Lockdown made me realise how much I enjoy playing this game.
The coaches and support staff must’ve been regularly coordinating…
Used to have regular interactions with my physio, trainer, some senior cricketers, discuss multiple aspects of what was working and what wasn’t etc. One of the major points of conversation was about how do we prolong our career once cricket begins. It went very well. We would get on calls to discuss various things. Then, once we started hitting the ground for outdoor training, every second week, we would be sharing details of how things are going, what has it been like etc.
Did you also watch a lot of your own cricket?
I like to, but that’s part of daily routine when you’re playing. During the lockdown, I didn’t do that. I just caught up on all the Netflix and Amazon series that I had been wanting to. It’s when you start training that watching videos help.
When you say, ‘working on the mental aspect’, what does it really mean? Can you elaborate?
Sports-specific meditation. Just to be in the present. Bringing in a bit of soft-focus. Usually, when we’re in the middle of action, there’s a lot of noise. So, how to block out that noise, how to stay in the present, how to control the controllable and things like that. When you play at the highest level, different things happen. At times frustration seeps in because something is not going your away. At times, you tend to get agitated about something. When such things happen, how do you control it, how do you ensure it doesn’t affect your game. These kinds of things I was just reiterating to myself.
It must be a comforting thought that cricketers are making a post-lockdown comeback through T20 and not Tests…
I don’t think anybody would be focusing on the format right now. Everybody just wants to return to the game. But yes, I agree. Returning to the T20 format will be relatively easier than returning to play the Tests immediately. You would need a little more preparation time for Tests. When you prepare for a Test, your body would have to be able to take the workload of 18-20 overs a day. For that, you need to bowl around 15 overs in the nets during training too. If there’s a spike in workload, then chances of injuries also potentially increase.
In 2018, you made your debut in Cape Town and since then, you’ve been like a machine on a roll…
The cricket journey so far has been very good. I have been very grateful for it and consider myself lucky. But yes, the part of me re-living those moments and processing it inside my mind is a continuous process. 2018 was full of new experiences. In South Africa, the realisation that you need to bowl back of length. In England, I had never realised the Duke ball swings so much, does so much. I had never played in such conditions before. I had only played shorter formats in the UK and the white ball doesn’t do much. Then I injured my thumb. All those instances helped me learn bit by bit.
And Australia was the real high…
Even in Australia, it was the same. In certain situations, I thought I was bowling well. At Perth, for instance, I felt it was the fastest that I ever bowled. I felt like was bowling at 155, 158. But in Perth, I did not get a lot of wickets. So, what had 2018 taught me – just keep doing to the right things, sometimes things will click, sometimes you’ll have to wait longer. Results will come. In fact, I remember saying this in the press conference after the Perth Test that it was probably the best I had every bowled then, even if the wickets didn’t come as expected. Wickets came in the next Test, at MCG. In hindsight, I bowled better at Perth, I got better results at MCG. At the end of the day, your account will get tallied.
Was it at Perth, you think, you ‘made your bones’?
I try and carry the Perth mindset everywhere. Keep doing what you do, results will follow. When I start again, I will once again go back to doing the same things. Hard work never goes in vain.
MS Dhoni has retired. Fine. But what a way to go. One Instagram message and that’s it…
Well, it was his decision, and everybody respects it. At a personal level, I made my debut (Sydney, 2016) under him and he gave me a lot of confidence. 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”. Here was me, making a nervous debut and the captain telling me “you could’ve won us this series”. He gave me a lot freedom.
Mumbai Indians are the defending champions…
When you play for a successful franchise, expectations will always be there. We have a very good team. There’s Trent Boult that I’m looking forward to bowling with. Mumbai Indians have always looked to raise the bar.
The tour of Australia is up next, after the IPL…
When we went there the last time, it was a challenging tour and a very special feeling given the result. One very important reason why any cricketer always looks forward to touring Australia is that you know nothing will come easy.