Home > Features >

Bhuvneshwar Kumar: The classic case of an Indian paceman

Bhuvneshwar started offf as the brightest swing prospect since the fall of Irfan Pathan © AFP
Bhuvneshwar Kumar started off as the brightest swing prospect in India since the fall of Irfan Pathan © AFP

By Sudatta Mukherjee

Somewhere around January 2009, a boy from Meerut, a month short of turning 19, became the first Indian bowler to dismiss the Indian batting legend Sachin Tendulkar for a duck in a First-Class match. It was the Ranji Trophy final of 2008-09 season.

Fast forward to 2013: the same boy, now a 23-year-old, took the whole cricket world by surprise with his ability to swing the ball both ways and for picking up the wicket of Mohammad Hafeez with his the first ball of his One-Day International debut (thus being only the second Indian to achieve this feat). A year afterwards that same youngster, for whom swinging the ball was his greatest strength, struggles and his bowling average since October 2013 is 67.25.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Even though his ODI economy rate is 5.55, Bhuvneshwar has barely been able to pick up wickets since the home ODI series against Australia. Before India’s match against Pakistan in the Asia Cup 2014, his last two-wicket haul came in November against West Indies at home and before that against Sri Lanka at Port of Spain in July or else he has been picking single wickets in most matches since October, 2013.

What went wrong?

When the likes of Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra had broken into the international scene, seniors like Javagal Srinath and Venkatesh Prasad were still playing. Zaheer and Nehra were well guided by Srinath and Prasad, i.e., the pressure didn’t come to youngsters like to the duo. When Irfan Pathan and Lakshmipathy Balaji had made their debut, there were Anil Kumble and Ajit Agarkar. Kumble might not have been a pacer, but it is common knowledge how influential he can be as a mentor (he has guided the Mumbai Indians to Indian Premier League (IPL) and Champions League T20 wins last season).

After Zaheer and Nehra’s debut, 29 fast bowlers have played for India, including Irfan and Balaji. The list also includes the likes of RP Singh, S Sreesanth, Munaf Patel, Ishant Sharma, R Vinay Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron, Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar. And we are not even counting the all-rounders like Stuart Binny. It clearly shows that India do produce fast bowlers, but what is the reason behind most of them failing?

A good potential like Sreesanth had destroyed his career by getting involved in spot-fixing and other disciplinary issues. Ishant, who leads the pace bowling department when Zaheer isn’t playing, has not performed as was expected from him. Moreover, he doesn’t want to be regarded as the senior bowler. For the likes of Yadav, Aaron and Vinay Kumar, they are yet to be shaped and molded in the best shape for international games.

For the last one year, the way Shami and Bhuvneshwar have performed for India, no other bowlers have. As a result, they have almost always opened the bowling for the team, even if Ishant has been there. However, the problem lies in the duo not receiving guidance from the likes of Zaheer. Zaheer had been away from the international circuit and had only returned during the tour to South Africa.

Shami, on the other hand, has played fewer of ODI games than Bhuvneshwar, but has emerged as a better bowler. This can be due to Shami being mentored by Wasim Akram at the Kolkata Knight Riders till last season. He also has the advantage of being a faster bowler.

As for Bhuvneshwar, he looks up to Praveen Kumar, who last played an ODI for India in March 2012, who has been rebuked time and over for his on-field behavior. Allan Donald was the head coach of Pune Warriors India when Bhuvneshwar played for them. However, a poor season had affected them more and players like Bhuvneshwar hardly got a chance to bloom.

What should be done?

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) should take the responsibility of shaping young bowlers like Bhuvneshwar. India should take a lesson out of Australia’s book: Cricket Australia (CA) had hired Craig McDermott has their bowling coach and, of late, Shane Warne as the spin bowling coach. They exactly know how to keep their bowlers at their very best, and we saw how Ryan Harris, Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon performing commendably under their capable supervision. Someone like Zaheer, Manoj Prabhakar, TA Sekar or Kumble should be approached by BCCI to help the young Indian players to perform better.

Having said that, it also depends on the player whether they want to be taught and whether they want to learn.

(Sudatta Mukherjee is a reporter with CricketCountry. Other than writing on cricket, she spends penning random thoughts on her blog and produces weekly posts on new food joints at Whopping Weekends. She played Table Tennis for University of Calcutta. When she is not writing, you will catch her at a movie theatre or watching some English serial on her laptop. Her Twitter id is @blackrosegal)

India tour of England 2014

Jul 27, 2014 (15:30 IST)   at Southampton

Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Aug 6, 2014 (10:00 IST)   at Galle

India tour of England 2014

Aug 7, 2014 (15:30 IST)   at Manchester

South Africa in Zimbabwe, 2014

Aug 9, 2014 (13:30 IST)   at Harare

Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Aug 14, 2014 (10:00 IST)   at Colombo

More

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe, 2014

Jul 24, 2014  at Bulawayo

Afghanistan won by 100 runs

South Africa tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Jul 24, 2014  at Colombo

Match drawn

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe, 2014

Jul 22, 2014  at Bulawayo

Afghanistan won by 2 wkts

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe, 2014

Jul 20, 2014  at Bulawayo

Zimbabwe won by 8 wkts

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe, 2014

Jul 18, 2014  at Bulawayo

Zimbabwe won by 6 wkts

Photos

India vs England 2014, 3rd Test

Videos

Highlights of Phil Hughes' double ton

Jacques Kallis retires from international cricket: Long live the King

Jacques Kallis retires from international cricket: The last great pace bowling all-rounder

India vs England Live Cricket Score 3rd Test Day 4 at Southampton: Hosts in command

Alastair Cook England England vs India England vs India 2014 Ian Bell India India tour of England 2014 India vs England India vs England 2014 South Africa South Africa tour of Sri Lanka 2014 South Africa vs Sri Lanka 2014 Sri Lanka Sri Lanka vs South Africa Sri Lanka vs South Africa 2014

India vs England 2014, Day 4 of 3rd Test at Southampton: It will be difficult for India to save the match, says Shikhar Dhawan

India vs England 2014, Day 4 of 3rd Test at Southampton: England are desperate to win, says Joe Root

James Anderson in fresh controversy during India-England 3rd Test at Southampton?

India vs England 2014, Day 4 of 3rd Test at Southampton: Defeat stares as Indians continue to find ways of getting out

Alex Doolan looking forward to first Indian tour

India vs England 2014, 3rd Test at Southampton: India’s lacklustre performance, Moeen Ali’s rise as a spinner and other highlights of play on Day 4

Jacques Kallis retires from international cricket: A symbol of genius encompassing almost two decades

Jacques Kallis retires from international cricket: Long live the King

Jacques Kallis retires from international cricket: How the legend began

Jacques Kallis retires from international cricket: The last great pace bowling all-rounder

Fan of the Day

Fan Cricket

Fan Cricket

11 Posts | 2 Fans

Brazil vs Netherlands, 3rd place Fifa World Cup 2014 match Video Highlights

India vs England 2014, Day 4 of 3rd Test at Southampton: England are desperate to win, says Joe Root

Rafael to miss rest of Man Utd’s tour of the USA with groin injury

Prevent Diabetes Tip – get regular health check-ups

Ajay Devgn gets 2500 cops shirtless in Singham Returns!

India vs England 2014, Day 4 of 3rd Test at Southampton: It will be difficult for India to save the match, says Shikhar Dhawan

Do Xiaomi smartphones covertly spy on its users?

Motorola Moto G gets Rs 2,000 off on Flipkart

Will Nawazuddin Siddiqui throw a success bash for Salman Khan’s Kick?

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here