The spotlight is again on Jasprit Bumrah’s unusual action after his back injury resurfaced, leading to uncertainty over his participation in the T20 World Cup.
India’s pace spearhead will be undergoing a fresh round of assessment at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore owing to his recurring back injury.
It again boils down to his uncommon, unusual action which, according to some, is the main reason behind Bumrah’s frequent spate of back injuries. “Usually, quicks with weird bowling actions are more susceptible to back-related concerns and other injuries as well,” Sunet Liebenberg, a Bloemfontein-based physiotherapist who has also worked as a physio of the West Indies in the past, told The Telegraph on Friday.
“Fast bowlers will expectedly bowl fast. But it also depends on the load they are taking. So it’s up to the support staff of a team as to how well their workload is being monitored,” she added.
Chinmoy Roy, a former NCA faculty (trainer’s course) and India A fitness coach, recalled: “Back in 2011-12, during Bumrah’s early years in the game, Bharat Arun (former India bowling coach), who was the National Cricket Academy’s head coach of fast bowling then, had clearly said that his action would lead to frequent back injuries.
“But Bharat didn’t want to remodel Bumrah’s action because of its uniqueness. However, he had also told Bumrah that with such a bowling action, he would have to live with back injuries.”
His non-bowling arm (left hand) stays sideways instead of pointing upwards, which is a more common action among the quicks, and that tends to put an extra bit of pressure on his back.
“Bumrah consistently bowls in excess of 140kmph. And then the counter-rotation of his shoulders defies the normal range and, therefore, his spine takes a lot more stress than usual,” Roy added.
Former Windies speedster Ian Bishop, currently a well-known commentator, had suffered during his career because of a stress fracture in the vertebrae. He did remodel his action and made a comeback, but wasn’t as lethal as he used to be.
Even Shane Bond, one of the best modern-day fast bowlers, had his international career cut short owing to recurring back injuries.
Australia Test captain Pat Cummins, though, has had massive gains with a remodelled action.
Stress fractures in his lower back and foot had kept Cummins away from Test cricket for over five years. But after consultation with the legendary Dennis Lillee, Cummins straightened his runup a little bit and made other small tweaks.
Coming back to Bumrah, he had spent a fair amount of time at the NCA after missing India’s final ODI of the England tour in mid-July due to back spasms. He featured in only two T20Is versus Australia earlier this month, bowling only six overs.
Yet, his back injury has resurfaced. Incidentally, Team India physio Nitin Patel was moved to the NCA a few months ago to address the rising cases of injuries to national team players.
“If one points a finger at the physio, one should also question the (NCA) fast-bowling head coach (Troy Cooley)’s role. He, too, had worked with Bumrah during the latter’s rehab/recovery,” a BCCI insider said.