'I always wanted to play Test cricket. I just didn't want to be a cricketer who played One-Dayers and T20s and just goes away.'
Jasprit Bumrah on why playing Test cricket is so important for him. Rediff.com's Harish Kotian listens in.
India's fast bowling sensation Jasprit Bumrah says playing Test cricket is a dream come true for him and he always believed that he could make an impact in the longer format despite starting off as a limited overs specialist.
"I give a lot of importance to Test cricket. As a domestic player, someone who has played a lot of Ranji Trophy cricket, I always wanted to make a mark in Test cricket. I always had the belief that if I could do well in first class cricket then I could replicate that in Test matches as well," the fast bowler said in Mumbai on Friday, September 13, on the sidelines of an event where he was named as the brand ambassador of Seagram's Royal Stag.
"The journey has been good. I have started playing Test cricket now so playing all three formats, which was always my dream. The journey has been good, it has just started and hopefully a long way to go. So believing in myself, taking one step at a time, and be it any situation just backing yourself to the hilt has been my philosophy," he further added.
Bumrah has made a dream start to his Test career, becoming the fastest Indian pacer and the third fastest overall to pick up 50 wickets, achieving the landmark in only his 11th match.
Since making his debut against South Africa in January last year, Bumrah has racked up an impressive 62 wickets in 12 Tests at an average of 19.
"For me Test cricket was very important, I always wanted to play Test cricket. I just didn't want to be a cricketer who played One-Dayers and T20s and just goes away.
"I was really happy when I made my Test debut after playing two years of international cricket. I made my Test debut in South Africa, it was a dream come true. I was really happy, just being there and playing in the white jersey was a great feeling and slowly, slowly contributing towards the team success gave me a lot of satisfaction," he added.
The 25 year old proved to be unstoppable in the recent Test series in thenWest Indies, picking up as many as 13 wickets in the two Test series, including a hat-trick in the second match in Jamaica.
He will once again be India's main strike bowler as they come up against South Africa, in a three-match Test series, starting at Visakhapatnam on October 2.
This will be the first time that Bumrah will be playing a Test on home soil and he will draw upon all the experience of his senior team-mates Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami on how to bowl in Indian conditions.
"I have played all my cricket in India before playing for the country so these are not alien conditions for me. But playing Test matches will be a different experience, I am looking forward to it."
"The preparations have already started, as soon as I join we will discuss with the team "management and the senior players, who have played a lot of cricket over here as to what works, what doesn't work, so will take everything into consideration and let's see how it goes," he said.
Bumrah, Ishant and Shami has formed a deadly pace bowling trio that has seen India register Test series wins in Australia and the West Indies in the last 12 months. Combined, the three pacers have picked up 172 wickets since 2018 -- the most by any fast bowling attack in the world during this period.
"It is very good, all of us are very close to each other, we hang out together. There is a lot of camaraderie as well. Obviously, Ishant and Shami have played a lot more cricket than I have so I try to ask them if they have come here before, in foreign conditions or home conditions and then we find out how things are, then we try to motivate each other if anything is not working or maybe working on how we can improve, so it is a great relationship and hopefully from here we can contribute," said the young fast bowler.
Bumrah's sensational showing in the West Indies, when he picked up a five-wicket haul in both Tests, came after he was rested for the limited overs series following a gruelling few months including the IPL and World Cup.
When asked if the rest helped him fire on all cylinders in West Indies, Bumrah replied: "A lot of thought process goes behind this (decision). It's just not that I will just rest from white ball cricket, a lot of preparation goes on because if you go on playing all three formats, you need to be fresh as well."
"So when you come back after a break, you are hungry, you want to do well again and all of that plays a massive role for you to be fit and fresh."
Unlike some other fast bowlers, who like to be aggressive with their on-field attitude, Bumrah says he doesn't like to lose his temper on the field.
"See sometimes you do get angry but you try to control the controllables. When I started playing, I realised that if you get angry or show unnecessary emotions, it doesn't help, it is waste of energy."
"During that time, I try to stay calm, I try to smile, I tell myself 'see you are playing international cricket, you are playing at the highest level, which you always wanted to do as a child, so why are you getting frustrated? very few people get this opportunity.' So at that moment I feel grateful, I feel happy that I am playing at this level and small frustrations here and there happen but just be happy with the opportunities that I have got," he said.
The Gujarat fast bowler says a lot of hard work has gone into his successful career so far and he doesn't take anything for granted.
"A lot of work is done behind the camera which is not seen by the people. Whenever I train, I really train hard, I don't try to go for shortcuts, every training session is high intensity, I do a lot of hard work, I do a lot of preparation, I take care of myself and try to sleep on time."
"I take care of my diet, sometimes here and there you could have a cheat day, but more often than not you tick all the boxes, so all of that contributes towards it and in the end you see the result when you are playing."