Today we welcome Leo McGuinn back to TFT. He looks at the Test careers of two genuinely world class fast bowlers …
A man was born in 1993 in Westmead, New South Wales, an outer suburb of Sydney. He was tipped for stardom from the very beginning. His test debut was only his fourth first-class match and at 18 years of age, became Australia’s youngest test cricketer since 1953. He lived up to his billing, taking 6/79 in the second innings and winning man of the match.
Injuries robbed five years of his test career but since his return in 2017, he has been consistently ranked the best bowler in the world. This man is of course Pat Cummins.
Another man was born in the same year, some 6,500 miles away in the sprawling metropolis of Ahmedabad. Raised by a single mother who worked as a schoolteacher to help fuel her sons’ ambition to play for his country.
He soon became known for his searing yorkers and unusual action. Domestic recognition paved the way for international honours, making his test debut, like Cummins, in South Africa. Only 24 at the time, he bowled like a man with many more years of experience. He cleaned up AB de Villiers for his maiden wicket. Not bad. He looked born to play the role of a bowling superstar. This man is Japrit Bumrah.
There are lots of differences between Bumrah and Cummins. The Australian towers over his peer at 6’4 compared to Bumrah’s modest 5’10. The much-fabled bowling action of Bumrah is of course totally unique, while Cummins’ more traditional action is just as effective, although different to the one he debuted with. The paceman spent years tinkering with his action to avoid a repeat of a recurring back injury that put a halt to his test career. They are much different batsman, Cummins being a handy lower-order bat and Bumrah being, well, a lower-order bat.
It’s the similarities between the two fast bowlers that are a lot more interesting. If their careers ae studied in detail, one could be forgiven for mistaking one for the other.
Their wicket taking records are remarkably similar. Cummins has played nearly double the number of tests, 34, and has taken 164 wickets. Compared to Bumrah and 83 wickets in 18 matches. This adds up to 4.82 wickets per match for Cummins and 4.61 for Bumrah.
Their strike rates match up also, Cummins taking a wicket every 47.1 balls and Bumrah 48.6. Their records are consistent everywhere they have played. Cummins home and away records are almost identical, highlighting his effectiveness on any pitch. Bumrah’s away record is, well, essentially his whole record. Remarkably the test defeat against England was his home debut. It makes it even more special that he averaged under 22 while not playing a single test at home.
That bring us onto the two men’s averages. Again very similar. Not just similar, but almost identical. Before the England game both men averaged exactly 21.59 in test cricket (Bumrah has gone up slightly to 21.89 now). Despite their differences the two premium quicks seem to be linked by their stats.
Their wicket taking records may be strikingly alike, but how they came about those wickets is strikingly different.
When it comes to the modes of dismissal, there is a stark contrast between the two men. The vast majority of Cummins wickets are out caught, either by keeper or fielders. In fact, he has only taken 8 wickets by method of LBW across his whole test career.
Bumrah is very different in this aspect. He has nearly triple the number of LBWs and a higher percentage bowled.
The Indian paceman clearly targets the stumps more and Cummins bowls a higher amount on a fourth or fifth stump line. Clearly there’s more than one way to be a highly successful test bowler.
Another difference between the men is Cummins incredible consistency. This is not to say Bumrah isn’t consistent but when it comes to bowling returns no-one comes close to the consistency of the Aussie.
Both bowlers have failed to take a wicket in only five of the innings they have bowled in but for Cummins it is out of 65 compared to Bumrah’s 36.
Cummins also has an incredible knack of just missing out on fifers. The big Aussie quick has 12 four wicket hauls compared to only 5 fifers. Bumrah already has 5 fifers and has taken four wickets without converting it into a fifer only once. In fact, despite being the top wicket taker in the 2019 Ashes, Cummins did not take five wickets in an innings once, despite taking at least three wickets in eight of England’s ten completed innings.
This is not a negative about Cummins, it just goes to highlight his incredible consistency. He very rarely, if ever, has an off day with the ball.
The two men have remarkable similarities and marked differences but at 27 years of age they should both be entering their prime as test match fast-bowlers.
Given their pace and skills, the two are well set to dominate opposition batsmen for years to come. Fast bowling is as healthy as ever and cricket is all the better for it.
Great article and really looking forward to seeing Bumrah in England this summer. At present Cummins is my number 1. Always fast and that feeling that he can take a wicket anytime.
A well-researched article on both tormentors. Both have bowled their hearts out for their teams. And Bumrah’s away series record is really awesome. Even the great Kapil Dev didn’t take that many wickets away from home. But at the home front, Kapil Dev’s efforts were excellent considering sub-continent flat pitches. Of course, Bumrah is yet to be tested seriously in the home pitches. Cummins, the No.1 Test bowler is lethal both in-home and away conditions. Let’s see how they are peaking from now onwards.
“Even the great Kapil Dev didn’t take that many wickets away from home.”
What on earth are you on? Kapil’s wickets are split almost exactly home and away (219 to 215). His average away from home is somewhat higher, almost entirely because of his record in England where he averaged 39. He averaged 23 in WI and 28 in Aus/NZ.
In which meaning of “almost entirely”?! He also averaged 42 in New Zealand, 40 in Pakistan, 37 in South Africa and 33 in Sri Lanka…
Bumrah’s record is distorted by 13 wickets at an average under 10 against WI. Without that (and yeah go on about #RootMaths) his record is about 70 wickets at an average in the upper 20s. That’s more where he is imo, a good and still largely unproven seamer but not in Cummins’ class. He also had the good fortune to play two series in Australia when an already less than vintage Australian batting line-up was not at full strength (in particluar first time around they were missing both Smith and Warner).
Why do Indian players need this puffing up? Are indians so insecure they need this sort of thing? It’s bizarre.
The game itself also doesn’t need puffing up. There’s a decent selection of fast bowlers around at the moment and it’s certainly a better collection than in, for example, the first half of the 2010s. However the 1980s and 1990s it isn’t.
Hey Simon, Bumrah’s very much a work in progress in Test cricket, but he’s surely the world’s best white-ball pacer? Maybe not as good as Starc at his best, but surely much more consistent. A legend in LOIs already, according to many – and with good reason too!
As for the part about Indians being insecure, I must confess I don’t like the generalisation. But the press as well as the fans do have a tendency to hyperbolise mere glimpses of talent in the hopes of seeing something extraordinary before it’s time for a player to bloom, case in point being Pant. But the Indian media also tends to hyperbolise the shortcomings of players still developing themselves, so I guess it works both ways.
Your “yeah RootMaths talk nah” comment would carry a lot more weight, Simon, if you could get the figures right, and also if you were able to compare like with like!
Bumrah’s average without the WI series is 24.23–which is not upper 20s in any way. But you’ve also missed the fact that Cummins has more wickets at a lower average (14 at 7.78 to be exact) against Sri Lanka–unlike Bumrah against WI, on home pitches. The fact that this inflates his average by less than Bumrah’s is solely due to the fact that he’s played twice as many tests. At the point where he did it, he’d played a very similar number of tests to Bumrah now and had a very similar record; if you take away the SL series at that point in his career, it makes more difference to his figures than taking away Bumrah’s WI series.
But you’ve also introduced so many qualifications to Bumrah’s record that they become meaningless–and again, you’re overegging the pudding: the 2018 Australians might have had a weakened batting line-up, but this time the only batsmen missing at any point was someone who was yet to make his debut at the start of the series and another player who averaged 16 in the matches where he did play.. You’re essentially saying that Bumrah’s crap apart from his good performances.
And like Abhijato, I wasn’t keen on the insecure Indians comment–it reads like racist drivel, to be frank–but I was more amazed by its sheer stupidity. This piece was written by someone who doesn’t seem to be Indian, so you seem to be holding Indian players morally responsible for what foreigners write about them, which is simply bizarre. You seem overall to be taking two opinions you don’t agree with and concocting a flimsy argument about a billion people from it. That’s way odder than two different people writing positive pieces about one of the world’s best seamers and a man who’s just played an innings which no other player on either side could come close to matching.
I’m sure England were as glad Bumrah wasn’t playing in the last test as they were Anderson wasn’t.
I don’t get that feeling of inevitability with Cummins that I used to feel with McGrath. I still rate Stark as more of a wicket threat as he has that x-factor ball, whereas Cummins is more consistent but also more predicable. Cummins ,Hazelwood and Stark are for me as an England fan more worrying than Bumrah and co. However it’s great to see so many class seamers around at the same time. Anderson, Broad and Archer measure up pretty well against either. Indeed almost every test playing country has a useful seam attack at the moment. It’s a decently time to be watching international cricket.