Euro 2020 Special

Bumrah Undergoes Back Surgery: Race to Be Fit in Time for the World Cup

Indian fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah faces a race to be fit in time for the World Cup later this year after undergoing back surgery in New Zealand earlier this week.

It is the latest attempt to fix a long standing problem with the pacer, which threatens to derail his career and deprive India of one of their most potent weapons for the tournament which they ate hosting.

He has not played a single minute of competitive cricket since last September.


A history of back problems

Bumrah, who is now 29 years old, has a history of back problems which has been attributed to his unorthodox low slingy front-on bowling style which puts a lot of stress on his back.  In addition, the fact that he has a very short run-up means that he has a higher risk of injuries than most players because of the pressure put on his lumbar region when he lands.

In 2019, he was ruled out of action for three months with a stress fracture, and he has previously consulted orthopaedic specialists in London as to the best way to manage his ongoing issues.

His current ails began last August when he was forced to pull out of the Asia Cup after reporting more back pain.

He was sufficiently recovered the next month to be named in India’s squad for the T20 World Cup, but then he pulled out of the home white ball series with South Africa after suffering a stress reaction in his lower back. That also ruled him out of the T20 World Cup.

It was hoped that he could make a comeback in January for the home white ball series against Sri Lanka, but more niggles in the back put paid to that. And more recently, despite Rohit Sharma making optimistic noises that he could be fit enough to play in the last two tests against Australia, he was not in any condition to be considered.

He has been under the close supervision of the medical staff at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru, who, after conventional treatment had failed to produce the desired outcome, suggest that he consider surgery at an option.

He had the choice of undergoing the operation in London or Mumbai, but eventually chose New Zealand as the specialists there had experience of treating sportspeople with his type of condition.

Having had the operation, he is expected to remain in New Zealand until the end of the month, recuperating before returning to India for further treatment.


The road map

The NCA staff have plotted out a road map for his return to action with the hope that he will be able to resume training and bowling again by August.

If all that goes well, then the intention is to gradually increase his workload with the ultimate objective of having him fully fit in time for the World Cup that starts in October.

At the same time, care must be taken not to rush him back too soon. Arguably, some of his current problems have stemmed from the fact that he has tried to make comebacks in the past when his body was not ready for the pressures placed on it.

Repeating the same mistake this time could have serious long-term consequences for his ability to compete at the top level again.


India have missed him

There is no doubt that India have missed a bowler who remains fifth in the ICC test rankings despite not having bowled a competitive delivery in more than six months. They have no equivalent strike bowler, and arguably he could have made the difference for them in the T20 World Cup.

And should India get there, his absence in the World Test Championship (WTC) Final against Australia at The Oval in June could be keenly felt.

On India’s last tour of England, he thrived on the green wickets and there is no obvious replacement for him in terms of skill set.

It is not just the fact that he takes wicket but his control that makes him stand out. His 128 test victims have come at a cost of less than 22 runs each, whilst he is only marginally more expensive in terms of ODIs.




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