Former South African fast bowler Vernon Philander says his ability to hold the line, bowl wicket-taking balls without conceding runs as well as lethal yorkers make him the most complete bowler in international cricket. He hopes that this Indian will perform better than all his contemporaries this year in the T20 World Cup in America.
On Wednesday, Bumrah became the first Indian fast bowler to become number one in the ICC Test rankings. This was after his magical performance in the second Test against England, taking nine wickets at the playing track in Visakhapatnam.
Philander, who has played 64 Test matches for South Africa and has 225 wickets to his name, said it seems there is no shortage of Bumrah's ability.
“Bumrah is the (most) complete bowler at the moment. He has great skills and has learned the art of holding the line and length and that is the reason for his success at the Test level,” Philander told PTI in an interview on the sidelines of the SA T20 tournament here. ,
“Initially, he wanted to bowl wicket-taking balls all the time and score runs, but now he has learned consistency,” he said.
The T20 World Cup will be held in West Indies and USA in June and inaugural champions India will be favorites for the title.
Philander said that the team will depend heavily on Bumrah as he has become a bowler who can never be ignored in the shortest format.
“He swings the new ball, brings the stumps into play and challenges the batsmen in advance. He is phenomenal with those variations and lethal yorkers and that is the skill set you want in the T20 World Cup,” he explained.
“I think he is going to play a big role in the tournament and probably be the best seamer as well,” said the experienced Philander, who is the second-fastest bowler to reach 50 Test wickets, reaching the milestone in just seven matches. He praised Bumrah's fast bowler Mohammed Shami and said that he “uses his seam beautifully”.
“…The way he has dominated at the moment is really exciting to watch. The plans he adopted when he came to bowl in South Africa. This is a difficult place to bowl and the mindset will have to change to bowl here instead of bowling on the flat pitches of the subcontinent.
Philander said that as far as producing good fast bowling talent is concerned, India seems to have broken this rule and the credit for this goes to the thinking of former captain Virat Kohli.
“Whenever India comes here, they seem to perform better than the last tour. Indian spinners have been winning matches in the subcontinent but it is good to see the Indian team winning in Australia.
“It is a very positive sign for India to produce bowlers like that… It is also because of the great leadership.
“Virat Kohli was a strong leader who was pushing his bowlers to learn and get better,” the fast bowler said, referring to India's historic Test series win against Australia in 2018-19 under Kohli's leadership.
Philander made an excellent record against India on home soil and took 25 wickets at an average of 18 in five Test matches (2013 and 2018). Recalling his encounters against him, Philander said that he considered Kohli to be the toughest opponent he has faced so far in his career. ,
He said, “For me, Virat has been the toughest batsman because of his conduct. As a bowler he never gives you a chance to settle down. From a pure mentality point of view, Virat is a very strong character and as a batsman, he makes life really difficult for the bowlers,” the 38-year-old said.
Asked whether players, especially bowlers, would be tired during the T20 World Cup as it would be right after the IPL, Philander said workload management would be important.
“…I think you have to manage the players because it's a big tournament… you want to make sure those players get game time but managing the fast bowlers will be important,” he said.
He is happy with the good response the SA T20 has received in South Africa.
“It is a brilliantly organized tournament and the quality of cricket is perfect. South African cricket needed such an initiative where young players are getting the opportunity to rub shoulders with the best players in the world.
He could not be a part of IPL in his playing career but wants to join IPL as a coach or consultant.
“IPL is a tournament you want to be a part of at some stage. Maybe now as a coach or consultant. Hopefully, soon a window will open where I can participate and share my knowledge with the young players.