India Insight

Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s pursuit of cricketing excellence

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

Barely tipping the scale at 57 kilograms (a bit more than 125 pounds), Bhuvneshwar Kumar is the antithesis of a fast bowler. In fact, he isn’t one. At best, his pace is military medium.

At 24, Kumar looks like he came straight out of junior college, and if not for his India colours, the guards at Lord’s probably wouldn’t let him enter. He has a frail build, shy disposition and an almost apologetic expression every time he beats a batsman. They are a far cry from a classic menacing fast bowler that India hopes he’ll one day become. But scratch the surface and his boyish charm gives way to a relentless desire to make him count every time he walks on to the grounds.

It’s too early to say that Kumar has turned the corner, but it’s fascinating to watch the honest effort and commitment he has brought into his game. It’s an elusive state of being — being a complete athlete — and yet every professional athlete seeks it in his own sport. Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s quest is infectious.

He not only swings the ball both ways to keep batsmen guessing, he wields his willow with the assurance of a middle-order batsman. And he has a safe pair of hands in the outfield. Kumar is good in all the three departments of the game, but what he’s seeking is excellence in each of them.

Kumar doesn’t have the sheer speed to hustle a top-order batsman. In fact, the lack of it rather perplexes a batsman, who often realizes too late how much he achieves with the ball. The pace may be harmless, but his length and movement, in the air and off the pitch, leave even the most accomplished batsmen baffled. With his nagging line and probing length, he made English batsmen look almost club class in their own backyard.

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