How Stuart Broad and Jasprit Bumrah combined to make history

·5 min read
<span>Photograph: Alex Davidson/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Alex Davidson/Getty Images

India are nine down, the last pair are in, and Stuart Broad knows exactly what he wants to do. Bounce them. Jasprit Bumrah is in and Bumrah can’t bat, not really. You can count his career average on your fingers. He’s only made one fifty in 12 years of cricket, and after four years in the Test side he has a top score of 34. That was at Lord’s last summer, in the second Test of this same stretched-out series. England tried to bump him in that innings, too, in revenge for the way he had bowled at Jimmy Anderson. It didn’t work. But Broad hadn’t played in that match. Maybe it would have been different if he had. So yes, bounce him.

A day earlier, Bumrah walked out for the toss. This is the first time he has captained India. He is their 36th Test captain and, as Mark Butcher says in their pre-match chat, the first fast bowler. “Well,” Bumrah says, “it has happened before, when Kapil Dev was the captain.” But Dev was an all-rounder, Butcher says. “All right, all-rounder, if you say so,” Bumrah replies. No one’s ever going to say that about him.

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Dev certainly never batted down where Bumrah does. Not many regular captains have; Bob Willis, Bishan Bedi and Courtney Walsh did, Ian Johnson too. That’s about it. Which raises the question, how should a captain bat when they play in the tail?

Broad’s first ball is up into Bumrah’s armpit, he swivels on his heels and pulls it to long leg, where Zak Crawley misses it and it scuttles over the rope for four. So the second delivery is shorter, it beats Bumrah and the keeper too, flies away for five wides. Broad spins on a heel.

His third ball is back at Bumrah’s armpit. He flaps at it as if he is trying to crack a piñata and it shoots away off his top edge for six. The umpire has his arm up, too. Broad has overstepped. Somehow the over has cost 16 runs and there are still five deliveries to go. Broad stops mid-pitch and strokes his chin, grins, thinking, now, that this is beginning to get messy.

He has been here before. Fifteen years ago, Yuvraj Singh took him for 36 in the World T20. Now Yuvraj really could bat. Bumrah, though, plays like a man who has never done it before. It’s as if the pilot has died and he has been pulled out of the crowd to land the plane. He’s frantic and off balance and surely about to get out any moment.

Broad on the other hand has 550 Test wickets and he took the last of them five minutes earlier when he had Mohammed Shami caught at third man. Only five men have ever taken more. Only two of them were fast bowlers. He was feeling good about Test cricket just a moment ago.

Jasprit Bumrah hits a six off Stuart Broad.
Jasprit Bumrah hits a six off Stuart Broad. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images

So what did he do to Yuvraj? A yorker. Only it went wrong, and came out as a full toss. And his next delivery to Bumrah is a yorker too. Or it’s supposed to be. But again, the ball slips from his fingers and ends up coming down waist-high. Bumrah slaps it back in the direction it came for four.

Broad drops the next one back of a length, and Bumrah flings his bat at it and it flies off his inside edge past his wicket and away to fine leg for four more. Broad’s grin is different this time, more rueful. Ben Stokes comes over from midwicket for a chat, asks something like: “What are you thinking?”

Broad switches to bowling around the wicket. The ball bounces hip high and Bumrah throws so much into this one that he actually heaves himself off his feet. Thankfully, he doesn’t have to run because this, too, has gone for four through midwicket.

By the time Bumrah has got back on his feet, his partner, Mohammed Siraj, has come down the wicket to hug him. Siraj is laughing. Next Broad tries the same delivery again and this time Bumrah catches all of it, and claps it for six over long leg.

Incredibly, that shot has made this the most expensive over in the history of Test cricket. Brian Lara hit 28 off South Africa spinner Robin Peterson back in 2003, George Bailey did it to Jimmy Anderson in 2013, and Keshav Maharaj to Joe Root to 2020. Imagine if Eric “the Eel” Moussambani had just covered the 100m in 45 seconds dead, or Eddie “the Eagle” Edwards jumped 250m. Only in cricket.

Broad has gone for 34 now, 28 of them off the bat. And there’s still one ball left. This one is a yorker, and lands exactly where he meant it to. Bumrah drops his bat on it and blocks it down the pitch and sets off running for a quick single. Broad realises what’s happening and races up the wicket alongside Siraj, stoops to grab the ball at the same moment Siraj launches himself into a dive and both men end up sliding across the crease together. The replays show Siraj’s bat just beat Broad’s underarm throw.

Broad picks himself up, slaps Siraj on the back, lifts him up off the ground and gives him back his bat. Even he’s laughing now, because what else can you do in this ridiculous game?

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