Former Pakistan express pacer Shoaib Akhtar has opined that Jasprit Bumrah's back may not be able to withstand the load that is put on it. He added that the Indian pacer has to be extremely careful considering the number of matches he plays.
Shoaib Akhtar voiced his opinion regarding the current fast bowling scenario around the world during a freewheeling chat with Aakash Chopra on the latter's YouTube channel.
Aakash Chopra asked Shoaib Akhtar if the likes of Jofra Archer, Pat Cummins and Jasprit Bumrah would last for a long time, considering that they play in all three formats of the game apart from the T20 leagues.
The speedster responded that Pat Cummins had done exceedingly well in the last couple of years after recovering from injury, while adding that every pacer has a period in their career when they are at their best.
"I think Cummins has come back after injuries. He has come back strongly in the last couple of years. You have a peak in your fast bowling where you have a margin of 2-3 years in which you take 100-150 wickets."
Shoaib Akhtar opined that injuries are part and parcel of a fast bowler's career because of the stress that is put on the joints, and emphasised the importance of rest and training to prolong one's career.
"And then you break down again. Break down has to happen. A joint is working abnormally, how long will it work? After some time it has to give way. To survive that, you need to rest and recuperate and train."
Shoaib Akhtar observed that Jofra Archer's pace has already dropped considerably while debunking Michael Vaughan's opinion that he himself was not consistently fast.
"If you see Jofra Archer, he is not going over 140 kph. I heard Michael Vaughan say that even Shoaib didn't use to bowl consistently that fast. That's wrong. My average speed even after lunch was 150 plus. So, I used to finish around that speed only."
The Rawalpindi Express labelled Pat Cummins as an asset while questioning the potential longevity of Jofra Archer.
"I feel Cummins is an asset but I don't think Jofra Archer will last for a long time. Already his pace is coming down after 5 Test matches."
Shoaib Akhtar's views on Jasprit Bumrah
Shoaib Akhtar lauded Jasprit Bumrah for the hard yards he puts in and his willingness to play gruelling Test matches despite having a difficult action.
"Bumrah has a difficult action. He cannot play in all formats. It is his braveness that he showed his skills in Test matches. He is a very hard working guy and is very focused. He knows where he wants to go."
Shoaib Akhtar raised question marks on the Indian bowler's back being able to sustain the load over a long period.
"But will his back support him. Till when will his back withstand that much load. It had to break down. I was watching his matches before he broke down. I was telling my friends that he will break down."
The 44-year-old pointed out that it is the load that a bowler puts on his back during his delivery stride, rather than the length of his run-up, that dictates how long he can go without injury.
"They told me that it was just 4-5 steps run-up. I told them it is not a question of steps but about loading during the delivery stride, his back will not be able to sustain that much. A niggle will happen and that's what happened. I think he broke down after a couple of Test matches."
Shoaib Akhtar warned Jasprit Bumrah to be extremely careful as he was a precocious talent.
"He has to be very careful and his captain. Because you get very few such talents."
Shoaib Akhtar was further asked if the action played a big role in injuries or if the body gets used to it after having bowled for so many years. He responded that the action definitely has a huge impact on a bowler's longevity on the cricket field while pointing to the stressful actions of Jofra Archer and Jasprit Bumrah.
"Jofra Archer has a front-on action. He bowls with a whip of his wrists. His loading is all on his back. He is a shoulder and back bowler and you have seen he has broken down. Bumrah also has a front-on action, his loading is also on his back."
Shoaib Akhtar pointed out that Mohammed Shami, on the contrary, has a very smooth action with very little load on his upper body.
"Shami's lower part does the labour. Till the time he keeps training and keeps his lower part strong, he needs to keep it stable, his upper body has no issues. But if his fitness is not fine, he starts labouring during his run-up."
Shoaib Akhtar called Shami a very smart bowler who can deliver great results for the Indian team as long as he keeps working on his fitness.
"If he keeps his foundation good, keeps himself slim and muscles strong, he will continue playing. He is a very smart fast bowler. You don't give him enough credit, but he has bowled crucial spells in crucial matches."
Jasprit Bumrah was laid low by a back injury before the 2019 South African tour to India. Although he did make a comeback early this year, he was not at his menacing best in India's last away series against New Zealand.