India head coach Rahul Dravid heaped rich praise on stand-in captain Jasprit Bumrah, saying the fast bowler commands the respect of his teammates and that’s a good quality to have as a leader. Bumrah became only the 2nd Indian fast bowler after the legendary Kapil Dev to lead India in Tests when he walked out for the toss on Day 1 of the rescheduled 5th Test against England in Birmingham on Friday, July 1.
Rahul Dravid, speaking to the broadcasters ahead of the toss at Edgbaston, said Bumrah is a very good thinker of the game and understands the game situations well.
Dravid had kept tight-lipped when he addressed the press on Wednesday as doubts remained over regular captain Rohit Sharma’s participation. However, the BCCI, on the eve of the Edgbaston Test, confirmed that Rohit was not able to recover in time from Covid-19 and would not take part in the much-anticipated series finale.
Bumrah was handed over the captain’s armband as he led a team for the first time in representative cricket.
“I think he is a very thoughtful individual, understands the game very well. Also he commands the respect of the team, which is very important as a leader. Bowling changes, field changes obviously will only get better with time. It’s a new challenge,” Dravid told Sony Sports.
Meanwhile, the head coach also suggested that it’s not going to be easy for a bowler to lead the side, considering the workload and the effort needed to get through long spells in the longest format of the game.
It’s not surprising that there are only a few bowling captains going around in Test cricket. Bumrah joined Pat Cummins of Australia as the only specialist bowler to lead a Test side and the first Indian pacer since Kapil Dev.
Bumrah looked calm and composed as he came out for the toss on Friday as he told the broadcaster that he was happy with the result at the toss even as Stokes opted to bowl with clouds hanging over Edgbaston.
“It’s not easy for a fast bowler to captain, he’s got to think about his own bowling too. Have had a few conversations with him, and told him that we need him more as a bowler. Captaincy is something that you’ll get better at as you do it more,” he added.
India lead the 5-match series 2-1 from last year. The Asian giants were having the momentum leading into the 5th Test, which was scheduled in Manchester in September but a Covid-19 scare in the Indian camp led to the postponement of the match.