One of the first things Steve Smith did after Pat Cummins was named Australia’s Test captain ahead of the Men’s Ashes was address him by his full name “Patrick”. Cummins had been one of the two deputies to Tim Paine for the last three years and was appointed the skipper once Paine stepped aside before the Men’s Ashes.
The cricketing world rejoiced at the sight of a bowler being the captain and Cummins proved a good account of himself, leading Australia to a 4-0 win over England to keep the urn.
Closer home, India moved towards having a bowler lead the side by first naming Bhuvneshwar Kumar as the vice-captain for the tour of Sri Lanka in July last year, after the Test team with the main players was in England.
While Kumar could be categorised as a bowler who can bat, Jasprit Bumrah, who is the vice-captain for the ODIs against South Africa, is more a pure bowler and naturally, one of the first questions to him was about his captaincy aspirations.
“If given an opportunity, it will be an honour and I don't see any player (who) would say no and I am no different,” Bumrah said during a virtual press conference on Monday.
“Be it any leadership group, I always look to contribute however I can, to the best of my abilities. Having a post or not, it doesn't really matter.”
Bumrah would be the deputy to KL Rahul, who was named captain for the three-ODI series after white-ball skipper Rohit Sharma was ruled out of the South Africa tour due to a hamstring injury. Moreover, with Virat Kohli stepping down as the Test captain, Bumrah could be a candidate for the role, if India wish to take that route.
On his part, Bumrah didn’t seemed too fussed about the additional responsibility and said that he has always been talking to the other players in the team, giving advice or exchanging notes.
“Even when I am not vice-captain, I try to talk to some of the younger guys, have a lot of discussions on what kind of fields that need to be set and the same role I will try to do that again as well,” he said.
“No specific role or added pressure I am going to take. Yes, (I will be) helping KL in any way possible and trying to keep a calm head.”
The series will also see Kohli play without the tag of being the captain, for the first time since 2016. The first ODI will be played on Wednesday (Jan 19) in Paarl.
“I can't speak for everyone but I can say that for me, it doesn't really make much of a difference. Change is the only constant and we are happy everybody is contributing and we are getting a lot of knowledge and trying to contribute to that. I don't think anybody is facing a problem or is in a weird space with the change that is happening,” said Bumrah.
The 28-year-old loves challenges and thrives on them. That Bumrah is all decked up for this new challenge – that of officially being in the ‘leadership group’ – can be summed up from this line of his: “If there is no responsibility or pressure, where is the fun? I look forward to fulfilling my responsibilities.”