We’re not saying that the delivery with which Jasprit Bumrah bowled Ollie Pope was the best post-Waqar yorker. All we’re saying is that a decent case can be made and that’ll do for today.
First things first, the greatest yorker of all time was bowled by Waqar Younis at some point in the 1990s. We don’t know which one it was. No one does. All we know is there were quite a lot that were basically perfect and it’s pointless to try and distinguish between them.
If a man says, “Next ball, I am going to bowl you with an in-swinging yorker,” and then bowls you next ball with an in-swinging yorker – well, you can’t really improve on that. Unavoidably dismissed even when you knew exactly what was coming is the benchmark.
That’s okay. Benchmarks are useful. Benchmarks give you a frame of reference. Benchmarks give you something to measure against.
Waqar Younis’s yorker was so good, we wrote an entire article about it for The Wisden Cricketer, which you can now find on Cricinfo.
But that was then and this is now. Today let’s measure Jasprit Bumrah’s lovely, lovely yorker to Ollie Pope.
The Case Against, Part 1
One disadvantage Jasprit Bumrah has is that he is not a fast bowler. Not a proper one. Jasprit Bumrah is a tremendously skilful fast-medium bowler who can occasionally tip over into the fast category for a ball or two. That is enough for him to be pretty much the best seamer in the world right now, but when you’re talking about knocking someone’s stumps out with a yorker, it is, unfortunately, a weakness – even when he achieves his primary goal.
Sorry, but that’s just the way it is. Yorking someone with an even faster ball is just better. The ball that did for Ollie Pope was clocked at 141.7km/h, which is excellent but we’ve all seen faster.
Form of batter
Who you get out matters a lot and the form they’re in matters too. Ollie Pope was on 23, straight off the back of one of the finest innings an England batter has ever played in India. Full marks here really.
Did the batter fall over?
Batters are bowled all the time. What elevates bowling someone with an in-swinging yorker is that you are getting them out and also making them look like a complete tit for good measure. This is a very, very important detail.
The gold standard is to combine avoiding the bat with threatening the feet such that the batter ends up on their face. Ideally, it will appear as if their inner ear has exploded, taking their sense of balance with it.
Pope, alas, did not fall, but he was close and the moment was definitely something of a dignity-stripper. Bumrah still deserves high marks in this category in our opinion.
This is not just bowled.
This is really, really, very, very, extremely bowled.
Simple one, this. The stumps should end up all over the place.
Did the stumps end up all over the place?
You bet your boots they did.
The Case Against, Part 2
A matter of taste, this one, but an alternative category to stump-splatteriness is stump-cartwheeliness. Where the former is about making as big a mess as possible, the latter is about hitting one stump hard and true, sending it as far from its earthy slot as possible.
While a rapidly travelling stump is probably the greatest sight in all of sport, we would actually argue in favour of stump-splatteriness here. The length of a yorker makes a spiralling end-over-end journey towards the boundary so much less likely, so we don’t actually feel it is a hallmark of the oeuvre.
Was Jasprit Bumrah’s yorker to Ollie Pope the best since Waqar Younis? Probably not.
Was it good enough to write a whole article about? Oh yes.