What does Mukesh Kumar tell us about time travel team selection?

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If you were to fire up your flux capacitor and hop into your DeLorean, would you go back and pick a different England or India team for the recently-completed second Test? More quick bowlers perhaps? Yes? No? Maybe?

We’re assuming that given access to time travel, the first thing you’d do is embark on a long and complex quest to install yourself in a position of selectorial influence for the 2024 Visakhapatnam Test. We feel this is a fair assumption.

We’re also assuming you’d want to influence the outcome of the match by picking a better version of the team you support, rather than through sabotage – say, by becoming an India selector and bringing back Ajit Agarkar.

So after tracking down a clear enough section of smooth road and accelerating to 88mph and getting yourself the chief selector job, who are you picking and why?

More seamers!

This website’s preview of the Vizag pitch suggested that for all the emphasis on spin, seamers often prove influential. And so it proved.

England’s sole seamer, James Anderson, was their most effective bowler with 3-47 in the first innings and 2-29 in the second. These aren’t spectacular figures, but throw in a couple more bowlers delivering a similar return and you’re winning most matches.

Or at least you are if the opposition doesn’t have a couple of Jasprit Bumrahs at its disposal, yorking your form batters and just generally smearing every inch of the place with excellence every time they take the ball.

One Jasprit Bumrah was enough for India on this occasion. If his 3-46 in the second innings helped secure the victory, his first innings 6-45 was where the game was won.

Mukesh Kumar

India did have another seamer though: Mukesh Kumar.

How did he fare?

Mukesh Kumar fared very badly. He took 0-44 off seven overs in the first innings and 1-26 off five overs in the second innings. The wicket he took was Shoaib Bashir. The last ball he bowled was walloped for four by Anderson.

What are we saying here?

Quick bowlers were more influential in this Test than most people expected. It seems odd, with hindsight, that only three were selected.

At the same time, the two quick bowlers who did well were James Anderson and Jasprit Bumrah. The other one on display, Mukesh Kumar, very much did not do well.

It could be that precisely because they are such exceptional practitioners of their art, James Anderson and Jasprit Bumrah are not exactly representative of the broader category of cricketers we tend to lump together as “quick bowlers”.

Maybe picking more quick bowlers would have been a good idea. Maybe it wouldn’t.


If we could time travel, this is what we’d do:

  1. Go into the future and gather scientific knowledge about physical durability and sporting longevity
  2. Go back and feed that information to young Jimmy and young Jasprit in the hope they’d act on that wisdom and that we’d consequently have them around for longer


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  1. If I could go back in time, I’ll clone some amalgam of the two. This is the easy part. The hard part is naming this bowling colossus.

    James Bumrah
    Jasprit Anderson
    Jasjam Bumderson
    Jamprit Bumson

    I can’t man, I can’t.

      1. I have a feeling that Jimsprit Bumderson would have the very worst physical characteristics of Jimmy and Jasprit, such that he would end up with results more akin to Anwar Hossain Monir than either of his near-namesakes.


        If I could do time travel, I think I’d go back to around 1985 and shake the England cricket establishment up so hard for a few years, that the 1990s would have gone better.

      2. What, and break the magic of 2005? We suffered for that moment. We had to suffer. Years and years of pain. Wouldn’t have been the same otherwise.

        One thing I would do with a cricketing time machine is tell Eoin Morgan that, genuinely, despite years of talk with nothing happening, this time Ireland really are on the brink of becoming ICC full members. And also tell the ICC that yes, really, Ireland will be decently competitive so the process should be sped up somewhat. This may not have been great from an English POV but it would right a bit of a cosmic injustice, and letting Ireland keep a world-class performer at a critical time for the sport there might have helped cultivate the proper cricketing rivalry the match-up deserves. It really ought to have been at least as good as the Trans-Tasman rivalry, but seems to have got stuck as a bit of an afterthought sadly. (Largely the ECB’s fault, and not very forward-looking of them, but if the fixture had looked more competitive and Ireland’s roster more star-studded then the commercial case would have been more compelling to them.)

    1. If you don’t get your cloning right you might end up with a Bumjam (which is also, worryingly, the character of a children’s book).

  2. Australia beating Windies in an ODI with 1.08 T20 internationals to spare is the only cricketing stat you’ll need today.

    1. …sadly making their recent test win look like a complete and utter fluke.

      All 86 knocked off with 43.1 overs to spare. Erf!

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