New Delhi: Jasprit Bumrah's emergence as 'Test match bowler' was India's biggest gain during the recently concluded tour of South Africa and national selection committee chairman MSK Prasad made it clear that the Gujarat speedster's "workload management'' is paramount for him.
Bumrah bowled a whopping 162.1 overs across three formats, including 112.1 overs during the three-Test series in South Africa.
"I am delighted with Jasprit's performance. We always had confidence in his abilities as he had done well for Gujarat in Ranji Trophy. But now our primary goal is to monitor his workload very carefully with so much international cricket ahead. We need to be careful that he is not over-used," Prasad told PTI during an exclusive interview.
The chairman also indicated that Bumrah will be used only for the "important Test series" as his slinging action is one of the rarest of rare.
"If you look at his action, it is a rare one and he can be prone to injuries. We need to use him for the important Test series coming ahead. For each and every fast bowler, the balance of workload is very important and the high-performance team will be monitoring it closely," the former India wicketkeeper explained.
The other big gain has been the performance of the two young wrist spinners in Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, who shared 33 wickets between them in India's emphatic 5-1 win in the ODI series.
"We always believed that wrist spinners are wicket-taking investments that we had to make. Both Chahal and Kuldeep have really lived up to our expectations. The most heartening aspect has been the pool that we have managed to create. We now have five quality spinners for three formats — Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah and Axar Patel," Prasad said.
He also said that the endeavour of the current selection committee was to create a proper bench-strength and they are slowly but surely inching towards that goal.
"I attribute our team's success to the nice bench strength that we have. We have multiple players for each spot. Like we have rested Hardik Pandya for the Sri Lanka series and we want to create a backup all-rounder in Vijay Shankar."
For someone, who has been stressing on the aspect of communication, Prasad believes that each and every player has the right to know where they stand in terms of national selection.
Talking to this season's highest run-getter Mayank Agarwal (2141 runs across formats) and explaining to him the rationale behind his non-selection in the Indian team is one of them.
"No player should be confused about where he stands. Our committee speaks to every player — even those who are to be selected and try to give them a fair picture. Accordingly, I spoke to Mayank and told him that with his brilliant performances in domestic cricket, he has now definitely got himself in the mix (national team reckoning). I told him that he is now in the queue," Prasad informed.
"We have followed a pattern in our selection process. Each and every national contender is in the queue and we don't believe that anyone can jump the queue. Mayank is a wonderful kid and he completely understood what I explained to him. He told me 'Sir, you are spot on and 'I am not in a hurry at all'."
He had said just after Test squad selection that current team was the "best" that have hit South African shores and now feels satisfied that he has been vindicated.
"I had said before the start of the South African tour that this is our best team and I stand by it completely. The Test series was a case of so-near-yet-so-far. But full marks to Virat and the team management for keeping up the energy. It was not easy but Virat led from the front as he has always done," Prasad said.