Bhuvneshwar Kumar: World Cricket's Bowler of the Month, July 2014

Alex TelferFeatured ColumnistJuly 31, 2014

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 30:  India bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar in action during day four of the 3rd Investec Test  match between England and India at Ageas Bowl on July 30, 2014 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Stu Forster/Getty Images

When India's squad for the current tour of England was named, the absence of Zaheer Khan (who turned out be injured) raised a few eyebrows...but not Bhuvneshwar Kumar's.

The 24-year-old has grabbed the opportunity of leading India's attack on a tough overseas tour with both hands, picking up 15 wickets in the three Tests so far. 

And even more important than that, despite Dale Steyn's impressive showing in Sri Lanka and late rallies from Jimmy Anderson and Moeen Ali, Kumar has won the coveted Bleacher Report World Cricket Bowler of the Month Award!

Ross Setford/Associated Press

Prior to this series, Kumar was one of a pack of jostling, almost interchangeable, Indian seamers and had taken just nine wickets in six Test matches.

But the English conditions, despite delivering some benign wickets, have seen the swing-bowler extraordinaire claim two five-wicket hauls to firmly establish his name on the international scene.

The first "five-for" came at Trent Bridge test where, on an Indian-style pitch, Kumar almost single-handedly plunged England into big trouble until a freak last wicket partnership between Joe Root and Anderson sent the game into drawsville.

At Lord's, the paceman earned himself a place on the honour's board by using the ground's famous slope to take six for 82 in the first innings, a haul which included England's top-four batsmen. While a miserly, albeit wicketless return, in the second innings, piled the pressure on the homeside's doomed run chase.

OK, so things didn't quite go to plan at the Rose Bowl for Kumar or India, where, despite struggling with his length, he still collected four more scalps to add to his tally.

So where did this red-hot form come from? Kumar had bowled innocuously in two lethargic and wicketless warm-up games and, in fact, hadn't even played a red-ball game since a Test match against the West Indies in November 2013.

However, his 20 wickets in the 2014 IPL and an economy rate of 6.65 presumably did wonders for his confidence. And the early innings movement of the Duke ball in English also can invigorate bowlers.

Although, given that Kumar has removed 11 different England players among his 15 victims so far, his skills at finding reverse swing make him a major threat when the cherry loses its shine.

Finally, throw in his batting—Kumar has chalked up 228 runs in this series and averages over 28 in Test cricket—and, if he can sustain these levels, India may have a new Kapil Dev on their hands.