Back from the South Africa series, R. Ashwin wasted no time in getting onto the field again — for Tamil Nadu in the Vijay Hazare trophy.
With wrist spinners the in thing in cricket, Ashwin, known to add new tricks to his sleeve has been trying to perfect his leg-spin for sometime now and once again tried it against Gujarat on Monday. He spoke to the media after the match. Excerpts:
Is it a conscious effort to start bowling leg spin and part of your evolution for the limited overs format?
I am not looking at it as an evolution. I have been practising it for sometime. I am getting good game time before I get into a major tournament. This is part of my plan going into the IPL. I am just trying to build my armoury. I used to bowl good leg-breaks with my off-spin action when I was playing league cricket in Chennai. Over a period of time, in a search to get my stock ball right, I obviously had to cut out a lot of those things. I had possessed a lot more variations. Having bowled off-break as the stock ball for almost 10 years, trying to change things around is challenging. But I don’t really settle for anything. At no point in my career, I thought ‘this is it’ and decided to settle for the rest of my career. I always look for new stuff to do.
Do you fear that it will affect your off-spin?
I never had the fear. My career has been such that people have always told I tried a lot. And when I didn't try a lot is when I have lost my place in the side. The game’s demand is such. I don’t have any qualms about people’s opinions. But I should not feel that I didn't try. It is a massive thing I am trying. I know it. I am giving it everything.
Are you working with anyone on this?
As of now everything is cooked by me. I try to take feedback from our coaches in my academy. L. Balaji has been of great help. First time I was bowling leg spin, we were working on some actions on how to gain momentum. How I can make a repeatable action work for me. For example my arm doesn't go 45 degrees which is perfect for a leg spinner. I am more upright. I have to adjust my action. It has been a painful ride. One day it will come out well in the nets, and the next day it won't come out all right. It will be frustrating. I have gone through the entire journey and have reached a place where I can land the ball where I want to.
The reason behind the obsession with wrist spinners?
I think there is a bit of novelty factor. People do feel wrist spinners have the extra bit due to their googlies and leg spin. This game is about adaptability. When T20 came, people thought there was no space for spinners. Then finger spinners dominated for 10 years. Now the time has come that wrist spinners are doing well..But it is good for everybody. It is not about finger spinners or wrist spinners. It is about how well one can adapt and how well one can keep moving on with the game.
How much you have evolved as a Test bowler in overseas conditions?
Most of those talks (about overseas performances) have been overrated. I haven't had a massive sample size to be talking about it. I have failed in a game here and there. I am sure people do fail. But it is being talked because of the benchmark I set for myself rather than anything else but that has been my problem. Having people have more expectations of me and when those expectations go flat, I expect them to react in a certain way and they did. As of today, since 2015 when I bowled in Australia, I have been a different bowler. I have learnt a lot. I had many opportunities to have big hauls but it has not turned around but I am sure it will come soon.
Are there any talks of you being asked to lead Punjab?
As of now, nothing has been spoken about regarding captaincy. I have done well for TN in the past (as skipper). I haven’t led TN in the T20 format. But I'm sure I will give my best. I'm someone who will not let things run away. If at all given an opportunity, I will try to give my best.
“He is someone who goes for a win, come what may. He doesn’t have a negative bone in his body. He is always talking about a win and never thinks about situations to save the match. That gives a lot of clarity to most of the people in the team. You know what you need to do and that’s what you are hunting for.”
Not being part of CSK, what does that mean to you?
I was a tad disappointed because I have been here for the last ten years (sic) (Eight years). Literally, I have owned that space around Chepauk. Every time I came on to bowl, the kind of roaring and cheering I got will always stick on to my head. A bit disappointed that I will not be turning for CSK.
It's a ground where I have had great memories and it has been a part of my meteoric rise so to say. It gave me momentum going into my international career as well. It will always stay firmly etched in mind. Coming back there, to play against CSK, will probably motivate me more. Let's see how it goes.
How do you see Kohli as a skipper in overseas conditions?
He is someone who goes for a win, come what may. He doesn’t have a negative bone in his body. He is always talking about a win and never thinks about situations to save the match. That gives a lot of clarity to most of the people in the team. You know what you need to do and that’s what you are hunting for. The body language of him is driven by his psyche. It gives an amazing amount of intensity to the team. This is the first big overseas series for Kohli as captain. He is still young as a skipper. I am sure all the best captains in the world would have had a set of home games. It’s unfair to try and split the stats (based on region). It looks like some people are always searching for negativity. He is already on par with some of the greatest captains. It’s best that we give credit to him when it’s due.
Do you think India could have won the SA series?
On a personal account, I would say, I batted beautifully through the first two Tests. If I had just got kicking on and held myself on when the second new ball was taken in that Test, I could have made a massive difference. I felt a little disappointed for that. In general, that was my role in that game and I had to counter attack. As an individual, whatever I wanted to achieve I did achieve, probably a few wickets lesser than what I would have really liked.
I personally feel the series was very close. It was on the line. In fact, even at Cape Town and Centurion, we were in the game till the last ball was bowled. I thought we played really good cricket and on both occasions if we had won the toss maybe it could have made a massive difference. It gives us a lot of impetus going into England.
How do you see your chances for a comeback in the limited-overs format?
I can only do my part. And I am focusing only on that. I don’t think I am in a phase of my career where I am going to really fret much and look forward to something. Genuinely speaking, if I am good enough, I will play. But I always believed that I am good enough to play as a bowler in any team. That’s my self-confidence, but I will try and strengthen ammunition for people to see that. If it happens, well and good!
You seem to have modelled your leg-spin action on Anil Kumble...
That’s how I bowled. That’s what I have tried and sharpened out. I have taken actions of various people. I have tried Paul Strang’s. I just try to incorporate what I can add to my bowling. It’s been a journey and more game time in the middle would give a lot of confidence.
- Mohammed Siraj back at No.1 in ICC Men’s ODI bowling rankings
- Asian Games 2023 Live Score and Updates, September 20: Indians in action in rowing, pentathlon; Volleyball men’s team faces South Korea
- Manchester United vs Bayern Munich - a trip down memory lane of the historic 1999 Champions League final
- India kits at Asian Games 2023: What do the patterns on the Indian jerseys signify?
- Manchester United goalkeeper Earps wins England Women’s Player of the Year