Ashwin: ‘Maybe Clarrie Grimmet was nicer than me’

Ravichandran Ashwin, before his tour to West Indies, had 176 wickets in 32 Test matches. If it didn’t rain in two of the Tests there, he probably would’ve broken the Clarrie Grimmet's record of reaching 200 wickets in 36 Tests.

Ravichandran Ashwin fields on the fourth day of the first Test match against New Zealand at Green Park Stadium in Kanpur.   -  AP

Nobody could reach 200 Test wickets faster than Australian leg-spinner Clarrie Grimmet. Not even some of the most ferocious quicks of cricket. Dennis Lillee and Waqar Younis took 38 Tests, and Dale Steyn 39, but Grimmet got there in 36.

Ravichandran Ashwin, before his tour to West Indies, had 176 in 32. If it didn’t rain in two of the Tests there, he probably would’ve broken the record. Ashwin, albeit the delay, reached the landmark here when he snared Kane Williamson lbw, hurting New Zealand’s hopes of surviving the Test.

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Asked if he regrets not being the fastest to reach 200 Test wickets, Ashwin quipped: “Maybe Clarrie Grimmet [the fastest to 200 Test wickets] was a nicer man than I am.”


On bowling over the wicket to the left-handers

We need to make our plans, try and shift to technical difficulties the batsmen face. The way New Zealand’s left-handers play is different to the other left-handers; they don’t plonk their foot across. They drive down the wicket; try and play inside out a lot. It will work on this wicket because it doesn’t have enough bounce and turn. It doesn’t have carry. So, trying to change a bit of angles.

On Test match crowds

There are select venues in the country where we don’t get crowds but predominantly you get good crowds. For example, Chennai and Bangalore fill up every time we play a Test. Today, Kanpur was full. And, it’s also the brand of cricket that we play that will bring the people to watch the game.

On Harbhajan Singh’s plea to Anil Kumble and Virat Kohli to not make rank-turners

The kind of wickets we play in are not something Kumble or Kohli can go and roll or water. What we get is what we play on. It’s unfortunate that people don’t realise it. A win is a win: savour it. If a Test match gets over in two days in England, nobody talks about it. Why only in India?

On his unsuccessful phase in Tests

I’ve always spoken about that phase. It taught me a lot. My skill has been at the top level ever since. With this game, I‘ve got a corn in my finger and I haven’t bowled a lot 25 days prior to the game. I am not happy with the way it’s come out. I hope I get better for the rest of the series.

On his favourite Test scalps

Kane Williamson is not a bad 200th scalp. I had a few good wickets in my career. AB de Villiers in Nagpur was very well set up. Kane Williamson’s wicket in the first innings in this match was a very good ball. (Kumar) Sangakkara in Sri Lanka… these are some of the wickets I cherish in my career and I hope I can create more in the future.

On how New Zealand can succeed on Indian wickets

They have tested us a bit. To be honest, this is one of the better wickets that New Zealand will get. Because it’s slow and they had enough time to go on the backfoot and adjust to the shot. It’s a traditional, attritional Indian wicket. Probably, Kolkata will be a better batting wicket. When it comes to spin, this is one of the wickets where you can negotiate it better.

On beating the records

It might sound cliched to you but I’ve always maintained that I compete with myself. If you go out to beat records or catch up with it, it will teach you a lesson. That’s something Test cricket taught me early in my career. I lost a good 12-18 months because of that. And, it’s important to compete with myself.

On regrets of not being the fastest to 200 wickets (two matches in the West Indies was curtailed by rains)

Maybe Clarrie Grimmet [the fastest to 200 Test wickets] was a nicer man than I am. It’s fine. There are a lot of good things to look at. Lot of good memories in my 5-6 years of international cricket. Looking back and feeling sour is not the right way to go about it.

On the next target

To win this Test. Everybody keeps talking about the 13 Tests this season. But for me, it’s one day at a time. Try to win the Test tomorrow, take a 1-0 lead and take it from there.

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