R. Ashwin: Tamil Nadu suffering from inexperience

Tamil Nadu is in a rebuilding phase and the situation cannot change overnight, says the off-spinner after his team’s 71-run loss to Himachal Pradesh.

R. Ashwin took nine wickets but ended up on the losing side in Dindigul.   -  G. Karthikeyan

 

After Tamil Nadu’s second straight defeat on Thursday in Ranji Trophy, R. Ashwin had some candid observations on what ails Tamil Nadu cricket and what needs to be done to get things back on track.

Excerpts...

How disappointing was it to lose again?

I don’t know where to start and where to end to be honest because I don’t think there is any lack of effort. I feel there is probably too much inexperience. Losing three players, who were batsmen with experience, from the last game didn’t help. We were outplayed in both the games, especially on the batting front.

Could the batsmen have done something different to take the bowlers on?

Exerting pressure on the bowler is very important. You need to be able to push the field and change things around. But first comes defence. If you can dominate a bowler over the defence, then you can move on. That understanding of the game only comes with experience. Even if you take them aside and say ‘as a team we will plan and play this way’, they have not done it. So it’s not going to happen. I have spoken to the selectors also and in the next couple of years, we need to pick 15-20 people and play them come what may and that’s the only way forward.

Are our batsmen not ready for first-class cricket?

It’s a rebuilding phase. I don’t think we are ready. It cannot start and stop with individual names. It runs deeper. The exposure to play swing bowling is lacking. We need to go outside and play which begins with going to KSCA or Moin-ud-Dowlah. It’s not like tomorrow you send back two players and get somebody else, it’s going to change things. It won’t change overnight.

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What about the feeder system?

For starters, the place of first division cricket is appalling if I have to be polite. The pace is so slow that shot-making is almost impossible. It starts with what kind of wickets we produce. For starters, we play in summer and Ranji Trophy is a winter sport in India. Our fast bowlers need some fillip to play cricket. You can’t play in slow wickets and ask them to bend their backs day in and day out. We need a cultural shift in terms of honesty. This ‘we’, I am talking about is administration, team management and senior players. We can’t allow the senior players to be the way they want at the same time we need to make them inclusive to get the maximum out of them. The last time when somebody like Badri (S. Badrinath) left, it was not the right time for him to leave. He went to Vidarbha and capitalised on two good seasons. The team grew. Somebody with such a wealth of experience should be here, guiding our youngsters.

But how long will we depend on seniors?

That’s the only learning school. Everybody learns from seniors. Look at a team like HP. They have all the bases covered. We are succumbing to the basics of cricket. That tells us that we need to go and strengthen our basics. Senior players need to take the load and they are the best finishing school for any cricketer.

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