I lead without a title, says Ashwin

Over the past two years, R. Ashwin has spoken about wanting to be the best in the business and his drive for excellence culminated in records and honours. We caught up with the world’s leading allrounder in Chennai on Thursday.

Ravichandran Ashwin

Ravichandran Ashwin says he constantly tries new things to have an edge over the opponents.   -  V. Ganesan

Over the past two years, R. Ashwin has spoken about wanting to be the best in the business and his drive for excellence culminated in records (fastest to 250 wickets, record number of seven Man-of-the-Series awards) and honours (ICC Cricketer of the Year). We caught up with the world’s leading allrounder in Chennai on Thursday.

Excerpts...

You have been able to constantly get better in terms of skill sets. How have you managed that?

It comes down to the fact that I want to be unplayable and don’t want to dish out the same thing every day. The fear factor does not come in unless you are one up on the opponent. If you don’t do that, you will always come second and that becomes second nature.

Can you talk us through about your preparation in the days leading to a Test match?

I have had to address a couple of niggles, so my preparation time has come down because I have had to manage my workload. I have exhausted myself in practice in the past and I have realised I need to practise more judiciously.

But it is trying to be as fresh as possible for the game and stay as little in the sun on the day before the match. As always I have tried to add method to madness be it using tickboxes or use notepad to try and see how much time and energy I have exhausted.

The last time you had 29 wickets against Australia here. What does it mean to play against Australia, despite the team not being what it was a decade ago?

I have always done well against them even during the last time we played there. I kind of understand the brand of cricket they play. I probably know the ebbs and flows of the game when they are playing against us and having good numbers is an added advantage.

You are an intense person by your own admission. How do you not let that intensity overpower you?

Sometimes I miss my family and friends. I get into a bit of loner zone when travelling and it gets stressful. My thinking head is always on and at times I have not been able sleep. But it is that sort of intensity that has made me who I am. I have a lighter side to me which I have been able to discover and that has helped.

When you are here, we often see you posting videos of your training. What is the longest time you have stayed away from the game?

It is very difficult to stay away from the game. I love the game. Ninety per cent of the players play because of what they love about the game. I play the game because I love the game. There is a massive difference between the two.

You are probably one of the few players who is a direct selection across all formats. Are you surprised you are not the vice-captain?

I have really crossed that stage, where I think I deserved this or being faced with decisions that is not in my hands.

I lead without a title. I end up playing a crucial part in most matches which India wins. If there are some parameters cricket adapts, a lot of things will be different around cricket. But unfortunately cricket is not as professional as it should be. I have got to the stage where I have realised, I am not here to change the whole thing, but if it is possible for me to change things, I will. As of now, I am at peace with myself.

To be honest, I am not even sure if I want to be a vice-captain. I do a lot of hard work.

So to try and think at what is not coming my way is way too demanding on my mind.