After enduring a frustrating four-year wait to play white ball cricket and spending his time on the sidelines during the Test series against England, spinner Ravichandran Ashwin says ‘life is a circle” and there is nothing better than embracing humility during periods of success. Ashwin made an impressive comeback to limited overs cricket by taking two wickets for just 14 runs against Afghanistan in the ongoing T20 World Cup on Wednesday. Before that match, he played shorter-format for the national team way back in 2017.
Incidentally, it was Ashwin’s first competitive match for India since he competed in the World Test Championship final against New Zealand after which skipper Virat Kohli didn’t show much faith in present Test team’s most decorated match-winner.
“Fortunately, I believe life is a full circle. For some people. it’s a small one and for some people, it’s a large one,” Ashwin said, on eve of the T20 World Cup game against Scotland.
The key to maintaining sanity during the dark phases is staying humble and that’s something that has worked for him.
“Understanding patterns is something I have done very well in my life over last couple of years.
“Whenever I have had very good stretches of form or whenever it has been the other way, I have always had some deep trenches, long periods of lull that one has to go through,” Ashwin said, the obvious reference being benched for Tests in England where he wasn’t even played at the Oval.
“I don’t want to read too much into it as to why those lulls have happened but definitely it’s a pattern, I have embraced in my life.
“So staying humble through periods of success is a statement that a lot of people in my fraternity make, but I have firmly embraced it and lived it.”
Ashwin feels that Shane Warne’s philosophy of having more failures than success in an entire career is an apt observation.
“I believe success is like what Shane Warne had once said. ‘You only get success 33 percent of the times’ and even Sachin (Tendulkar) had also echoed at some stage of his career. If they are saying, who am I? I am no different.” The 35-year-old, who is only the fourth Indian bowler to take 400 Test wickets said that he is not the sort, who will grumble about things that aren’t in his control.
“It’s easy to lose motivation and lose hope and close those doors, hide behind it and keep complaining, something that I will definitely not do,” the articulate Chennai man said.
So what’s the solution when someone is out with no fault of his?
“Easiest way is to go through a professional circle and keep preparing, keep working hard and expecting that an opportunity will turn up at your door step one day.
“And when it happens, you have all the options to break open doors and break open latches, locks and that’s what life is all about. So look for those days and keep preparing like that day would come.”
As a servant of the game, he feels that what he has done for the sport is more important than what are his returns from it.
“For me, it’s not what the game has given me but what I have given to the game and how much I have enjoyed playing the game. If I am asked to put three stumps anywhere and play a game , I will do it with utmost enjoyment. I have evolved as T20 bowler since I was dropped in 2017.”
“Circles are never completed. They keep going in loops, I can’t say if it’s come around or not,” Ashwin replied when asked if he and Ravindra Jadeja playing together for the first time in four years in white ball cricket means that finger spinners are back in demand.
At one time, wrist spinners like Kuldeep yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal were preferred options. But he did elaborate what he meant about “perception” about finger spinners.
“The perception of finger spin needs to change,” he said.
“Ever since 2017, I was going through a great phase in my Test career and I felt like I was bowling amazing stock balls (primary ball, off-break for Ashwin) at that point in time. Like I said, circle stops and it has stations at every single place and that Champions Trophy final in 2017 was one such station where I had to halt and think about my cricket.”
In fact, a lot of experts still can’t figure out subtle changes in angles and refer to his famous carrom ball.
“Ever since that I have evolved as a T20 bowler, bowled a lot more deliveries that are so subtle that people are still terming them as carrom balls, arm balls but those are very subtle. I am trying to create different angles and seam positions.
“The delivery that got Gulbdin Naib was anything but a carrom ball. I worked on it. I have got so many more options than what I particularly had at that point.”
Ashwin has a simple formula while bowling.
“When I bowl to a right hander, I think like a left-arm spinner and when I bowl to left handers, I think like an off spinner. So thinking creates intent and intent is eventually translated into practice. There is a lot of work that has gone there and it’s only the consumption of what I do has changed.”
Lot of people’s understanding of game is backward
Ashwin couldn’t hide his sarcasm while speaking about some of the expert opinion that one bumps into on various platforms.
“For a lot of people who are consuming this game and giving expert opinions on the game, I sometimes feel sorry for them,” the inimitable Ashwin said.
“I have been playing this format since 2007-08, every two years the game leaves our realms and teaches us something. Because the game is so fast-paced that people are trying to get that one percent advantage through various technologies.” Picking wickets is also a process and not a one-off thing, he explained.
“I feel the understanding of the game is backward in so many ways. More often than not wicket-taking is seen as something that just happens, but it is not.
“For every wicket that a bowler is picking, there is an over bowled before or after that’s created it. It’s a result of dot balls bowled by another bowler. I think I expect too much from people watching the game but that’s how I play the game.”
For Ashwin, 24 deliveries in T20 game is equivalent to ’24 events’
“There are 24 events in a game, cliched terms used by people inside and outside the team, but I take it very seriously. I have 24 events and I have to win every event. What is victory? That victory is direct related to what my team needs not what I need.”
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