My biggest pain is that I don’t enjoy success as much as I should: R Ashwin

"I have constantly looked for things to improve and I have made sure that I am very uncomfortable with who I am on a particular day," Ashwin said.

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Ravi Ashwin
Ravi Ashwin. (Photo Source: BCCI)

Ravichandran Ashwin is on the verge of playing his 100th Test during the fifth match against England, starting on Thursday, March 7 in Dharamsala. Ahead of this momentous occasion, former India captain and India’s highest wicket-taker Anil Kumble, who is also a JioCinema and Sports18 expert, had an exclusive chat with Ashwin on JioCinema titled Spin Maestros ft. Ashwin.

Excerpts :

Anil Kumble: I absolutely believe your 100th Test match should have come much earlier. That’s how I feel because every time India go out and play in England, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, you have not played enough. The batters are the same, they tend to adapt to any condition but as a leading bowler, they sort of doubt your credentials of adapting to any condition. So how does that feel?

R Ashwin: I don’t want to sound controversial. I can compare this to a lot of other things that are happening in the world right now. But I genuinely do feel that bowlers play second-fiddle to the batters. That’s because probably, batters just get that one chance. I mean you are knocked out; you are out. This used to play on my mind constantly: Why is it that I get one game to fail and why is it that somebody else gets more games to fail? Eventually I have made peace with the fact that the team needs to win. Even when I am not playing and the team wins after five days, I am the most delighted person in the dressing room. When I was young, all I wanted to do was wear the India jersey for one day. Just because of who I am today, I cannot put my selfish interest ahead of the team. Yes, there have been disappointing days, but I have learnt how to deal with it, and I am extremely happy that I played alongside some of the great cricketers that India has ever produced.

Also read: 'It taught me what to correct in my game' - R Ashwin reveals turning point of career

Anil Kumble: Someone you go back to after every tour, if things don’t go right or if they go right, whom do you fall back on? Is there someone you reach out to?

R Ashwin: I go back to one person and it’s very stressful for that person, and that’s me. Because I think cricket is one of the greatest self-thought sports, Anil bhai. And if you’re ruthless and very critical about yourself, I think it will give you the truth staring at your face. There are enough and more critics in India who will tell you, 10 of them will tell you the wrong things, but they’re definitely critical. But 10 of them will also tell you the right things. So, like I always maintain, my biggest pain has been the fact that I don’t enjoy my success as much as I should have. But, that has also helped me become a better cricketer. I have constantly looked for things to improve and I have made sure that I am very uncomfortable with who I am on a particular day. And then I get back to the drawing board and focus on what else can I do to bring more to the table. For example, Steven Smith has got a hundred against me, how do I nab him, or Joe Root has made a hundred, how do I nab him. So constantly that thought initiates a new action and eventually it has worked for me over the years, so I am comfortably seated there.

Also read: R Ashwin opens up on bowling to Smith, Root and Williamson ahead of historic 100th Test

Anil Kumble: Off spin, finger spin. There’s been challenges in terms of white-ball cricket. What’s the future like? How do you see spin bowling going forward and finger spin itself?

R Ashwin: Look, one of the greatest success stories of finger spin has to be how I have made a comeback in the T20 side and the ODI side over the last few years. It’s not something I am saying that it has happened to me, so hence it’s a success story. It’s sort of telling you that these are narratives, that things keep going up and down and at the end of the day these are narratives. There is nothing called finger-spinners being less efficient and wrist-spinners being more efficient or vice versa. The fact remains that the number of repetitions you give as any spinner or any bowler and the amount of awareness you have over your skill, will definitely supersede what part of the skill you possess. Because, I believe, as time passes by people tend to do less work. For example, I want to land the ball at length on a certain line, if I don’t have enough repetitions and don’t have the ability to replicate it among 50,000 people, then it’s worth nothing. In my view, the more you do, the more you conquer pressure. Finger spin, wrist spin, fast bowling, slower balls, bouncer, all these things won’t matter. If you are a good bowler, you are a good bowler, doesn’t matter what you do.

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