The Ashwin conundrum: Why the spinner deserved a spot in the Indian side for the 4th Test against England

The Ashwin conundrum: Why the spinner deserved a spot in the Indian side for the 4th Test against England

From fans to armchair experts to former cricketers, several people have batted for the inclusion of Ravichandran Ashwin into the Indian playing XI.

Ravichandran Ashwin
Ravichandran Ashwin. (Photo Source: Twitter)

RAVICHANDRAN ASHWIN. It has been more than two months since he last wore the whites for India. But then, if there is one name from the Indian side that has been trending currently, it is that of the legendary Tamil Nadu spinner.

For the 4th time in a row, Ashwin was left out of the Indian playing XI. And, from fans to armchair experts to former cricketers, several people have batted for the inclusion of Ashwin into the Indian playing XI. Former Aussie spin wizard Shane Warne even stated that it is a ‘stubborn’ move by the Indian side to exclude Ashwin from the playing XI, and slammed the Indian team management for their refusal to give Ashwin a chance in the side.

“Stubborn it is a terrific word Nasser used. I think it is exactly that. If you look at those two sides and England has got such a more well-balanced team than India do with that tail. I would have played Ashwin. It is going to turn here, you don’t pick a side just for the first innings, it will turn. Plus, he’s got five Test hundreds, you’re playing a batsman as well as someone who can bowl,” said Warne.

So, does Ashwin deserve a spot in the Indian playing XI? In this article, let us dive deep and answer this pertinent question.

Why Ravichandran Ashwin should get the nod as the first-choice spinner?

Ravichandran Ashwin
Ravichandran Ashwin. (Photo Source: BCCI)

In all 4 Test matches of the series, Virat Kohli has played just one spin bowling all-rounder, and that has been Ravindra Jadeja. So, what has made Kohli go for Jadeja repeatedly, match after match instead of Ashwin? In this section, let us take a look at the numbers generated by both Ashwin and Jadeja in Tests played in England with the red cherry in hand.

Player Name Matches Wickets Average Strike Rate
Ravichandran Ashwin 7 18 28.11 66.70
Ravindra Jadeja 10 19 47.84 102.40

The above table shows that Ashwin is way ahead of Jadeja with the red ball in hand in England. In spite of playing 3 matches less than the left-arm spinner, Ashwin has taken just 1 wicket less than Jadeja. Also, while Ashwin averages a good 28.11 with the ball in England, Jadeja averages a high 47.84, which is close to 20 points higher.

Also, while Ashwin’s strike rate is 66.70 in Test matches played in England, Jadeja’s strike rate is an unimpressive 102.40. It is clear beyond doubt that Ashwin has a far better record than Jadeja in Test matches played in England.

Ravichandran Ashwin vs Ravindra Jadeja: Performances in a Win or a Draw

Ravichandran Ashwin
Ravichandran Ashwin. (Photo Source: Getty Images)

Now, let us come to the macro picture. Any spinner wears the whites for his country to help his side to a win. And, if that is not possible, then the next task would be to ensure that his side does not end up on the losing side. In the table below, let us take a look at the numbers generated by both Ashwin and Jadeja in a win or a draw in Test cricket.

Player Name Innings in a Win/Draw Wickets in a Win/Draw Average in a Win/Draw S/R in a Win/Draw 5W in a Win/Draw Innings/5W Haul in Win/Draw
Ravichandran Ashwin 116 337 22.78 50.2 28 4.14
Ravindra Jadeja 88 192 23.33 59.9 8 11

Again, the table proves that Ashwin has been more valuable with the ball than Jadeja in a win or a draw in Test cricket for India. Ashwin has taken a whopping 145 wickets more than Jadeja and has taken them at a better average and a better strike rate as compared to the left-arm spinner.

Also, Ashwin has taken 28 five-wicket hauls in 116 innings in a win or a draw, which translates to a five-wicket haul once every 4.14 innings. On the other hand, Jadeja has taken only 8 five-wicket hauls in 88 innings, which means that he has taken a five-wicket haul once every 11 innings in a win or a draw. Clearly, Ashwin has been more valuable for India in a win or a draw with the ball as compared to Jadeja in Tests.

Ravichandran Ashwin vs Ravindra Jadeja: Performances in a Win or a Draw Away from Home

Ravichandran Ashwin of India celebrates the wicket
Ravichandran Ashwin of India celebrates the wicket. (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)

Now, let us proceed further, and analyze the numbers generated by both Ashwin and Jadeja in a win or a draw away from home in Test match cricket. The table below will reflect the same.

Player Name Innings Wickets Average Strike Rate 5W Innings/5W Haul
Ravichandran Ashwin 33 74 29.51 63.3 5 6.60
Ravindra Jadeja 25 40 32.82 75.5 1 25.0

When we analyze the records of these two men in a win or a draw away from home too, it is Ashwin who trumps Jadeja. Ashwin averages 3.31 points better than Jadeja, and his strike rate too is 12.2 points better than the left-arm spinner. Also, Ashwin has taken 5 five-wicket hauls in 33 innings, which translates to a five-wicket haul taken once every 6.60 innings. In comparison, Jadeja has taken just a solitary five-wicket haul in 25 innings.

Ravichandran Ashwin vs Ravindra Jadeja with the bat in 2021

Ravichandran Ashwin
Ravichandran Ashwin of India celebrates his century. (Photo by RANDY BROOKS/AFP/Getty Images)

Now, let us come to the willow-wielding aspect. In this section, let us compare the numbers generated by both Jadeja and Ashwin with the bat in 2021 in Test match cricket. The table below will reflect the same.

Player Name Innings Runs Average 100s 50s
Ravichandran Ashwin 10 267 29.67 1 0
Ravindra Jadeja 9 202 25.25 0 1

At first glance, it is proven that Ashwin has performed better than Jadeja with the bat this year. Ashwin averages 4.42 points better than Jadeja and has also scored a century this year. But then, only when we delve a little deep do we realize that Ashwin’s contributions with the bat have been way more valuable than the numbers actually suggest.

His stubborn 39* off 128 deliveries against Australia at the beginning of this year helped India salvage a draw from the jaws of defeat, and his sensational 106 against England at Chennai in February helped the Virat Kohli-led side thrash their opponents by 317 runs.

On the other hand, Jadeja has not had a telling contribution with the bat this year for India. While his 40 at Lord’s in the first innings was a good knock, the chief architects of the win with the willow were KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma, and Ajinkya Rahane.

In The End

Ravichandran Ashwin
Ravichandran Ashwin. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Surely, Ravichandran Ashwin will not be a happy man warming the benches in England. He is a bowler who offers a lot for his side and can contribute useful runs with the bat. And, in the course of the above analysis, it has been proven that Ashwin is indeed India’s No.1 spin bowling option in Test match cricket.

Will the Tamil Nadu bowling legend take the field at least for the 5th Test match? Well, 10th September 2021 will give the answer to this question.

Note: All the stats have been taken from Cricinfo and Howstat Cricket and have been updated as on 2nd September 2021