‘Why did you ask me to stop bowling leg-spin?’ – Ravichandran Ashwin asks Muttiah Muralitharan, gets an epic reply
Muralitharan, the only international bowler to scalp over 1300 wickets, was under scrutiny for his bowling action many times during his career.
Updated - Aug 13, 2020 2:59 pm
Ravichandran Ashwin has been a pillar of India’s Test bowling attack from a long time now. The spinner has always been on top of his game especially in India and his phenomenal performances have made India a destructive force at home.
When he burst into the scene during the start of the last decade, he was known to play for Dhoni’s CSK and the captain’s support was always there to be seen. The off-spinner had the art of bowling different styles, with leg-spin, doosra and carrom ball being a part of his ammunition.
As the lockdown started a lot of cricketers were found on social media, entertaining their fans by interacting with other fellow cricketers. Ashwin started his own show on Instagram in which he invited Indian cricketers as well as overseas players. The popular faces to feature on the show called ‘DRS with Ash’ included Indian captain Virat Kohli.
Recently, former Srilankan off-spinner and the highest wicket-taker of all time, Muttiah Muralitharan also featured on the same show. It was a delight to watch two of the greatest off-spinners of all time together on a show. Muttiah was also a part of CSK when Ashwin started playing for the Chennai franchise.
In the chat, the Indian spinner revealed how the great Murali stopped him bowling leg-spin when the duo used to play together almost a decade ago.
Here’s the conversation:
Murali: I bowled leg-spin for a few years in my school days, the reason was Ruwan Kalpage, also a Sri Lanka cricketer, who was also an off-spinner. There was another Test spinner in our age-group, a left-arm spinner. With two spinners playing in our team, I didn’t get a place. So for variation, I bowled leg-spin for a few days and they selected me for a season.
I have confidence in bowling leg-spin but not sure it would have come out well in Test cricket. Bowling leg-spin and spinning the ball, bowling googlies is easy but landing the ball correctly is difficult.
Ashwin: You said this made me remember, to play U19 cricket, you’ll bowl leg-spin to get into the team but when I wanted to bowl leg-spin, remember what you told me? ‘Why are you bowling leg-spin? Bowl off-spin, you do that very well.’ Why did you say that to me?
Murali: I bowling leg-spin was to get into the U19 side. Now you are going to try and play for India and the selectors say then only want leg spinners, the onus is on experience. Only when you take wickets, you will get confidence. It’s about proving yourself. Not just proving yourself by bowling leg-spin. Instead, take more wickets by bowling off-spin that’s a challenge. Even I got dropped in my career.
They’ve dropped me from one-dayers but I didn’t bowl leg-spin. I challenged them with my off-spin and took wickets. So I thought you forgot that challenge, that’s why I said it.
Ashwin: Now you’re saying this but after you told me that I only bowled carrom balls and off-spin. I didn’t bowl leg-spin even next year.
Murali: That’s why you are here now.
I started playing when I was 8 but as a fast bowler: Muralitharan
Muralitharan, the only international bowler to pick over 1300 wickets, was under scrutiny for his bowling action many times during his career. The bowler who is known as the epitome of spin bowling also narrated how he wanted to be a fast bowler when he was in school.
“I was interested in the game when I was very young. I started playing I was 8 but as a fast bowler, the spin didn’t come naturally to me.
“When I came to U13 levels my coach told me so you’re not going to get any taller, so fast bowling won’t be your thing. Bowl off-spin instead, he said, and taught me. The first ball I bowled spun because I automatically put my wrist into it,” he added.