- HAS GOT OVER HIS TENDENCY TO BOWL VARIATIONS EVERY NOW AND THEN
It has been 5 years since Ashwin made his international debut and over the years, he has realised the fact that having too many variations in the armoury may prove to be a double edged sword.
He espoused the carom ball from the streets of Chennai, having been inspired by Sri Lanka’s Ajantha Mendis. Even before Mendis had perplexed the Indians with this delivery in 2008, Ashwin as a 21 year old club cricketer saw him in a game in Chennai and was mightily impressed by this skilful variation.
In today’s day and age, when batsmen have developed a wide array of shots to maul the bowlers, variations have become quintessential features of the game; especially for spinners. But, when a certain delivery meant to be used as a variation takes its toll on your stock off-spin, it is bound to invite trouble to your career. An efficient practitioner of the carom ball, Ashwin started using it sparingly in Test matches as well, which in turn started affecting his performance graph big time. He was unable to take wickets in either format during that phase. Fortunately, he has overcome his habit of bowling frequent variations and considers Bharat Arun to be the man behind his resurgence. In a candid interview given to espncricinfo.com, he said, ‘’When I bowled at Alaistar Cook in 2012 (in the home series against England), I kept dropping the ball a little shorter. I tried too many variations at that time, partly because I didn’t have enough knowledge about my bowling at that time’’. He is a quick learner of the game and his subsequent return to bowling classical off-spin has fetched him unparalleled success in the past 6 months or so. His good form in recent times has forced former players to heap praise on him who until a year back wasted no time in criticising him for his frequent use of variations. ‘’When he (Ashwin) started his career, he bowled with an erect action, which hindered his natural rhythm. Off late, he is forcing the batsmen to play at him rather than baiting them with variations’’, commented legendary Indian off-spinner Erapalli Prasanna. Interestingly, Ashwin broke Prasanna’s record of becoming the fastest Indian to reach 100 Test wickets. The former off-spinner now wants Ashwin to get past Muralitharan’s record of scalping 800 Test victims.