India’s Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja are gearing up for another rich haul in the Test series against England starting November 9, but Rajinder Goel, the country’s former bowling stalwart, has slammed India’s success on what he believes are underprepared pitches.
“I don’t think we have quality spinners who are capable of spinning the ball on any kind of surface. They need tooti-footi (broken) pitches to get wickets, which is robbing (fans of) the fun of spin bowling,” former left-arm spinner Goel told HT.
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Haryana’s Goel took a staggering 750 first-class wickets, a record 640 of them in Ranji Trophy at a sensational average of 17.14. His wickets included that of Sunil Gavaskar, who said Goel’s flat trajectory and sharp turn was what made him difficult to handle.
The career of Goel, 74, stretched for 27 years, from 1958 to 1985, but he never realised his dream of playing for India as his career ran parallel to Bishan Singh Bedi.
His current pain, however, is over the kind of tracks being laid out by India in the name of home advantage.
There is talk of turning tracks before every home series and visiting teams have meekly surrendered to India’s spin attack. Many matches have been wrapped up on the third or fourth day.
“A good spinner should be capable of turning the ball with his wrist or fingers. (But) We are not talking about that, we have been continuously debating about turning pitches.
“Do you think is it fair? We are depending on so called good turning pitches to win matches in India,” the highest wicket-taker in Ranji Trophy said in an interview in his home town of Rohtak.
Ashwin has been India’s prime weapon. He captured 31 wickets at a measly average of 11.13 in last year’s 3-0 rout of South Africa, although that success was tempered by heavy criticism of the rank turners laid out.
After claiming 17 wickets in the series victory in West Indies, Ashwin snapped up another 27 to seal the 3-0 sweep over New Zealand last month. Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja took 23 wickets in the win over the Proteas and another 14 against the Kiwis.
India falling back on turning tracks to win at home is nothing new, with the pitches often naturally playing slow as well, but the inability of Ashwin to make an impact against major teams abroad has provided a huge contrast.
While the tall offspinner has taken 153 wickets in 43 home Tests, he has only managed 67 in 17 matches on away tours. That includes 17 in the Caribbean this season.
Goel, who captured five-wicket innings hauls 53 times and 10-wicket match hauls on 17 occasions, feels the all-out spin ploy is shortchanging cricket lovers as they are not aware of what is happening.
“People are happy the Indian team is winning. But they are not aware how. I think this is not fair to cricket.”