India vs Australia: ‘Nobody asks batsmen to go and watch how Smith bats and replicate it,’ R Ashwin on whether he considers bowling like Nathan Lyon
Throughout his career, R Ashwin has had to deal with comparisons of his bowling figures in India and overseas. A quick judgment would state that Ashwin is a far better bowler on Indian pitches that he is on overseas soils – especially in SENA nations (South Africa, England, New Zealand and Australia) – but Ashwin, who claimed 4/55 against Australia on Day 2 of the Adelaide Test on Friday, claims otherwise.
“Look in the last two years if people might not reflect upon a couple of not-so-great situations or matches if you may call so, I have pretty much had decent outings every time I have gone out to play abroad over the last 18 months or so,” Ashwin, India’s star with the ball, said at the end of the day’s play via a virtual press conference.
“And things can get blown out of context. I have put those things behind me, and I only want to enjoy my trade and have all the fun I possibly can. I don’t want to sit back and think whether it is the best or not. For me there is an innings to go and I am looking forward to the entire series. It is a great opportunity for me to play the game I love.”
Ashwin’s 4/55 are his best bowling figures in Australia in Tests. As far as the last 18 months are concerned, Ashwin has played only two Tests abroad, against New Zealand and the one he is currently involved in, picking up seven wickets, but has looked a lot more assured in his bowling than he has in the past.
Ashwin weighed in on his comparisons with Australia off-spinner Nathan Lyon, saying drawing parallels between two players with similar traits can at times get exaggerated. With 369 wickets and counting, Ashwin is India’s fourth-highest wicket-taker in Tests, behind Anil Kumble, Kapil Dev and Harbhajan Singh. Lyon, on the other hand, has 390 wickets and is Australia’s third highest wicket-taker behind Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath, but has played 25 Tests more than Ashwin.
“I think every spinner is different,” Ashwin said. “I think sometimes things can get blown out of context when comparisons are made with how one approaches his trade in comparison with the other. Even in this Test, Nathan and I bowl very differently. We are both very different bowlers. Successful in our own way.
“For me it is about trying to change it up and make it difficult for the batsman to be able to defend and also score at the same time. Sometimes when you are playing just four bowlers, especially away, my trade is just to hold one end up and rotate the fast bowlers at the other end and also go for wickets if I do get enough assistance or early wickets. For me it is extremely important to make it as difficult as possible for the batsman to defend.”
Ashwin responded the possibility of him trying to bowl like Lyon on a Moeen Ali in order to get the best results, saying although there is a huge score to learn from his peers, everyone is different in their own ways and the off-spinner is comfortable sticking to his bag of tricks.
“Sometimes I feel these comparisons and the way we look at things is skewed,” Ashwin said. “Nobody asks batsmen to go and watch how Smith bats and replicate it all the time when we tour Australia. Nobody asks them to bat like Alastair Cook or Joe Root when they play. I think we are all aware that everybody skins a cat differently.
“There is no end to what you can learn, you can always learn all the finer things, how they go about their business, what fields they set, the passage of play. I have always maintained this, especially when you play away from India, the passages of play need to go your way as a spinner because you are doing a twin job and against the conditions. As far as I am concerned, I watch carefully to see if I can learn and also prepare thoroughly for the batsmen and put in an earnest effort. How people perceive it and how they compare it is for them to do.”