‘I used to bowl 6 balls and then gasp for breath’: Ashwin shares phase between 2018-20 when he ‘contemplated retirement’

Published on Dec 21, 2021 09:41 AM IST

There was period between 2018-2020, as revealed by Ashwin himself, when he “contemplated retirement”.

R Ashwin bowls in the nets. (Getty)
R Ashwin bowls in the nets. (Getty)

R Ashwin has been a great asset for Team India in both home and away conditions in the longer format of the game. The star spinner has so far scalped 427 Test wickets, making him the third-highest wicket-taker from the country after Anil Kumble and Kapil Dev in the red-ball format. With the bat he has shown great fight helping India save Test in Australia.  

Apart from Test cricket he has made a similar impact in franchise cricket that the 35-year-old regained his spot in the limited-over format. However, there was period between 2018-2020, as revealed by Ashwin himself, when he “contemplated retirement”.  

R Ashwin has been a great asset for Team India in both home and away conditions in the longer format of the game. The star spinner has so far scalped 427 Test wickets, making him the third-highest wicket-taker from the country after Anil Kumble and Kapil Dev in the red-ball format. With the bat he has shown great fight helping India save Test in Australia.  

Apart from Test cricket he has made a similar impact in franchise cricket that the 35-year-old regained his spot in the limited-over format. However, there was period between 2018-2020, as revealed by Ashwin himself, when he “contemplated retirement”.  

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The 35-year-old in an interaction with ESPNCricinfo revealed that it was one of the most difficult time for him as a cricketer, citing prolong injuries and lack of support as the reason. 

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"Between 2018 and 2020, I contemplated giving up the sport at various points. I thought, "I have put in a lot of effort, but it is not coming through." The harder I tried, the farther it felt. Especially with athletic pubalgia and the patellar tendonitis - I used to bowl six balls and then I used to be gasping for breath. And there would be pain all over the place." 

Ashwin further stated he had to make several adjustments to continue with the sport.

"So you needed to make adjustments. When the knee pain got excruciating, the next ball I would probably jump less. When I jumped less, obviously the force needs to be produced through the core and the back and the shoulders, so the pubalgia would act up. So the third ball I would be extra side-on to try to use the hips. By the time I was done with six balls, I would be like, "I need a break here," he further explained.   

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Giving more insights on his thought process then, Ashwin pointed it was lack of support which made him ponder that he should look for something else to excel at.  

“I contemplated retirement for a lot of reasons. I felt like people were not sensitive enough to my injuries. I felt like a lot of people were backed, why not me? I have done no less. I have won a lot of games for the team, and I am not feeling backed. I don't usually look for help, that somebody needs to back me, that somebody needs to cushion me or give me empathy. I felt I was not being able to be excellent and felt I needed a shoulder to lean on. It was not happening. I thought maybe I should try to find something else and be excellent at that,” he added. 

Ashwin in the interview mentioned that the thoughts of quitting the sport came in multiple phases, adding the series against England in 2018 was one of them. 

“Just after the England series in 2018, after Southampton, was one phase. Again in Australia later that year where I tore my abdomen after the Adelaide Test, before and after Sydney. Many stages. The only person I would be talking to was my wife. But my father was hell-bent: you will make a comeback in white-ball cricket, and I will see that before I die. For him it was more personal,” he added.

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