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2012 series against England was turning point for me: Ashwin

Source: PTI
Last updated on: March 05, 2024 16:21 IST
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IMAGE: R Ashwin will be playing his 100th Test in Dharamsala. Photograph: BCCI

On the cusp of completing 100 Tests, India's premier off-spinner R Ashwin on Tuesday said he would not have become the bowler that he is now without the learnings from an underwhelming home series against England in 2012, at the end of which he was a "bit nervy".

That series loss remains India's last defeat at home and Ashwin's performance in the four-match rubber left a lot to be desired as the likes of Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen played him with ease.


Twelve years later, Ashwin looked back at the turning point of his remarkable career, which now features 507 Test wickets.

"It is a pretty big occasion. More than the destination, the journey has been very special. It is a journey of ups and downs and a lot of learnings," said Ashwin, who will become only the 14th Indian to reach the 100-Test milestone when the final Test begins in Dharamsala on Thursday.

"One of the turning points of my life was the England series when Cook came here and made all those runs. It has been talked about a lot but to me that and what led to the next home series against Australia (changed a lot for me).

"There was lot of noise about me being left out of the team, one of the selectors had a chat with me. At that time I was a bit nervy though I don't know where it came from as I had done well previously," he recalled.

‘Taught me what I had to correct’

The criticism of his performance -- 14 wickets at an average of 52.64 in four Tests -- is still fresh in his mind but more importantly, he hasn't forgotten the lessons.

"When I went back and reflected on it after all those articles written about me, it dawned upon me that what was wrong with me. That is a wonderful lesson that has been kept with me all these years down the line.

"When I look back at it, it taught me what I had to correct. Some of those questions were raised by me largely," said the 37-year-old.    

One of his finest spells came in Birmingham in 2018

A majority of Ashwin's 507 wickets (354 to be precise) have come in favourable conditions and perhaps that is why he cherishes his effort in Birmingham on the 2018 tour of England.

Ashwin picked up seven wickets in that Test, including the important ones of England run-machine Alastair Cook and Joe Root.

"It is Test wins that always stand tall. After having given it a thought, one of the finest spells that I have bowled has to be Birmingham, 2018. I bowled in both the innings, I bowled on the morning of day three and got three wickets.

"I got seven in the game and thought I had almost bowled India bowled to victory but didn't happen," he said referring to the game India lost by 31 runs.

"Then it was a Test match in Bangalore, where I bowled a spell on day two morning not for many rewards. Day one, Centurion in 2018-19 again, got a four for and could have been six for. These are the spells that stand out."

Due to his superior batting skills, Ravindra Jadeja has been preferred over him at times in overseas conditions but the champion spinner has now made peace with the past.

"It's always disappointing to not play a particular game for your country, especially when you were doing well. But you got to make peace with it because it was in the best interest of the team. I don't think any captain or player wants to leave out a player that they feel can be of use in that particular game.

"Not many teams in the world has what India has got. Ravindra Jadeja has been batting pretty well and if you see his averages, you can see that's where he has outscored me. Bowling might not be a big factor given the pitches that we play on in England and South Africa," he reasoned.

‘100 Tests mean a lot more to my family than to me’

Ashwin got emotional while talking about the sacrifices his family has made for him over the years and stressed that numbers don't mean a lot to him.

"Just because I have great memory, people actually think that I value numbers, but I actually don't.

“It does not mean anything to me. The 100th Test match probably means 10 x 100 to my dad, it means a lot to my wife and my mom. My daughters are more excited than I am.

"It's just a number. Zaheer Khan could not play 100 Test, MS Dhoni could have rode on his (success) and played 100 Tests, but he did not," Ashwin added.

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