Often criticised for not delivering overseas, Indian off-spinner R Ashwin says he came of age during the most recent tour of Australia and it won’t be long before his wicket-count goes up abroad.
Ashwin picked up 12 wickets at an average of 48.66 in the four-match series but insisted that it was a decent effort as the wickets Down Under are not particularly conducive for spinners.
“To say it (performance overseas) will get better by the time I’m done, is not how I look at this game. I think I came of age when I played in Australia this time. More than anything else, I think I created a lot of wicket-taking opportunities and put a lot of pressure on the batsman,” Ashwin told ‘ESPNCricinfo’.
“To bowl 30 overs in a day in Australia is a really commendable effort for a spinner in my knowledge. Over the last year, my bowling has come a long way. If you asked me, would you take 25 wickets more or how you are bowling right now, I would say I will take how I am bowling right now because I know the wickets are round the corner,” he said.
Ashwin has been fairly consistent on sub-continental assignments, grabbing 100 wickets from 16 Tests at an average of 23.87. However, he has 24 wickets in 9 Tests abroad at an average of 56.58.
“I might end up getting six wickets in Australia one day and I might say that is where I wanted to be. I played a Test match in South Africa and played a couple in England.
“If I play a Test in India, I might end up picking five wickets immediately but it might happen in the third or fourth Test in England or South Africa. It hasn’t happened but might happen soon,” he asserted.
Ashwin said he wants to be an important factor in the team’s performances outside the sub-continent.
“Maybe that is what was needed for me to become a better bowler. I firmly believe that was fate because until then I had played 18 Test matches without a lot of bad games.
“When you go abroad, if everybody plays (their) role to perfection, the role of a spinner is much easier. Having said that, I should take greater responsibility on myself. I want to emulate a lot of things that the past greats have done. I’d be happier if I had won more games for India,” he said.
Talking about the team’s new Test captain Virat Kohli, Ashwin said they are starkly different personalities but get along just fine.
“Whichever team I’ve turned up for, I’ve always wanted to contribute and be the prime performer. To a degree, Virat is very similar and I love that character of his because we both go about our business in a very different manner,” he said.
“He is very aggressive, upfront and on the face. I don’t quite do that but I still want to take the centrestage. If he is the batsman doing it for India, I want to be the bowler that does it for India.
“The one driving factor that is common to us is that we want to keep improving and we don’t want to sit on laurels. I really admire that aspect of his which I don’t think is very common,” he added.
Asked he harbours ambitions of being India’s captain, Ashwin said, “If you would have asked me two or three years ago, I would have said yes like any vibrant youngster. There are a lot of occupational hazards. I wouldn’t say that’s a priority because it is not in my hands.
“I was really confident of myself as a leader but I think that leadership is something that needs to be identified and I need to be entrusted with it. As of now, I’m only getting better as a player and a person every day. If it has to happen, it will happen. I think it is a matter of fate.”