As skipper Virat Kohli won the Polly Umrigar award for best international player, teammate R Ashwin was deservedly conferred with the Dilip Sardesai award for his performance in the West Indies in 2016. He picked up 17 wickets in four Tests, including a haul of 7/83 and secured India a 2-0 series win.
On being conferred with the award, Ashwin spoke about what his skipper had told him once. “Virat said one thing before ‘if this team can achieve something special, we can create great memories’. We prepared a charter here. When we embarked on our journey, everyone was happy, we created more memories than playing great cricket there. My love affair with West Indies, I just think, sometimes when you know you have done well against a team, the edges also don’t carry to the fielder.”
As he spoke, Ashwin and also paid tributes to the likes of Bishan Singh Bedi and Erapalli Prasanna.
“I just heard numbers (wickets) of Mr Bedi and Mr Prasanna and I will have to add my gully cricket wickets, if I have to get near them! They are insane numbers. I don’t think I will ever be able to get near them. Stories of Mr Prasanna, getting a rope to dip the ball to batsman are part of Indian cricket’s folklore and I am happy to carry forward the tradition.”
However, there was a light-hearted moment during the final moments of his speech which sent everyone into peals of laughter. Just when Ashwin had finished his acceptance speech at the BCCI Awards 2017, Farokh Engineer asked him, “What’s there in Karnataka water that produces great spinners like Chandra (BS Chadrasekhar), Prasanna and you?” To this Ashwin, who comes from Tamil Nadu, replied,“Not to bring politics in it but we had some Cauvery water recently in Tamil Nadu! I think it should be that.”