In recent times, India’s star bowler Ravichandran Ashwin has not been the team’s first-choice Test spinner in foreign tours. The off-spinner was dropped from the team and left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja was chosen ahead of him a number of times in the away series. Since 2018, India toured England and Australia twice and South Africa and New Zealand once. Ashwin was never the team’s first-choice spinner in all these tours but the off-spinner has had brilliant numbers in the past few years. Speaking on his non-selection even after performing well, the 35-year-old revealed an episode of “mental trauma”.
“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,'” Ashwin told ESPNcricinfo in an interview.
“The one thing I needed to figure out was: Why was my mind wanting to give up? Why did I want to quit? I was not enjoying the game. Why? Because the factors were all external. If I turned my attention inwards, I could enjoy the game. All I needed to accept was, whatever happens, if I am in the team, if I am not in the team, if I perform, if I don’t perform, it will be on my terms,” Ashwin said.
Ashwin also said that he considered the 2020-21 tour to Australia as his “last”.
“When I boarded that flight to Australia, I genuinely told myself: This is your last tour. This is your last f***ing tour. Do not leave any stone unturned. Be extremely prepared when you get your first opportunity. It might not be the first game. It might be the second, it might be the third, it might be the fourth. Or you might sit out the entire series. I expected to sit out the entire series. I took my family along because I needed their support if I was not playing,” said the off-spinner.
Ashwin, who is India’s third-highest wicket-taker in Test cricket, further revealed that he “didn’t watch a single game India played in white-ball formats” for about eight months.
“For me, cricket is beyond me just playing. For about eight months I didn’t watch a single game India played in white-ball formats. That is when it hit me: I am going through mental trauma. So I called my mental-conditioning coach and said, ‘Boss, for me to not watch cricket is unreal.’ Tomorrow if I am not playing or if I quit or someone kicks me out, I will still watch the game. Because I love it,” he stated.
Since making his Test debut in 2011, Ashwin has played 81 Tests for India and picked 427 wickets in the format, including 30 five-wicket hauls. He also impressed with his batting skills a number of times as the all-rounder has 2,755 Test runs to his name with five centuries and 11 fifties.
Ashwin will next feature in India’s upcoming series against South Africa and in the absence of the injured Ravindra Jadeja, he is likely to be considered as the team’s first-choice spinner.
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