If I don’t get wickets, have something to work on: Ashwin

Posted on August 18, 2013

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Off-spinner R Ashwin is gearing up for fresh battles after a well-deserved break from India duties. The 26-year-old spoke on the sidelines of the all-India Buchi Babu tournament where he is leading the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association XI.

You were rested for the tour to Zimbabwe, after the Champions Trophy and West Indies tri-series triumphs. How has the break been till now?

The break has been splendid in the sense I have had time to actually analyse what my shortcomings are, what things I need to be improving on. A break is the most important thing to self-analyse, interrogate and improve. It has done that for me and has been rejuvenating mentally.

Any changes in your game…

I have been working hard on my training aspect. I have had a good trainer and support staff always. Only a break will actually make you stronger, during the season it is very hard, your fitness levels keep dropping. In order to bank the energy for the rest of the season I have worked really hard. I have also been working on a few glitches in my batting as well with some technical assistance.

You have become the spin spearhead, playing across all the formats….

For me any aspect of the game doesn’t make a difference. Any format I play, wherever I play, even if it is a tennis ball match I have to perform, I have to excel. If I don’t excel I don’t find a point going to the ground. If you don’t excel, according to me, you have to find another job. This is my job and I want to excel in all the formats.

How do you adapt to the different formats. Any particular approach?

Most of the times, the approach is very mental. You have to make sure the shutdown balls in a T20 game become more evident and in a one-day game you have more time to attack. It is in the Test matches where you control a batsman. And in the longest-format you have to switch off (everything else) and only look for wickets. For me wickets are everything and I don’t bother about runs that much. But in the shorter formats, I try to be as mean as possible.

R Ashwin.

R Ashwin.

So you try to attack always?

I look for wickets as much as a batsman goes out to pick runs. A 100 is a big number compared to ten wickets one can get in an innings. Personally, nothing less than five wickets (in an innings) is a settling factor. If don’t get that many wickets I have something to work on and look to improve in the next innings.

Your role now can be seen as a senior one in the team and it has come in quick strides after you made your debut…

I believe in leading without a title and contributing to the team in any fashion possible. Any way I can pitch in on the field and off it, I keep doing it. But for that I need to do well. Unless I perform, I have no role in telling in anyone what they have to do.

As much as physical fitness, mental toughness is also key for a sportsman. How do you prepare yourself for that?

It all boils to one point looking to excel. On the job, if I get to do that, I gain more. I started playing (competitive) cricket at the age of seven and spent around 15 years before I made anything out of it. For an engineer he studies for four years and gets a job. It is not the same for me. I have done years of good work. I have to keep on improving and growing and that’s where mental toughness sets in.

The recent success of the Indian team, puts the side in a very positive frame of mind…

The team has gone through a transition phase. Strangely we have had a good four years if we take the larger picture and we have also had our down moments. We are a young unit, these performances actually give you the buffer to improve and make the team take losses in their stride.

On the mix of captain MS Dhoni and coach Duncan Fletcher…

Dhoni’s leadership is evident to everybody. He has a lot of common sense and trust in other players apart from being one of the best finishers in the game. Duncan has had a very calming effect on the side. His experiences have come handy and both of them working very differently augur well for the team. Duncan has helped me with various technical aspects of batting and is a very good tactician. Also, the way he actually pushed me into the slip cordon and said I have pair of safe hands.

Any plans in store for the upcoming Australia series and the trip to South Africa?

Not yet! I have worked on my batting and I would like to make a powerful impact with that. I want to be a more potent force as an all-rounder and add more value to the team.

As an off-spinner how important is it to keep reinventing your bowling?

I try to add some teeth to my bowling. As and when things go really well and I am confident of doing something in the middle I will release it, just to ensure I perform better.

This interview was done for Hindustan Times. An edited version has appeared on the print edition dated August 28.
(http://www.hindustantimes.com/Cricket/CricketNews/If-I-don-t-get-many-wickets-I-have-something-to-work-on-/Article1-1109290.aspx)

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