Just wanted to play, was hard to sit out: Ashwin
- R Ashwin claimed his 27th five-for in Test cricket
- Ahead of the first Test, captain Virat Kohli had said that given his batting credentials, Ashwin starting the match at home was a no-brainer
- My life has been all about cricket for the last 25 years: Ashwin
VISAKHAPATNAM: There’s been a lot of debate over R Ashwin in recent times, ever since fitness issues laid him low following the Adelaide Test against Australia in 2018. The chatter increased during India’s tour of the West Indies, when the team management preferred Ravindra Jadeja to the offie. Ashwin, meanwhile, used the last nine months to rejuvenate himself. A stint in county cricket with Nottinghamshire kept him in good stead, as did league cricket back home and the Tamil Nadu Premier League.
There was some concern ahead of the Test series whether Ashwin would be made to sit out again but skipper Virat Kohli cleared the air ahead of this Test, clarifying Ashwin would start. So, the first Test of the year was rewarding in more ways than one for Ashwin.
After reducing South Africa to 39/3 on the second day, Ashwin and Jadeja toiled on the third day but the former had reason to be happy with his 27th five-for in Test cricket. “I stopped watching cricket. To stay away from cricket is very tough for me. To substitute that, I played whatever games I got. I made an opportunity for myself to play county cricket. I played the TNPL as much as I could, played league cricket in Chennai.
Ahead of this Test, skipper Kohli had said that given his batting credentials, Ashwin starting the match at home was a no-brainer. “It is very important to do what I do,” Ashwin said. “I’ve literally stopped reading about the game like I used to do in the past. In as much as you want to know stuff, you want to watch the game, there was a phase where I actually stopped watching cricket for a brief period. I just wanted to play. In terms of addressing injuries and why it happened, it is better left to the medical staff. I was playing 12 months a year and a spike in workload probably would have caused it. With all due respect to everyone, I enjoyed whatever cricket I played over the past six months.”
So why did he stop watching the game? “Every time I watched the game on TV, I felt like I wanted to play the game and that I was missing out. It’s very natural, everybody goes through it. But that’s not the be all and end all. I tried to do a few other things in my life as well.
“My life has been all about cricket for the last 25 years. I thought my life, my family, my friends, everybody deserved a little bit more of my time. So I tried to spend a lot more time away from the game,” he said.