India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has admitted that the disappointment of not being included in the playing XI for last month’s ICC World Test Championship (WTC) Final against Australia spurred him on as he roared back form with a record-breaking 33rd five-wicket haul in the first Test against the West Indies.
Ashwin, the No.1 bowler in Test cricket rankings, ripped through the West Indies batting line-up for a 5/60 haul that helped India bundle out the hosts for 150 and take a dominant position in the first Test in Dominica.
Ashwin picked the key wicket of opener Tagenarine Chanderpaul for 12 early in his spell, becoming the first Indian bowler to dismiss both father and son in Test matches used his experience to pry four further scalps in an excellent return to the Test fold in India’s first Test match in the new WTC cycle on Wednesday.
At the end of the day press conference, the ace spinner revealed he was still disappointed to have missed out on playing in the WTC Final but said it was important he moved on quickly and showed he was still a force to be reckoned with at Test level.
“As a cricketer when you have a shot at a WTC Final and to sit out is fine. For me, it was how do I respond and how do I make sure the dressing room is up and about,” Ashwin said on Wednesday.
“Winning the WTC Final is the most important thing and it could have been a very high point in my career and I could have played a good role in it, but it was just unfortunate that it didn’t pan out and the first day left us too far behind in the shed. But what is the difference between me and another person that is going to sulk (about being dropped)? All I would like to give my teammates and India cricket as a whole is some understanding and my best efforts on the field and that is where I would like to leave it,” he added.
Ashwin’s latest performance helped him to 33 five-wicket hauls in Test cricket – the most of any current player – taking his total to 479 wickets in his 93rd Test. He is now sixth on the list of players with the most five-wicket hauls in an innings.
“Rahul bhai (India coach Rahul Dravid) always says it’s not the wickets or the runs that you remember,” Ashwin said.
“The first time I met him as a coach he made a statement and said ‘It’s not about how many runs you make and how many wickets you take, as you will forget about all of them and it is the great memories that you create as a team that will stick with you’. And I am totally behind that. I don’t know if he has brainwashed me to do that, but from my point of view I definitely think I have got a lot of gratitude and am very grateful for the journey and what the game has given me,” added Ashwin.
Ashwin said it is the lows that he has experienced during his long journey in cricket which has helped him on top of his game and perform well.
“There is no cricketer or human being in this world that has gone through the highs without the lows,” Ashwin explained.
“When you have lows it gives you opportunity. You can either sulk, talk about it or complain about it and go along with it and go down, or you learn from it and I am someone who has constantly learned from my lows. The best thing that will happen today after this good day that I have had, is that I will have a good meal and a good talk to my family and go to bed and forget about it. When you have a good day you know you have had a good day, but there are days you can work hard and get better for tomorrow.
“It is not a journey that has been very easy, so for me, the journey has been draining but I am very thankful for all the lows that have come my way also because without the lows there are no highs in your life,” he added.
Ashwin also hoped to replicate the show in the subsequent Tests.