Former India coach Ravi Shastri has made some striking comments regarding premier off-spinner R Ashwin.
Ashwin, who is now considered in the same breath as the legendary Kapil Dev, was at a low following India’s triumphant 2018-19 tour of Australia. He picked 6 wickets in the first Test in Adelaide, but missed the next three Tests due to injury.
Kuldeep Yadav, the chinaman, bagged a five-wicket haul in the fourth Test in Sydney. After which, Ravi Shastri hailed the leg-spinner as India’s No. 1 overseas spinner. In a recent interview with ESPNcricinfo, Ashwin stated that he’d felt “crushed” after Shastri’s comments.
During an interview with the Indian Express, Ravi Shastri opened up about the chats he’d had with Ashwin regarding his fitness. The former coach revealed that he wanted Ashwin to work harder on his fitness as he has more potential to be tapped out and can become a force even in overseas conditions.
“There were talks with him to get fitter. I had a chat with him even after 2019, that he is bowling only 60-70 % of his capacity and still taken 375-400 wickets. If he gets that fitness right, that strike-rate will go through the roof, not just in India but even overseas,” Shastri said.
Shastri didn’t like Ashwin being a “cry-baby” about this and instead wanted him to step up. He added, “The last thing a coach wants is you say something and then the player goes and sulks like a cry-baby. I’d rather have a guy tell you on your face, “I’ll show you.”
On the topic of Ashwin being dejected after Shastri’s comments about Kuldeep, the 59-year-old pointed out that those remarks worked as a motivation for the champion off-spinner who worked hard, improved his fitness, and also played a major role in India winning the series in Australia last year.
“My job is not to butter everyone’s toast. My job is to state facts without agenda. Ashwin did not play the Test in Sydney and Kuldeep played, bowled brilliantly and took five. So it’s only fair I give that young kid, who was probably playing his second Test overseas and he bowled magnificently, he bowled as well as any spinner has overseas. So I said the way he has bowled here, there is every chance he could be India’s No. 1 overseas. If that hurt some other player, then good.
“In hindsight, I am glad I made that statement. Because if it hurt Ashwin and he was upset, I am glad the way he went about his job,” Shastri explained.