Tamil Nadu cricket Association felicitate Cricketer Ravichandran Ashwin (fourth from left) for taking 500 test wicket  in 100 matches during the event held at MA Chidambaram Cricket Stadium in Chennai on Saturday.

Tamil Nadu cricket Association felicitate Cricketer Ravichandran Ashwin (fourth from left) for taking 500 test wicket in 100 matches during the event held at MA Chidambaram Cricket Stadium in Chennai on Saturday.
| Photo Credit: VEDHAN M

Ravichandran Ashwin’s entry into the 500-wicket club has delighted the legendary Anil Kumble who said the off-spinner’s immense success over the last decade stems from his desire to learn and ability to rise above constant challenges.

At 516 wickets currently, Ashwin is the second highest wicket-taker in Tests for India behind Kumble (619), and the former India leg-spinner wasn’t one bit surprised.

“Ashwin has had as many challenges thrown at him. He hasn’t allowed a single one of them to check his progress. He’s been an exceptional match-winner for the country for more than a decade, and the consistency that he has shown is a great hallmark.”

“That calls for utter and complete dedication to the cause,” said Kumble during a function organised by Tamil Nadu Cricket Association to felicitate Ashwin for completing 100 Tests and 500 wickets.

Kumble said Ashwin has been able to tackle the huge amount of expectations placed on him by the ever-demanding Indian fans.

“In India, once you have raised the bar to a certain level, it isn’t easy to keep performing. The expectations in every game are unrealistically high. Anything less than five wickets is considered a failure. Although unfair to the player concerned, Ashwin has managed that really well,” Kumble said.

Also Read: IND vs ENG Tests | Ashwin has carved a niche in his own unique way

But those numbers are the result of Ashwin’s bloody-minded work on and off the field, reckoned Kumble.

“His numbers have been outstanding. There is no fun in stacking up the wickets if it doesn’t help the team win. He has an overwhelming correlation with his and India’s success. He’s seldom been satisfied with being very good or even excellent. Each day, he wants to be better than the previous one. That’s the sign of a great learner,” he said.

Kumble also praised Ashwin for his in-depth knowledge of the sport, especially of the opponent’s game.

“While we worked together for a year when I was the Indian coach, his thorough preparation and in-depth understanding of the players he was up against was a revelation.

You could see how he set them up, what speeds he bowled at them and from what angles he delivered the ball,” said the Bengaluru man.

The 53-year-old said Ashwin added a lot of value to the team beyond his bowling.

“Besides his bowling, he adds a lot of value with his batting and his input on the field. In white-ball cricket, he has never shied away from experimenting and has even bowled leg-spin. It’s not surprising given how much belief he has in himself, and I’m sure it will continue for long,” he detailed.

Kumble also traced a similar career path for himself and Ashwin.

“Many pundits believe there is a lot of similarity between Ashwin and my career. We have several common threads that unite us. We put pressure on the batters, the close-in fielders, the standing umpires, and in Ashwin’s case, the non-striker, and also the third umpire on some occasions,” he added.

Kumble started as a medium pacer before a local cricketer-official Yousef Motorwala turned him into a leg-spinner. Similarly, Ashwin had always wanted to be a top-order batter before taking up spin as his calling card.

“We both didn’t start off aspiring to be spinners. I wanted to be a fast bowler, and Ashwin had his sights set on becoming a top-order batter. But the elements conspired to thrust us into a journey of great adventure, and that is how I became a leg-spinner, and Ashwin became an off-spinner.

“So, welcome to the 500-wicket club. Congratulations, Ash. You have become a part of a very special club, and it’s great to have a fellow Indian spinner for company,” he concluded.

Ravichandran Ashwin’s 100th Test match

Ashwin moved our understanding of spin forward: Dravid

India head coach Rahul Dravid said Ashwin changed the complexion of spin bowling in the nation.

“I have been thinking about the legacy that someone like Ashwin will leave behind after he is finished. I believe he is not finished for a long time and has many more overs still in him.

“Just thinking about spin bowling, he has moved our understanding and knowledge of spin bowling forward, which is a great legacy. He has left the art and science of spin bowling in a much better place,” said Dravid.

he former Indian skipper said Ashwin will be an inspiration for budding players.

“He always has the desire to contribute to the team’s success, be it with the bat or ball or in the field or off the field. You have inspired a whole generation of young spinners,” he said.

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