India's Ace Spinner, Virat and Dhoni's go to man, Ravichandra Ashwin had a fantastic year 2016, not only he was the top wicket-taker but he did exceptionally well with bat against West Indies, New Zealand and England. With couple of hundreds against West Indies, backing it up with good performance against England and New Zealand, Ravi Ashwin matured as a batsman, while in bowling department he became fastest Indian to 200 wickets in Test Cricket. Not only he won various Man of The Match and Man of the series awards, but at the year end he claimed ICC Test Cricketer and Cricketer of the Year Award as well.
The Indian ace spinner picked up 72 wickets in 12 Tests and scoring 612 runs at an average of 43.7, including two centuries.While in Tests he was just excellent, his form in T20 was equally good, with 23 wickets from 17 matches at an economy of 6.3.
The 30-year-old in an exclusive chat with Sports 360 spoke about the stupendous year that he had, during the launch of East Sports Management Cricket Academy at the Shyam Bhatia Cricket Museum in Dubai. Ashwin takes a lot of pride in his performances as he said "I think I am always the most important cricketer in the team and most important cricketer for myself. I want to be invaluable for any team that I am part of, be it a league game in Chennai, Ranji Trophy match for Tamil Nadu, IPL teams or for India. I take a lot of pride in my performance. So my contribution is my only focus and not what I bring to the game or who I was before I got into the game,"
Reflecting on his decision to take cricket as a career Ashwin adds, "No one asked me to take up this game. If I had failed, nobody would have taken care of my life. I decided to embark upon this career, took a chance and went all in at the poker table. I went after my dream, and here I am achieving what I want to do in life.”
Many cricket pundits reckons his recent success is due to the slight change in his action and his attitute, which Ashwin's views are different as he reveals he hasn't changed much, "I haven’t changed much, to be honest. The changes visible out on the field are a reflection of the complicated person you see in me. Because of who I am dictates those changes on the field. You won’t see many people around in the world, in any profession, who will be able to change or go all in to try and change something about themselves to be excellent. People settle for what they have in life and kind of stagnate. There are probably less than 1 per cent of people who want to take the chances that I do. I am proud of myself but I feel I haven’t changed that much, just matured a bit more,”
Speaking on the first hundred he scored in Year 2016 in Antigua at Number 6, Ashwin mentioned Antigua as special, “What gives me a kick is people throw me down, criticise me and speculate about me. And when I come roaring back into the game and prove myself is what gives me a kick and that’s why it Antigua match was special.”
Speaking on the difference between his approach as a Batsman and Bowler, Ashwin adds, "As a batsman, you don’t need a lot of help from anybody. You are on your own. You are given a number, you go out and bat and control most of your things. But as a bowler, it is very important you have the confidence and support of the captain on the field. As important it is to pick up those wickets and try and turn the game around, it’s also about the captain throwing you the ball and saying ‘come win the game for me’… or throwing the ball to me with a little bit of a doubt. It makes a huge difference to a bowler. Virat deserves a lot of credit for that,"
Speaking on the opposition, Ashwin said, he respects each and every player of England, as he concludes, "I have a lot of respect for their players, they really played well but at the crucial moments in every match, we capitalised really well. That is also a message for our team saying how good we can be in the future. Personally I enjoyed the series. Now that it is over and we come up on the right side (result wise), it’s time to look forward and go into the next series with a positive mindset.”