Ravichandran Ashwin turned up for his club team days after a gruelling IPL season and the star India spinner says he did that to get into the red ball cricket mode ahead of the rescheduled fifth Test in England beginning July 1. The Indian Test team is likely to depart for England on June 15. They will play a warm up game ahaomst Leicestershire before the Test at Edgbaston. Ashwin chose to turn out for his club side MRC ‘A’ in the TNCA First Division semifinal and final just days after being part of the Rajasthan Royals in the IPL final.
“The purpose of playing these games (First Division) is to shift from 20 overs to this (red-ball) format… All these things are workload management. As you grow older, you play more and play smarter.
“I am trying to do that. I am enjoying my game. I just want to go there (England) and take it as it comes. I feel I can contribute with the bat and bowl well. I want to keep ticking on my fitness and keep working,” the 35-year old spinner told reporters after leading MRC ‘A’ to their maiden First Division title.
Asked if he had set any targets for himself, Ashwin, who recently overtook the legendary Kapil Dev (434) to become the second highest wicket-taker for India (with 442 scalps) behind ace leg-spinner Anil Kumble (619), he said: “I have worked incredibly hard on my game. I think a lot.
“I have done all these things over the years that I feel I am in a position where I can take it as it comes. I am happy playing the kind of cricket I am playing. I do not want to think too far ahead.”
Ashwin, who has been keen to ensure Tamil Nadu get back to their dominant ways in the Ranji Trophy, said steps need to be taken to revive the red-ball culture in the state and wished to see the TNCA revert to the three-day or four-day format for the First Division league next year. It is now played on a two-day format.
“I would like to see the First Division go back to the days when I started playing. There was seriously good quality. I wish the TNCA pushes the game to three or four days next year.
“Only if these quality players play back to back against each other, there will be more competition for places. Tamil Nadu cricket, yes, we have done superbly well in the white-ball game.
“If we have to revive the red-ball culture, the First Division is the place where we start. I believe I am giving my 1 per cent by coming back and playing here. With our team, there has been a lot of hard work. There have been a lot of disappointments,” he added.
Tamil Nadu, though successful in the white-ball formats (T20 and 50-overs) have not been able to get past the league stage in the last couple of Ranji seasons.
“If you are serious about playing good red-ball cricket, both our fast bowling and our batting against fast bowling definitely need to go up. There are no two ways about it.
“At the moment, there is intent. Our fast bowlers are struggling to find the right length and balance. We have got spin by a dozen; we can manage and all that. In the Ranji Trophy also, when spin comes into play, we come to our own. We know how to do it. Fast bowling is something that we definitely need to work on,” he added.
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