After enduring a frustrating four-year wait to play white-ball cricket for India and spending his time on the sidelines during the Test series against England, spinner Ravichandran Ashwin made an impressive comeback to international cricket by picking two wickets for just 14 runs against Afghanistan in the T20 World Cup on Wednesday. Before that match, he played shorter-format for the national team way back in 2017.
Incidentally, it was Ashwin's first competitive match for India since he competed in the World Test Championship against New Zealand after which skipper Virat Kohli didn't show much faith in the present Test team's most decorated match-winner. Speaking at the press conference ahead of the Scotland encounter, Ashwin stated that 'life is a circle" and there is nothing better than embracing humility during periods of success.
"Fortunately, I believe life is a full circle. For some people. it's a small one and for some people, it's a large one. Understanding patterns is something I have done very well in my life over the last couple of years. Whenever I have had very good stretches of form or whenever it has been the other way, I have always had some deep trenches, long periods of lull that one has to go through," Ashwin said, on eve of the T20 World Cup game against Scotland.
"I don't want to read too much into it as to why those lulls have happened but definitely it's a pattern, I have embraced in my life. So staying humble through periods of success is a statement that a lot of people in my fraternity make, but I have firmly embraced it and lived it."
Ashwin feels that Shane Warne's philosophy of having more failures than success in an entire career is an apt observation.
"I believe success is like what Shane Warne had once said. 'You only get success 33 percent of the times and even Sachin (Tendulkar) had also echoed at some stage of his career. If they are saying, who am I? I am no different. It's easy to lose motivation and lose hope and close those doors, hide behind it and keep complaining, something that I will definitely not do," the articulate Chennai man said.
"Easiest way is to go through a professional circle and keep preparing, keep working hard and expecting that an opportunity will turn up at your door step one day. And when it happens, you have all the options to break open doors and break open latches, locks and that's what life is all about. So look for those days and keep preparing like that day would come."
Ashwin feels that what he has done for the sport is more important than what are his returns from it. "For me, it's not what the game has given me but what I have given to the game and how much I have enjoyed playing the game. If I am asked to put three stumps anywhere and play a game , I will do it with utmost enjoyment. I have evolved as T20 bowler since I was dropped in 2017.
It seems a lot like coming home, as both Ashwin and Jadeja were jettisoned from the Indian squad in the aftermath of the ICC Champions Trophy in 2017 as India put their trust in the wrist-spinning duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav. Now that both Ashwin and Jadeja are back in the Indian T20I squad, Ashwin reiterated something he had said multiple times in the past that circles are never completed.
"Circles are never completed. They keep going in loops, I can't say if it's come around or not," Ashwin replied when asked if he and Ravindra Jadeja playing together for the first time in four years in white ball cricket means that finger spinners are back in demand.
"Ever since 2017, I was going through a great phase in my Test career and I felt like I was bowling amazing stock balls (primary ball, off-break for Ashwin) at that point in time. Like I said, circle stops and it has stations at every single place and that Champions Trophy final in 2017 was one such station where I had to halt and think about my cricket."
In fact, a lot of experts still can't figure out subtle changes in angles and refer to his famous carrom ball. "Ever since that I have evolved as a T20 bowler, bowled a lot more deliveries that are so subtle that people are still terming them as carrom balls, arm balls but those are very subtle. I am trying to create different angles and seam positions.
"The delivery that got Gulbdin Naib was anything but a carrom ball. I worked on it. I have got so many more options than what I particularly had at that point."