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3 spinners who are as good as Ravichandran Ashwin

Akshay Sharma
Top 5 / Top 10
6.94K   //    Timeless

2nd Test - Australia v India: Day 2

When one looks at Ravichandran Ashwin’s career stats, he is bound to be amazed. The off-spinner completed 300 Test wickets in just 54 matches – faster than anyone else in the history of the game – and currently has 311 scalps from just 57 games.

So, the question is bound to arise – where does Ashwin rank among the greats of the game? Is he one of the all-time greats, or indeed, the greatest spinner of all time? Is he in the same category as Shane Warne, Muttiah Muralitharan and Anil Kumble?

To understand a player’s position in the pantheon of the greats of the game, it is useful to compare that cricketer with his contemporaries and see whether he is a cut above them. If that is the case, then that player is in a league of his own and a candidate for the category of the best players across the eras.

Therefore, the question has to be asked – Is Ashwin way ahead of the competition in this era or part of a general trend of success for spinners? While no one, at the moment, comes close to matching Ashwin’s prolificity, there are three other tweakers in the world game worthy of being put in the same category as him in terms of their performances.

Here is a list of those three spinners who can challenge Ashwin’s supremacy among the current generation of spinners.

#3 Rangana Herath

Australia v Sri Lanka - Second Test: Day 2
Rangana Herath has been successful in unhelpful conditions of Australia as well

Sri Lanka’s Rangana Herath has played 32 more Tests than Ashwin and has 104 more wickets than him. Not a bad record but one that Ashwin would better easily if he keeps progressing at his present rate of success.

But Herath’s career has been in two parts – the first when he was a sidekick to Muttiah Muralitharan and the second after he became the lead spinner in the Lankan team. This corresponds roughly to the period beginning from 2011.

If we look at Herath’s record since Ashwin’s debut, it’s incredibly similar to that of the Chennai lad. In this period Herath has played the same number of matches as the Indian off spinner – 57 – and has picked 305 wickets – just six short of Ashwin’s corresponding number. Ashwin’s average and strike rate (25.56 and 53.1 respectively) is almost the same as Herath’s numbers (25.74 and 55.3).


So, Herath is certainly a match for Ashwin but is he better? One can argue in the favour of the Sri Lankan leftie by pointing out that while Ashwin has struggled in unhelpful conditions of Australia and South Africa, Herath has been quite effective.

His performance on his team’s 2012-13 tour down under was very good and included a five-for. In fact, Herath was the biggest threat to the Aussie batsmen in that series. In South Africa, he produced a match-winning performance in the Durban Test of 2011 wherein he took nine wickets in the game.

Therefore, fans of the Lankan left-armer can argue for him being considered an even better bowler than Ashwin. While that is an interesting debate to have, one has to accept that Rangana is certainly not lesser than Ashwin in terms of quality.

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Akshay Sharma
Former Sports Correspondent with The Pioneer newspaper, Cricket chauvinist but with a great deal of interest and love for hockey, badminton and handball
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