Former England off-spinner Graeme Swann believes Ravichandran Ashwin is a better Test bowler than a white-ball tweaker. Swann made his assessment in a recent video shared by cricket.com on their YouTube channel.
Swann heaped high praise on Ashwin for his remarkable accuracy in Test match cricket, especially in home conditions. However, he also said that Ashwin struggles in overseas conditions because the Tamil Nadu cricketer tried too hard to take wickets. Swann said:
"He is a much better Test bowler than in ODIs or T20s. He is a good white-ball bowler. But in red-ball cricket, especially in India, his accuracy is incredible. You look for accuracy in a finger spinner and he has got that. He doesn't bowl any bad balls all day. His record in India is phenomenal. He's not good in overseas because he tries too hard to take wickets."
Ashwin has been India's biggest match-winner in Test cricket since making his debut in 2011. The joint-fastest to claim 350 wickets and second fastest to 400, the veteran cricketer also has five hundreds against his name.
Ashwin is close to impossible to play in home conditions and while he struggled in SENA countries during the first half of his career, the 35-year-old has made remarkable improvements in the last three years.
Ashwin recently made a comeback to the T20I side after a gap of 4.5 years. The champion cricketer is also the leading wicket-taker for his side in T20 World Cups.
Finger spinners don't really try to spin the ball in the last 10 years: Graeme Swann
However, Ashwin's potency as a white-ball bowler has starkly declined in the last 3-4 years. This has coincided with the decline of off-spin in general in shorter formats, especially in T20s.
Wrist spinners have been ruling the roost in one-day and T20 cricket. Swann believes modern-day off-spinners don't try to spin the ball as hard as they should. However, he reckons that off-spinners will eventually make a return after batters decode the mystery surrounding wrist-spinners in coming years. Swann said:
"There are lots of leg spinners currently, and at the end, people will conquer them. There are less finger spinners now so players will play them less, will know less and less seen. So they will get hard to tackle. Finger spinners don't really try to spin the ball in the last 10 years. That's got to change."
"There aren't that many quality finger spinners. They seem to be struggling. Finger spinners will come into play, there is definitely a future for them."
It will be interesting to see what the future holds for traditional spinners in the shorter formats. As for now, wrist spinners are clearly the flavour.