Ravi Ashwin to play for Worcestershire in county cricket
The off-spinner might play against his international teammate, Cheteshwar Pujara, as early as next month.
What's the story?
Indian off-spinner, Ravichandran Ashwin, is set to make his county debut later this month for Worcestershire County Cricket Club, a Division 2 side.
"Ravi is a fantastic international cricketer who is currently in terrific form with his game. He is ranked in the top three as a bowler in Test cricket, is a wonderful all-rounder who can bat six and scores hundreds in Test cricket," Steve Rhodes, the County's Director of Cricket, said in his exclusive interview with Cricbuzz.
Ashwin will replace Australian spearhead John Hastings in the squad. The pacer will not be available for the rest of the season, courtesy a foot injury.
"It is unlucky for John Hastings with his injury but Ravi is a wonderful cricketer for us to have at a crucial point in our season. It is a really important last few games for the club and to have someone of his ilk and class and quality is a huge boost for the Club. The good thing about Ravi is he has been successful on all types of pitches in all sorts of different continents. He is a class bowler who will bowl well here," Rhodes concluded.
In case you didn't know...
Ashwin's Test teammate, Cheteshwar Pujara, has been a part of county cricket for the past three seasons. He has proclaimed to have improved considerably from participating in the competition and credits it for his consistent performances at the Test level.
The off-spinner was encouraged to participate in county cricket after he was rested from the squad for the upcoming ODI series against England. He has struggled on overseas pitches sporadically, in both formats of the game, and the Indian captain and board believe that the county experience will help him perform better in alien conditions.
MSK Prasad, the head of the National Selection Committee, recently stated that Ashwin playing for Worcestershire is a blessing in disguise for India, as they are set to travel England for a tour next year.
The team has performed radically well under Virat Kohli's captaincy, but both of them haven't taken the sterner overseas test till now.
Ashwin is a vital component of Indian bowling unit, especially in the longest format of the game. Prasad hopes that Ashwin's county stint will give him a first-hand experience of the conditions in England that will prove to be invaluable on the tour.
In all likelihood, Ashwin will play his maiden county match against Gloucestershire on August 28. He might soon play against Pujara when his team takes on Nottinghamshire on September 5.
The foreign conditions will surely test Ashwin and his wicket-taking ability. It will be interesting to see if the offie persists with the offensive approach that he undertakes in home matches or goes down the old road to choose precaution over cure once again.
This is a golden opportunity for Ashwin to revive not only his Test career, but also make a thumping statement for a fixed place in the ODI playing XI.
His defensive bowling in limited overs cricket has attracted a lot of flak over the last few years. The county stint might help him in overcoming this muddle to find a way of attacking even in high-intensity games at the international level.