Should Ashwin consider retirement in ODIs and T20s?
Ravichandran Ashwin, probably the second most popular and valuable player for Indian team in Test matches after Virat Kohli. The spin wizard of India as he is called by his fans, had a transformation from being a deceptive T20 bowler to consistent mark-hitting test match specialist, which has surely made him one of the most evolved cricketers of his generation.
But, with evergrowing talent in Indian cricket, especially in the spin department, with the recent ones being Kuldeep & Chahal. Ashwin's comeback into the shorter formats seem almost impossible at this moment, considering 2019 CWC next year; so is it the "curtain falls" moment for him in shorter formats?
The 32-year-old Chennai-lad burst on to the scene with some brilliant IPL performances during his successful stint with his home franchise, CSK. He was MSD's 'go-to' man during 2011 season, where his bowling armory was revealed to the world, that consisted of the famous carrom ball.
In 111 ODI matches that he has played for India, he has picked up 150 wickets at an average of 32.91, which is a bit on a higher side considering most of them were in India. He still doesn't have a five-for in his ODI career and has only one fifty to boast about his batting skills.
Ashwin was very much part of the 2013 Champions Trophy that India won. He picked seven wickets in five matches at a good average & economy of 29.42 and 5.56 respectively. But considering his performance with his partner Jadeja who won the golden ball for picking up 12 wickets in the same number of matches at an average of 12.83 and economy of 3.75 per over, was more effective with left arm off spin.
His performances in SENA nations has been questionable. He had the backing off MS Dhoni, but not after Virat took the helm. Since Virat became a full-time captain Ashwin hasn't been a regular part of ODIs and T20s. Since the 2015 CWC he has played nine matches and picked up 12 wickets which is a very less number of games compared to the period between 2011 to 2013 where he played 39 matches and picked 48 wickets.
Ashwin's unnecessary variation has led to his criticism by ex-cricketers. His one over hardly consists conventional off-breaks anymore. For an off-spinner it's good to have variations, but too many variations lead to showcasing his inability to have that control over the ball. This has happened a lot overseas, with him not able to grip the kookaburra or dukes.
With Kuldeep and Chahal exploiting the unfavourable conditions in South Africa and England, they have certainly looked like a better combo than Ashwin and Jadeja. While Jadeja has made a comeback into the ODI squad against WI and performed well, it will be testing time for Ashwin.
He should decide whether he wants to make a comeback into the ODIs or T20s or whether look for a longer test career; which has been a staggering career so far; especially in India.
Being an intelligent cricketer himself, it's the right time for Ashwin to decide upon how he wants to go forward, since there might be only 4-5 years of cricket left with him. For a tested match-winner of his calibre, it would be the perfect time for him to clear the way for the next-generation leading into the 2019 World Cup for the selectors. Thus, choosing to say goodbye to the shorter formats and continue his good work by growing in Test matches.