TNPL 2018: Music is a stress buster for me, says Ashwath Mukunthan
It is not always easy to comprehend the pressure that a player is under when he steps onto the field. They can be armed with all the necessary information, possess plenty of skill but going out in front of a huge crowd, playing under lights and on national television on a daily basis is not something that everyone is prepared for at the outset.
Especially not someone who isn't used to being on the spotlight and isn't used to the camera crews and being the cynosure of all eyes. So it isn't surprising to see players attempt different things as they try and get to grips with their new reality.
Some try yoga, others opt for meditation but for Karaikudi Kaalai fast bowler Ashwath Mukunthan, music is what helps him cope with the rigors of cricket. In conversation with Sportskeeda, the pacer spoke about his passion for music, breaking TNPL records for fun and harsh realities of being a bowler in the modern game.
"My primary profession is cricket. I just do music because I have a passion for it. Music is a stress buster for me. It comes naturally to me and I wouldn't let go of music anytime," says Ashwath.
While he admits that he isn't ready to think about a career in music post-cricket, he admits that music helps him switch on and off and his performances have improved since he started playing music.
Speaking of performances, his exploits on the field have certainly been impressive. Already the owner of the record for the best bowling figures on TNPL debut, courtesy of his five-wicket haul with Chepauk Super Gillies in the inaugural edition of the tournament, he became the first bowler to pick up two five-wicket hauls in the tournament after his five-fer against Dindigul Dragons in Tirunelveli on 30 July 2018.
"Nobody plans for a five-wicket haul in T20s," he admits. "Maybe in the longer format we can but in the shorter formats, taking five wickets is really rare. I've just been lucky to get two five-wicket hauls and I just working to be more consistent. Consistency is better than creating rare records. I would like to be a consistent bowler than creating any records."
Even as Ashwath attempts to be his most consistent self, he understands that T20 is a "very cruel game" for the bowlers and the job doesn't get any easier but he knows what needs to be done.
" T20 is a very cruel game for the bowlers. Even the best bowlers in the world have got hit for runs, so coming back strong is very important in this format. We need to know our strengths and plan our bowling according to that. If someone is good at delivering yorkers, he must develop a second variation without letting go of the first.
"Variations are very important in T20 and it is important to keep upgrading the variations as well. Doing the same thing will make it predictable and we need to react to the situations and need to be really proactive. You need to be on your toes always," he adds.
Although the 22-year-old has only played a handful of TNPL games, he has already understood what it takes to perform at the highest. He is "really confident" about his change of pace, which he has worked a lot on but understands that he still has plenty of scope for improvement.
He admits that he is looking forward to playing all three formats but is grateful to the TNCA for the platform that TNPL has provided, not just for him but also plenty of other aspiring cricketers in Tamil Nadu.
" I think it has been a massive positive impact in our state. Before this, I don't think many of us would have played flood-light cricket, with a big crowd and live telecast across the country. It is a really good experience. Whenever we go to the next level, it will be a very good practice for us here. With two formats being played under lights, we need to get used to this and move forward," adds Ashwath.
But what about his own start in TNPL as a raw 20-year-old pacer for Chepauk Super Gillies? Was he nervous before his big game and has the feeling of anxiety and nerves eased as he has played more games in the TNPL?
He describes the feeling of playing under lights on national TV as simply surreal and admits that there was still butterflies in his stomach before his record-breaking performance against Dindigul in TNPL 2018.
"Every game we go into there is a lot of pressure but the first time I played in the TNPL, it was totally different for me," he fondly recollects.
Having just come back after a lengthy layoff with injury, is the 22-year-old thinking about what a good finish to TNPL 2018 might mean for him? He shrugs and adds that he isn't looking at the big picture just yet.
"I just need to be doing well, whenever I get a chance, wherever I get a chance. Keeping myself ready for any selection and doing well in all three formats is very important for me.
"Selection is not in our hands, the only thing we can do is work hard, come inside the field and play hard. So I'd like to keep delivering good performances and hope the future holds something good for me," he concludes as he walks back to his teammates and gets ready for another opportunity to showcase all he has learned so far.
For more TNPL related news, log on to www.tnca.inPublished 09 Aug 2018, 13:29 IST