This year, though the focus would still be on the twelfth edition of the Indian Premier League, the primary focus will be on the most prestigious tournament of the year - ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. Almost every team is trying to tick every box and have the best combination which eventually can help them get close to the coveted title. For India, the spin sensation Ravichandran Ashwin, who has been exceedingly successful for India in all three formats of the game but hasn't featured in the limited overs arena ever since the introduction of two young spinners - Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav.
With the World Cup squad yet to be announced, Ravichandran Ashwin echoed sentiments reminding that he is “no slouch with white ball”.“I don’t know, it is a perception. I am no slouch. In the white ball format, my records are not as bad as what it is perceived to be. It is out of the perception that wrist spinners are required in modern one day cricket that I am sitting out,” straight-talking off-spinner said when asked about the challenge of concentrating on one format. He also pointed out that in his last ODI game for the country against the West Indies in North Sound on June 30, 2017, he had returned with figures of 3 for 28.
“The last ODI I played, I got 3 for 28. I would always look back at my career and I would like to believe it’s not due to my efforts that I am sitting out (but) it is due to the supply and demand that the team requires,” he said. Ashwin is happy with his performance in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy where he got seven wickets from six games at a decent economy.
“I went and played the Syed Mushtaq Ali (T20 tournament) and I had a decent outing. That’s how I look at it. I am playing cricket and it is not like I need to specialise in one particular format. It is the challenges of the modern day game, I will be looking forward to doing whatever I can do best,” explained the 32-year bowler.
On the issue of limiting the workload on India players in the IPL ahead of the World Cup, Ashwin said it’s not easy to look too far ahead and also mentioned that the players knew about how to maintain fitness.“I don’t think as a cricketer you can look far ahead about what needs to be done and how you can manage it. As a cricketer or as a sportsperson, you just concentrate on what happens today. The franchise has invested money on you. Obviously, it is a massive tournament, everybody plays for pride, everybody wants to perform and excel.”
However, he agreed that the workload factor will always stay at the back of their heads.“It definitely stays at the back of the head because it is being spoken about a lot more right now. I am sure the players are responsible enough and more fitness-aware and be able to handle it than they ever were. I don’t think going into the tournament people will be thinking about it but as the tournament pans out and the way it goes for each and every franchise and for each and every player, they will take decisions wisely.”
But at the same time, he said the World Cup is huge and no one wants to miss it.“Probably because of the number of injuries and the number of premium players that are right now available for the country and how important every spot is. It is a dream for every cricketer to represent his country at the World Cup, it is a big stage. Obviously, bowlers have more chances of succumbing to injuries because of the workload they go through It is physically harder on the body than the batters. Probably from that point of view, if you look at a (Jasprit) Bumrah or a Bhuvneshwar - Bumrah has been fine but Bhuvneshwar has had a few (fitness) concerns over the last year or so. I think from that point of view the bowlers need to be taken good care of,” he added.
Ashwin also said that there has been no communication with the franchises about the chances of some players missing part of IPL, commencing on March 23, owing to the World Cup that follows from May 30 in England.“No, we have no intimation regarding any such player policy or anything like that and they have been very clear in terms of communication with regards to whatever needs to be communicated to the franchise so far. Yes, the schedule is not out yet like we all know but the elections are something that is more important than anything else,” he concluded.