Is R Ashwin one of India’s best all-rounders?
In the second test match against Bangladesh on Christmas Day, Ravichandran Ashwin’s 42-run effort was essential in keeping India from suffering a humiliating loss. India struggled to reach 74/7 when chasing a difficult goal of 145, but Ashwin and Shreyas Iyer guided the team to victory. Ashwin claimed six wickets in total and scored the game’s winning runs with the bat.
Ashwin is without a doubt among the best red-ball bowlers of all time. He is also well renowned for being a more than capable hitter. But it is simple to lose sight of Ashwin’s incredible all-around talent and how uncommon it is for one cricketer to possess all of his skill sets in the midst of the mundaneness of his genius over the previous ten years.
After a strong performance for Chennai Super Kings in the 2010 IPL, Ashwin was drafted for the India team. Many first viewed him as a white-ball “novelty spinner,” but after making his debut in 2011, his years of Ranji Trophy expertise and educated cricketing mind helped him become an instant success in the lengthier format.
He has appeared in 88 test matches, in which he has bowled 3929 overs (nearly 45 overs per game on average), while also taking 449 wickets with a strike rate of 52.5 and an average of 24.3 (better than Shane Warne) (better than Muthiah Muralidaran). Even more impressive is his performance on the subcontinent, where in 60 matches he has 362 wickets at an average of 21.44.
Ashwin’s rigorous game analysis and ongoing invention are the foundation of his bowling brilliance. What impressed me was his intelligence, as his childhood coach S Subramaniam once noted in an interview. His use of angles, the crease’s length, and width. predicting what a batsman would do, as well.
Ashwin has received nine player of the series honours during his career, second only to Muralidaran’s eleven. He has dominated international cricket and is possibly India’s all-time best test match bowler thanks to his off-spin.
From the 1970s spinner quartet of Bedi, Chandrashekhar, Prasanna, and Venkatraghavan through Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble, India has produced some illustrious spinners throughout the years. These pioneers have been effectively emulated by Ashwin, who has perhaps even surpassed them.
While he may never amass enough wickets to match Kumble’s total, he does have a much higher average and strike rate (619 wickets at an average of 29.6 and a s/r of 66) than the former India captain. His total performance is far superior to Harbhajan’s.
He has played more gigs than the entire illustrious quartet combined, and he still has a better track record to be proud of. While it is difficult to categorically compare modern multi-format athletes to cricketers from the 1970s, it is arguably reasonable to refer to Ashwin as India’s greatest test bowler.
The batter, Ashwin
Ashwin has always thought of himself as a batter and batted first while he was in school. He has scored 3043 runs in his test career, with five centuries and 13 fifties at an average just above 27.
These are excellent stats for a player who has spent over 70% of his innings batting at positions 8 and 9. He has arguably batted too low in the order for the majority of his career. A respectable middle-order batsman would be proud of his average of 35.4 throughout the fifteen innings he has played at number 6, which includes two hundreds and two fifties.
Ashwin’s batting combines toughness and game awareness; he defends his wicket when necessary and attacks the right matches when they present themselves. While his batting performance suffered after 2016, he has since regained his composure and played vital match-winning (or saving) innings both domestically and abroad.
In the infamous tie with Australia in Sydney in 2021, Ashwin fought 128 balls from a formidable Australian assault while suffering from back spasms. Hanuma Vihari was limping and he scored 39 runs to help India win the test match via pure willpower. Today’s innings by Ashwin against Bangladesh were fundamentally different. He displayed tenacity when he first entered the game, but as India neared the target, he started to attack the Bangladeshi bowlers, concluding the match with a flurry of boundaries.
Putting Ashwin's performance in context
In cricket, most all-rounders have a dominant skill and a secondary skill that is useful enough for their team to regularly rely on them. Ashwin represents the pinnacle of this group. He is among the greatest bowlers of all time and a solid lower-order batsman.
The next best batter is likely Stuart Broad, who is one of the eight bowlers in test cricket history with more wickets than Ashwin (with an average of 18, almost 10 less than Ashwin). Additionally, there are two centuries between all eight participants (Broad and Anil Kumble). Ashwin has five.
Only the great Richard Hadlee took 400 wickets and 3000 runs among all-rounders faster than Ashwin, who reached that milestone today in his 88th game (83 games). Shaun Pollock and Kapil Dev were 15 and 27 games behind Ashwin when he accomplished this milestone, respectively. The pinnacle of contemporary all-rounders, Andrew Flintoff, has the same number of hundreds as Ashwin, who is also a much better bowler overall.
These figures highlight how unique and hard to come by someone like Ashwin is. It’s rarer than most people realise to be an expert at one craft and above average at another. If it weren’t for his bowling, Ashwin would easily be among the best players. He is at the top of the top thanks to his batting.