Is Ravichandran Ashwin greater than Erapalli Prasanna and Jim Laker?

Updated: Dec 28, 2016, 11:15 IST | V Ramnarayan |

Only time will tell, and Ravichandran Ashwin has that on his side; he has evidently put in much thought and effort into his bowling as the considerable improvement in each of the foregoing aspects of his craft shows

Ravichandran AshwinIndia’s R Ashwin in full flight during the fourth Test vs England at Wankhede Stadium earlier this month. Pic/SURESH KARKERA 

I was not impressed when I first set my eyes on R Ashwin.

His run-up was awkward, his body was falling away in his delivery stride, he did not finish his action in the classic manner with right hand slapping the outside of his left thigh, his left leg did not stand erect, but seemed to buckle, and he lacked a follow through.

On the asset side of the balance sheet, he kept unfurling a whole new bag of tricks unknown to many of his predecessors, loads of confidence, and this uncanny ability to take wickets. I was intrigued, but not convinced of the quality of his bowling, tending to dismiss his unusual success rate to poor batting, spin-friendly wickets; and luck. And, I, like some of my contemporaries, waited for the coin to drop and for batsmen to unravel his bowling. It never happened.

That was aeons ago. Since then, Ashwin has evidently put in much thought and effort into his bowling as the considerable improvement in each of the foregoing aspects of his craft shows. Accused of trying too many variations, he has, instead of cutting down on variety, actually added a couple of new deliveries to the carrom ball, his first invention to take the cricket world by storm.

What he has done to convert raw talent into a weapon of opposition destruction has been the large increment in control and accuracy he has sweated to achieve. He studies and analyses each and every batsman and works out a tailor-made strategy for each of them. He sets elaborate traps sometimes, but his more straightforward ones work just as well. While he revels in dismissing the best batsmen, he must be the best polisher-off of the tail in the world.

Is Ashwin the best spinner India has produced? Is he greater than EAS Prasanna or England’s Jim Laker? Only time will tell, and Ashwin has that on his side.

He must be the most elegant No. 7, now No. 6, in the world, and we have come to count on him to come good every time the side needs runs from him. He tends to throw away his wicket at other times, much like the great Gundappa Viswanath, though it is VVS Laxman that Ashwin the batsman resembles.

To be voted the ICC Cricketer of the Year and Test Player of the Year is a magnificent reward for the quiet worker that Ashwin has been, without the glamour and flamboyance of a Virat Kohli or AB DeVilliers. And yes, that he is not the most athletic of fielders is undeniable - a reminder that he is human.

He sets elaborate traps sometimes, but his more straightforward ones work just as well. While he revels in dismissing the best batsmen, he must be the best polisher-off of the tail in the world

To be voted the ICC Cricketer of the Year and Test Player of the Year is a magnificent reward for the quiet worker that Ashwin has been without the glamour and flamboyance of a Kohli or de Villiers

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