Ash­win stopped watch­ing cricket

‘Just Wanted To Play, Was Hard To Sit Out’

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Sport - JAC.Glad­[email protected] times­

Visakhapat­nam: There’s been a lot of de­bate over R Ash­win in re­cent times, ever since fit­ness is­sues laid him low fol­low­ing the Ade­laide Test against Aus­tralia in 2018. The chat­ter in­creased dur­ing In­dia’s tour of the West In­dies, when the team man­age­ment pre­ferred Ravin­dra Jadeja to the offie. Ash­win, mean­while, used the last nine months to re­ju­ve­nate him­self. A stint in county cricket with Not­ting­hamshire kept him in good stead, as did league cricket back home and the Tamil Nadu Pre­mier League.

There was some con­cern ahead of the Test series whether Ash­win would be made to sit out again but skip­per Vi­rat Kohli cleared the air ahead of this Test, clar­i­fy­ing Ash­win would start. So, the first Test of the year was re­ward­ing in more ways than one for Ash­win.

Af­ter re­duc­ing South Africa to 39/3 on the sec­ond day, Ash­win and Jadeja toiled on the third day but the for­mer had rea­son to be happy with his 27th five-for in Test cricket. “I stopped watch­ing cricket. To stay away from cricket is very tough for me. To sub­sti­tute that, I played what­ever games I got. I made an op­por­tu­nity for my­self to play county cricket. I played the TNPL as much as I could, played league cricket in Chen­nai.

Ahead of this Test, skip­per Kohli had said that given his bat­ting cre­den­tials, Ash­win start­ing the match at home was a no-brainer. “It is very im­por­tant to do what I do,” Ash­win said. “I’ve lit­er­ally stopped read­ing about the game like I used to do in the past. In as much as you want to know stuff, you want to watch the game, there was a phase where I ac­tu­ally stopped watch­ing cricket for a brief pe­riod. I just wanted to play. In terms of ad­dress­ing in­juries and why it hap­pened, it is bet­ter left to the med­i­cal staff. I was play­ing 12 months a year and a spike in work­load prob­a­bly would have caused it. With all due re­spect to ev­ery­one, I en­joyed what­ever cricket I played over the past six months.”

So why did he stop watch­ing the game? “Ev­ery time I watched the game on TV, I felt like I wanted to play the game and that I was miss­ing out. It’s very nat­u­ral, every­body goes through it. But that’s not the be all and end all. I tried to do a few other things in my life as well.

“My life has been all about cricket for the last 25 years. I thought my life, my fam­ily, my friends, every­body de­served a lit­tle bit more of my time. So I tried to spend a lot more time away from the game,” he said.

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