After becoming the fastest Indian bowler to pick 400 wickets in Tests cricket, R Ashwin said he was an ‘accidental cricketer’. Speaking to India’s fielding coach R Sridhar in a video uploaded by BCCI, Ashwin and said that he was primarily a cricket lover who went on to become a cricketer living his dream.
“I accidentally became a cricketer. I am a cricket lover who actually went on to become a cricketer. I am living my dream here. I never imagined I will wear the Indian jersey and play. For someone who loves the game so much, what better it can be to come and play the game,” he said. “Every time I finish playing a game and if I get that winning result for the team, I just feel like I have been given a blessing. The COVID-19 times made me feel how lucky I am to actually play for India. Even when I came back from the IPL, I never thought I will play in Australia. That is why I said everything has been a gift, for the love with which I play, I think the game is giving me back.”
Ashwin revealed that he is a student of the game and that he watched hours of footage, especially during the lockdown.
“In Australia, before the Adelaide Test, I watched footage for eight straight hours. Planning for me goes to a different level. I do not know why I started doing it but it’s just that I do not want to leave any stone unturned. I used to watch a lot of footage even before but I think the understanding of the game has gone one notch higher,” he said.
“What happened during the lockdown was that I was watching a lot of cricket from the past, like Sachin’s (Tendulkar) hundred at Chepauk and all kinds of stuff on Youtube. And I started picking up fine queues and think why haven’t I picked all these things and figured all these things and it just struck me. After that, I started watching footage differently and once I started watching, it became fun because I am able to pick batsmen like what they are doing and even before I bowl the ball, I kind of understand what kind of shot they are going to play.”
Ashwin said he felt ’empty’ initially when he got to the 400 wickets landmark.
“Initial feeling? It was quite empty to be honest because we were under immense pressure today. We only got a 30-run lead and the game was in the balance. I was in the moment, and only after we took the DRS, I realised the 400-wicket feat. After they flashed the 400 wickets on the board, the entire stadium was up and everyone was clapping. I cannot put my finger and say (exactly) how I feel,” he said.
Ashwin, who collected the stumps after the game, joked that MS Dhoni has a lot more stumps collection than him.
“I think MS has a lot more than I do. For a large part of my early career, I have not been very good at all this. Now I cherish every moment. It has been very special and I have been collecting stumps.”
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