Thanks to India’s flat, lifeless pitches, R Ashwin averages 33.55 with the bat. Because of India’s rank turners, he averages 24.29 with the ball.
Or could it be that R Ashwin is India’s best cricketer?
We’ve covered this kind of thing before, but you reach our age and you no longer live in fear of repeating yourself. If we didn’t say things we’d already said, we’d hardly say anything at all.
Our recurring utterances don’t even have to be in the least bit insightful. The phrase we currently use most frequently is: “You’re a cat” – a statement which we (accurately) address to Monty. It’s not entirely clear for whose benefit we voice this reminder. Probably our own in a forlorn and paradoxical bid to slow our decline into fully unhinged Doctor Doolittledom.
Now for the repetition. As we’ve said before, we always find ourself disproportionately annoyed when some commentator or other (probably Michael Vaughan) refers to a batsman as being that team’s “best player”.
Best batsman, yes. Best player, no – never. Test cricket is not a game of run accumulation. It is a game of wicket-taking-while-limiting-the-opposition’s-run-scoring.
To win Tests, you need good bowlers. Ashwin is undeniably that. Bowlers are also obliged to bat and Ashwin is perfectly competent in that discipline too.
But more than anything, the best players elevate themselves by meeting high expectations. It is one thing to take five wickets in an innings. It is another to do it when people expect you to.
After ten wickets in the first Test, four in the second and six in the first innings of the third Test, R Ashwin was widely expected to take a few more. The fact that it was a wearing pitch and New Zealand were batting last certainly didn’t negate this. He took 7-59.
Surely by now India must realise there is no excuse for dropping this man for away Tests. It doesn’t matter what the conditions, this is a cricketer whose results brook no argument.
Sort it out, India. Don’t make us repeat ourself.