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Five things you didn't know about R Ashwin

Unless you went to school with him

© AFP

Over the last year or so, R Ashwin has become the undisputed leader of India's bowling attack. He has become the second fastest bowler, ever, to 200 Test wickets, and his career strike rate is better than that of any other spinner with a minimum of 150 wickets.

But Statsguru can give you all these figures and any others you'd care to throw around in an Ashwin v Yasir v Herath argument. What we can give you, via our December Cricket Monthly cover story, is some real insider information. Here are some facts that will make your friends think you're Ashwin's best bud ("machan", in fact), or that you're nursing a dangerous obsession for him.

1. Ashwin was an annoying and mischievous adolescent. His wife, Prithi Narayanan, who studied with him between classes 8 and 10, remembers: "I couldn't stand him in Class 8. He was extremely naughty, and his group, not his group, but just this bunch of guys in class, ended up getting pulled up for something or the other. They were the same bunch that went out and played cricket, they played ball-badminton, they played tennis or football or whatever, and they were also the same group that got in trouble… I was trying to be studious and all in school, but this guy was this brat who would be up to something or the other."

2. When he was in Class 9, Ashwin suffered a pelvic ligament tear during an Under-14 match. It forced him out of school for two months and out of cricket for a year.

3. Ashwin started off as a medium-pace bowler and batsman. He even played for India U-17 as a batsman. The decision to switch to offspin came because of his hip injury. But his coach at school instructed him not to bowl spin in the state selection trials because he thought Ashwin would make it to the Tamil Nadu junior teams on the strength of his batting alone and didn't want to jeopardise the chances of the school's other offspinners. "But when I played U-17 and I was about to leave the school he told me very clearly, 'One day you'll play for India as an offspinner,'" says Ashwin.

4. Ashwin certainly wasn't the coach's pet as a ten-year-old cricketer, because he had a mind of his own and, even at that age, was very clear about the sort of fields he wanted to set. "When you're playing Under-10 and Under-12 cricket, school coaches never really appreciated the fact that you can have slips. But I couldn't fathom the fact that you can't have slips when you start with the new ball. I always used to have two slips. At ten years old, people used to drop catches at slip, make no mistake about it, but I would always start off with slips. I didn't like the idea of having a third man, because a third man was always a wasted fielder as far as I saw, and to actually hit the ball to third man you needed a basic sort of control with your batting, and otherwise you nicked it to third man, so you might as well have slip in position to get a wicket. Right from ten years old, I was always a rebel, and I used to take a lot of flak for it, and they used to drop me from being a captain, not make me captain sometimes."

5. Ashwin loves watching movies. If you do too, and live in Chennai, you might bump into Ashwin and his father, surrounded by Sathyam Cinema theatre staff, watching every new movie shown there. "I just cannot avoid going to Sathyam Cinemas," says Ashwin.

For more on Ashwin, read our cover story in the Cricket Monthly December issue: Chennai Super King.

And there's plenty more to discover in the December issue: the best signature move in cricket (Viv's flick or KP's surge?); the numbers behind appeals in Tests; a case for why the dead-ball law is unclear; the story behind ghosting autobiographies; a photo feature on cricket and music, and more

 

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  • POSTED BY snoopy93 on | December 22, 2016, 20:29 GMT

    This beautiful picture of Ashwin in NZ in the last series and the pretty girls are my daughter and neice . I took this picture outside the Auckland Airport. As Ashwin was signing the cricket ball he asked ( He is very good on his stats, his wickets etc) my daughter about his recent stats and she mumbled some details and later said that he is the Bomb ,India's weapon. He smiled and signed the cricket ball. I call Ashwin the smiling Terminator. It is lovely to see that this picture is figured when Ash has been voted the International Cricketer of the Year 2016. Go Chennai Boys.

  • POSTED BY bpclsultan on | December 22, 2016, 16:11 GMT

    he is just 44 tests old, give him some time. Maybe the next set of overseas tours to NZ,SA, AUS and ENG should decide that. it is guaranteed that he wont get any help from the pitches, just like earlier Indian spinners. His skills and the recently earned confidence will be a factor in how he performs. As far Warne and Murali are concerned, even they had some blips in their careers; the greatness was achieved over a span 10-15 years of playing, There is a lot of time left in Ashwin and see how he does...

  • POSTED BY cooljack_143 on | December 22, 2016, 16:11 GMT

    Suve on, bcg on..problems with you guys is you don't even want to look at the persons stats , you don't want to look into his achievements or even him being cricketer of the year.so for a person not willing to accept him at all,there is no use of telling you what he did and way he didn't . Despite the stats mentioned by author ,when you are admantly commenting as you like ,it's time to inrospect and look at your selves what you are ?and what you really want to talk about .GL with that .start pondering spinners from SC & don't even mention of how your respective teams are doing when they tour SC. I agree being in Denial helps folks like you to be happy thinking all is merry around . Kudos.

  • POSTED BY suve on | December 22, 2016, 15:28 GMT

    Why is there so much hype about an average spin bowler, sure he is accurate and can be a handful in dry (subcontinental conditions) but is he effective elsewhere? As a finger spinner, he does not produce enough revs on the ball to get any purchase off the pitch anywhere other than the subcontinent, and for his "variations", the carrom ball is much use as an ashtray on a motorbike. The quality of spin bowlers has really dipped in the past 5 years. Imagine if Ashwin played in the same era as Murali and Warne? would he still be the cricketer of the year? In all truth, he is probably the best spinner there is at present, with Yasir Shah and Rangana Herath at about the same calibre, but all average!

  • POSTED BY JaganS on | December 22, 2016, 12:01 GMT

    @ B.C.G ON, Let me put it this way, even excluding the countries mentioned, no other cricketer has done as well as Ashwin has the rest and in India. His batting ability is a huge bonus and it has come in handy for India in many difficult situations. His cricketing brain is legit, India is likely to benefit even after his playing days. Let us not put someone down just by picking out flaws. How many great Australian, South African & English fast bowlers return back from their sub continent tours with limited or no success? They don't get the same scrutiny that spinners from sub continent does. In the case of Ashwin, he has found some way or the other to contribute. Let us appreciate that!

  • POSTED BY A.Ak on | December 22, 2016, 11:46 GMT

    He the best bowler and all rounder in Test matches right now. Doesn't matter if it's home or away!. Some people just don't accept the fact that he has done well and criticizing him for something that he hasn't done! Even the great Shane Warne has shameful record in India, which is the best place for spinner to prove his worth.

  • POSTED BY B.C.G on | December 22, 2016, 11:17 GMT

    Whats his average in Australia, South Africa?

  • POSTED BY Cricinfouser on | December 22, 2016, 8:50 GMT

    All i wanted from Ashwin is one thing, burn 5 to 7 pounds to be the fittest player. He is a good bowler and decent batsmen. If he catch up with fitness, he will be a fantastic fielder. His contribution to team impacted every well in team success....