Before anything, the last two weeks or so has seen some interesting comebacks in Indian cricket – both within the BCCI and, of course, also in the 22 yards. 

What turned into a family season for the Indian Cricket Board, the elections at various states saw the kith and kin of former officials getting elected for the topmost posts. For instance, former President Anurag Thakur’s younger brother, Arun Thakur, was elected as the President of the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association. It must be remembered that the elder Thakur was ousted by the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) in 2017. 

Much to the annoyance of the CoA, the daughter of N. Srinivasan, Rupa Gurunath, was also appointed as the president of the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA). Srinivasan is still a pivotal figure in Tamil Nadu and had the final word in matters related to cricket in the state. The two appointments will particularly act as a thorn in the flesh for the CoA for sure as it questions the changes it has brought, especially in administrative perspective. 

The reality is – and the CoA knows this very well – that it is quite difficult for them to stop the power that runs the gentleman’s game in this country. It does not take rocket science to understand that the power dynamics of the BCCI is as complex as the national politics in India. The once-powerful regional heads of various state boards still refuse to leave and are now exerting their authority by getting their sons, daughters, and even brothers appointed. 

If this is the scene in the boardroom, the scene on the pitch shows that the dominant Indian Cricket Team under the leadership of Virat Kohli continues to perform well. The Men in White crushed South Africa in the recently concluded First Test in Visakhapatnam. The 22 yards in Vizag witnessed two sensational comebacks from off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and his teammate Rohit Sharma, who opened for the first time in Test cricket. And both of them have staged their comebacks in style. 

More than the fact that Ashwin became the fastest Indian bowler to scalp 350 wickets in Tests equalling Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan’s feat, it was his first Test after nearly a year’s absence from white-ball cricket. Ashwin’s match haul of eight wickets also catapulted him into the top ten in the latest ICC rankings. 

Ashwin, who is always known to hide his emotions and speak his mind, however, dropped hints of it only during the press conference. It was here that he revealed that while the team management ignored him during most of India’s overseas tours since December 2018 (when he played for the last time), he even took a break from watching cricket on TV and reading about the game. 

“To stay away from cricket itself was very tough for me… 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 stopped watching cricket. I just wanted to play,” Ashwin told reporters at the press conference in Vizag. 

If the statistics of any cricketer are an important parameter to judge their skill, Ashwin’s performance for India in Tests, especially at home, still makes him the number one spinner in Virat Kohli’s side. 

Of his 350 wickets overall, he has scalped 203 of them at home, second-most after the legendary Anil Kumble. Yet his presence in the playing XI has always remained under a cloud of doubt because of his dismal performance outside the subcontinent. However, after a long lay-off, something that must have impressed every cricket lover is that Ashwin kept weaving spin magic that put the Proteas in deep trouble throughout their first innings in the Test. Of the seven wickets Ashwin scalped, those of Quinton de Kock and Aiden Markram went on show what a classy bowler he is. Those are the kind of wickets that an off-spinner dreams of taking day in and day out. 

While he was ignored time and again by the team management, Ashwin did his job silently and let his records speak in favour of him. He participated in the Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) and he captained one of the sides – Dindigul Lions. To improve his performance abroad, he joined the team of the English county Nottinghamshire and picked up 23 wickets, including an eight-wicket haul against Somerset. He scored runs with the bat too, reminding everyone of his all-round skills, hammering 197 runs in just three matches. 

As Ashwin writes a new essay in his already-illustrious career, one can well assume where he will end up if he continues his current form, provided the team management continues to have faith in the 32-year-old. 

Yet, there is not a shred of doubt that Ashwin is India’s numero uno in Test cricket among the other spinners. Along with Rohit Sharma, Ashwin’s comeback ensures that Virat Kohli’s side is just lucky to have the duo in order to stay at the top of the ICC Test Championship rankings as they gear up to face more uphill tasks ahead. Having said that, one hopes that the team management will be investing in Ashwin and making him feel secure after this gem of a performance. 

Ravichandran Ashwin has stamped his authority quite in style and it’s a delight to watch him perform like this which has guided India to yet another spectacular victory.

Saptak Ghosh

Saptak Ghosh is a Sports Management Professional, Writer, Solo-Traveller, History-buff and a Conservationist.

The views and opinions expressed in the article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Tilak Chronicle and TTC Media Pvt Ltd.

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