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'Ashwin should've been honoured with India captaincy 2 years ago when…': Gavaskar suggests ace off-spinner deserved more

Feb 21, 2024 12:34 PM IST

Gavaskar feels that two years back would have been the ideal time to honour R Ashwin with India Test captaincy.

India cricket legend Sunil Gavaskar had paid a hearty tribute to Ravichandran Ashwin on the occasion of completing 500 wickets, believing that the ace off-spinner should have been awarded captaincy of the Test team two years ago. Ashwin, on, Friday, became the fastest and only the second Indian bowler to reach the milestone of 500 wickets, joining Anil Kumble in this rarest of rare list when he dismissed England opener Zak Crawley in their first innings.

India's Ravichandran Ashwin(AP)
India's Ravichandran Ashwin(AP)

Gavaskar feels Ashwin's brilliance has always made him a captaincy material for India. He mentioned that two years back would have been the ideal time to bestow the honour on him. Over the last year, India have fielded several different teams, most prominently in 2021, when the Test squad was filled with senior players and the more established stars in England, while a second-string line-up comprising youngsters were in Sri Lanka for a limited-overs tour with Rahul Dravid overseeing proceedings. This has carried on ever since, which is why for Gavaskar, the idea of Ashwin as captain is exciting.

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"Congratulations to Ravichandran Ashwin on capturing his 500th Test wicket. What a tremendous cricketer he has been. One of the finest thinkers in the game and always willing to try something new and different, be it a run-up, delivery action and of course, deliveries to bamboozle the batter," Gavaskar wrote in his column for Mid-Day.

"He should have been honoured with the India captaincy a couple of years back when there were two India teams playing around the same time. Well done, Ashwin, and wish you many more wickets, newer deliveries and different actions in the future."

As India thumped England by 434 runs for their biggest victory in Test cricket, Ashwin's experience of the game was bittersweet. A few hours after he entered the 500-wicket-club, Ashwin had to leave Rajkot, withdraw from the squad and fly to Chennai due to a medical family emergency. BCCI vice-president revealed that he had to attain to his mother although no one mentioned anything else. But that Ashwin returned home and was back less than 48 hours speaks volumes about his character. Ashwin returned to bowl in the second innings and took 1/19 as England were bowled out for 122 – their 6th-lowest total against India.

The hindrance in Ashwin becoming captain

As Gavaskar mentioned, Ashwin's brain which occasionally works overtime, which gave him preference over many others among his peers to be considered for captaincy. But the fact that over the last few years Ashwin was not considered much for overseas Tests acted as a deterrent to his captaincy aspirations.

After Virat Kohli stepped down as India's Test captaincy after the South Africa Tests in early 2021, the board decided to crown Rohit Sharma as his successor in all three formats. Ashwin, meanwhile, has had a floundering limited-overs career in the last six years, and while he has been a constant feature in India's Test playing XI at home, overseas is where he struggles to cement his place.

Former India coach Ravi Shastri had revealed how during the series, he had to plead with Kohli to give Ashwin a game but the ex-captain didn't budge, showing his faith in his belief and more importantly, the conditions. Ashwin did not play a single Test of that series, which left the world of cricket divided.

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