Having started preparations for the tour of Australia, Ravichandran Ashwin has set being in the best physical state as a priority. The off-spinner spoke on the sidelines of Tamil Nadu’s Ranji Trophy match against Madya Pradesh. Excerpts…
Your preparations for South Africa and England started early. How are you going about the Australia tour?
Most of the planning is in terms of what you have learned from previous experiences. It’s about trying to learn from what didn’t work last time and being prepared for it. The moment you land in that country you start working on it. For me, it’s not entirely about game time. I prefer the net time to get into the best possible shape.
What kind of specific acclimatisation do you focus on?
In Australia, from past experience, it’s more about remaining in the best possible physical state. And to an extent, getting the pace right as a spinner. Sometimes you can bowl too slow or fast. You have to adapt. The pitches there have changed. They are more batting friendly. But we wouldn’t know for sure. When we get there, conditions might favour the home side and rightly so.
We have seen batsmen leaving early to get acclimatised. Do bowlers also need to go there early?
For nine years I played all three formats which was like 12 months of the year. All of a sudden, over the last year, I have played only Test cricket and nothing else. So the game time is very less for me. You realise it only after four-five months because all of a sudden you are in that position. Whatever game time I get, I try and make use of. I came here to play Ranji Trophy and bowled 40 overs on a placid deck. It’s no comparison to Australia, but this is about bowling and finding rhythm. Any game time and I’m taking it happily.
How do you look at Australia’s batting sans Smith and Warner?
The way Australia have played over the last two years and when they toured India, I thought they batted particularly well, especially against spinners. They have improved and are probably trusting their defence more. I don’t expect it to be any different.
Is this India’s best chance to win in Australia?
If I say yes, it’s going to blow things out of proportion. We had chances in England and South Africa. We didn’t put them to bed. We could have done it. We are a good team. In Australia, until we bury those things and go out and show we are capable of it, it’s important to stay balanced and play good cricket.
India lost in South Africa & England. How do you take criticism as a team?
I don’t know what the leadership group feels about it. They decide how to go about it in the future, how they went about it and what they felt were the weak areas. I have enough on my plate to work on. I have my own batting and bowling to look at. I have also had my challenges with fitness. I haven’t had any conversation on this with any of them. Whoever be that leadership group, it’s important to respect how they are going about things. We need to respect how they want to take things forward.
Two years back your batting was on a high. You scored two good centuries.
So have the criticisms been fair?
To call it fair or unfair is not something I have bothered to think about. I made some valuable contributions, but who am I to beat around the bush! Yes, I could have converted and made a match-winning score in Cape Town where we pulled the game to a certain extent. I could have won those games. Rather than saying it’s unfair, I would like to look at it this way.