‘He’ll improve even more’: Ravichandran Ashwin backs Rishabh Pant amid criticism

Ravichandran Ashwin has urged the fans and India’s cricket community as a whole to just pause and reflect.

Reflect on how they deal with accusations of preparing tailor-made pitches or how, instead of celebrating a talent like Rishabh Pant, efforts are made to find shortcomings in his game.

Think again, is what Ashwin is telling the “community” as a whole.

Just like a man in complete control of his craft, his carefully chosen words not only add a fresh perspective but also invoke a healthy academic debate.

“Look, it is us who are getting bothered by all this,” Ashwin said when asked if it’s high time that England and Australian teams acknowledge their lack of skills in countering quality spin bowling on tracks offering turn.

“I mean everybody is entitled an opinion, whoever is giving their opinion are totally well within their rights to give their own opinion. I think, it is us who are reading into it and seeing if it is working or not.”

“…so we as a cricketing fraternity or as a country, dealing with such sort of accusations, need to get a little better. We must just hold pride in saying how we are playing good cricket,” said the man, who is six short of 400 Test wickets.

EXPLAINED | Why England can’t blame Chepauk pitch for Test loss

Ashwin said that even the Indian team might have an opinion about pitches that it is offered but neither the players nor the country’s former stalwarts raise questions about seaming tracks in overseas condition.

“I am completely fine with how they (English pundits) have their opinions, because we will also have our opinions reserved when we tour abroad but we don’t complain or crib, we just get on with it,” said Ashwin.

“I have never seen any of our greats — be it our coach Ravi Shastri or Sunil Gavaskar, they have been on lots of tours, talk about pitches having a lot of grass or all those things,” Ashwin didn’t name any England great but it wasn’t difficult to guess that he was talking about former England skipper Michael Vaughan.

Respect opinions but also learn to deflect them is Ashwin’s mantra.

“I think it’s more of mentality, when people come out with such opinions we should respect them but I think we should be able to magnanimously deflect them away from what they are saying.”

In India, Ashwin says, people’s opinions are at times laced with unwarranted advice and that’s precisely what happened during the five long years when he wasn’t getting expected results with the bat.

“The problem in India is that we have a lot of people with varied opinions but that at times translates into advice, without anyone even trying to put in thought as to how the player thinks and how one needs help.

“With me, I needed some confirmation and I got that from the batting coach (Vikram Rathour).”

READ | Turn alone didn’t give me wickets, pace and guile did: Ashwin

During various media interactions, Ashwin has made it clear how highly he rates Rishabh Pant, a man who in his short time with the national team, has managed to polarise opinions.

“Okay, let me say this and I never thought I would say this. About two months back, there was a cricketer called Cameron Green, who made his debut for Australia. Even before he made his debut, everybody said that he was the ‘Next Big Thing’.

“I think he got 150 runs in the entire series (vs India) and didn’t get a wicket, but how much he was rated and built up (hyped) made me reflect how we as a community treat our cricketers. It gave me a massive perspective.

But Ashwin still is unable to understand why people start nitpicking those who have reached a stage.

“They play for the country and at times, it feels you know that we are searching as to what’s wrong with them. Rishabh Pant was always going to be a good cricketer and was always going to improve.

“Only if we back them in such a way that we want them to improve, they will improve faster,” Ashwin said.

It’s not Pant who needs to change, but all those who judge him.

“…if we are going to find loopholes and faults, the cricketers are going to take that much longer. I think it’s more of a mindset issue for us and we should embrace how good a cricketer he is.

“We tend to see a lot of negatives. If we see a lot more positives, we will see a lot more champion cricketers.”

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