India in Australia 2015-16 January 5, 2016

'Ashwin is a thinking cricketer' - Dhoni

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Ashwin is an asset across formats - Dhoni

MS Dhoni has praised R Ashwin's evolution as a bowler, noting the numerous transitional hurdles Ashwin had to cross in his career. "He [Ashwin] is slightly different. He is a thinking cricketer," Dhoni said. "He thinks a lot about his bowling which is a positive. When he started, he started off really well and to some extent he slightly went down and that was the time when he was criticised a lot for his variations and everything.

"But you also have to realise that when you are new, not many people know about you. With the videos and everything, people tend to know more about you, gather more information about you, how you bowl, what your variations are."

Dhoni said the difficulties involved in adjusting to the workload of international cricket were often overlooked in analysing a player's career, adding that Ashwin's slump in form, back in 2013, was possibly a result of non-stop cricket. "One crucial thing we miss is when you are part of the domestic circuit you don't play throughout the year. And then when you become part of the Indian team you start playing 12 months of cricket.

"And for spinners, if you are playing all the formats, at times one of the reasons can be your fingers getting tired. I am not saying that is the reason. It could be the reason from playing four months or five months of cricket to all of a sudden you are playing 12 months of active cricket.

"We must also include the IPL where you keep playing more and more games. It was bound to happen, a transition phase was supposed to happen and I am glad he came out of it."

Dhoni said he had cautioned Ashwin that his variations would eventually become a convenient target when his form dipped. He spoke about his advice to Ashwin - typically layered with abstract numbers - and said Ashwin had helped cover up for his fast bowlers' failings on many occasions.

"I kept telling him that 'to me the only difference is, for example, if you are bowling all your variations in 2x4 area now you are bowling 4x6 ft area. That is the only thing lacking. Other than that, you don't have to worry about. It is bound to happen. Just focus on your bowling and you will be good.'

"He is not someone who has bowled after the 10 from 11th to 35th. I have used him in the first 10 and also from 40-45. He just makes my job slightly easy, especially for a consistent period of time when my fast bowlers have not done well. It is good to have him and I think he is a great asset to the side irrespective of the format."

Arun Venugopal is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • tezmanos on January 10, 2016, 20:56 GMT

    he should play really well in australia,i hope he does,hes tall,should get bounce,but i dont think the sub cont players put enough revolutions on the ball to turn it consistantly in ozzie,lyon probably putting must turn on the ball in world cricket at the moment,as much as i hate to say it...but my head tells me, ashwin is going to get belted

  • SACHINNRUPATUNGA on January 9, 2016, 8:21 GMT

    Ashwin is a very good thinking player as well as Anil Kumble and M.S.Dhoni, his calmness will achieve the bigger goal & records best of luck MSD & Ashwin.R

  • bsk05 on January 8, 2016, 10:15 GMT

    we need to see ashwin performance outside asia , doing in dust bowls are quite easy , he always did well in india pitches ,we just need to wait and see before praising him

  • TheLastJeed on January 7, 2016, 2:36 GMT

    He is the only bowler in the top ten in all 3 formats. not yasir shah or steyn or starc or boult. I believe he deserves some respect.

  • dunger.bob on January 6, 2016, 22:15 GMT

    I'm looking forward to seeing the 'new and improved' Ashwin in action. Off spinners traditionally struggle in Australia so to do any good he'll have to be at, or near, his best. If he brings his A-game he should do pretty well but don't expect him to take truck loads of wickets. Very few offies in the history of the game have managed to do that down here.

  • ThePieChucker on January 6, 2016, 17:27 GMT

    @Vamsy517: India does not have a great fast bowling attack in ODIs, but do not go overboard in calling Indian fast bowlers the worst. Mohammed Shami is part of the first choice XI, and he has a very strong record, averaging 24.89 for 87 wickets in 47 matches.

  • VettiPayyan on January 6, 2016, 15:01 GMT

    Inspite of all the flak he has received, its the CSK bowlers that have delivered more often than not, especially in the bowling!

  • A.Ak on January 6, 2016, 14:00 GMT

    Dhoni has been criticized for bringing CSK players to national side. Now as a matter of fact, they are the consistent performers in the current team.

  • smilingsenthil on January 6, 2016, 7:49 GMT

    @CHEGURAMANA, He is not talking about all rounders but just good fast bowlers like Steyn-Morkel, Bolt-Southee, Anderson-Broad etc. Each team has match winners in the fast bowling department but Indian fast bowlers like Umesh, Ishant, Mohit, Aaron etc are simply inconsistent and pathetic. So lack fitness while some lack brains. I think it is nothing but a captain's frustration because that is costing India matches.

  • rajrhagescoc on January 6, 2016, 7:05 GMT

    no denying the fact dhoni has to take huge compliment in ashwin's success.. but truth be told he was d main reason behind ashwin's form dip by askg him to bowl d defensive negative line which made ashwin do unorthodox things.

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