India news February 21, 2015

Ashwin needs more chances overseas - Kumble

Former India captain Anil Kumble has said that he is reminded of himself when he sees R Ashwin play, and has called for the offspinner to be given more chances to play away from home.

"As far as attitude on the field (goes), I sometimes see Ashwin and see myself in him sometimes, when he's bowling, batting," Kumble said in Melbourne a day before India's World Cup match against South Africa, during which he will be inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame.

"He's a better batsman than me, that's for sure. But I can see that grit, I can see the determination, I can see that he wants to just hang around and then do it for the team, so I see a lot of me in Ashwin."

Ashwin has had to compete with Ravindra Jadeja for the sole spinner's spot in the XI on India's recent overseas tours, all of which have been outside Asia. Jadeja was preferred after Ashwin failed to pick a wicket in the Johannesburg Test against South Africa in December 2013. The left-arm spinner picked up six wickets in the second Test in Durban, and played both following Tests in New Zealand ahead of Ashwin. Jadeja also figured in four of the five Tests in England last year, against Ashwin's two. Jadeja missed the Australia Tests with a shoulder injury, and Ashwin was chosen for three of them, but not before legspinner Karn Sharma was given a debut ahead of him in the first Test in Adelaide.

Ashwin has a superb record at home, averaging 24.12 for 95 wickets from 15 Tests. His away record is poor, though, with his 24 wickets from nine Tests coming at 56.58. Kumble said that unless Ashwin played more overseas Tests, there was no way he could improve his skills outside India.

"I think he's a fantastic cricketer, (and) has achieved a lot in a short span. Of course there have been some question marks, like how I had question marks when I played outside India. Same thing is there with Ashwin as well. But he can only get better if he starts playing outside of India. If he doesn't play outside India, he'll never get better. So I certainly see Ashwin as someone who I believe has everything to be a fantastic cricketer for India."

Kumble said that India should pick adaptable bowlers who were successful in India if they wanted to bowl out the opposition twice overseas. "I feel that we have good spinners, like I said they need to be given opportunities. When we travel all we get to hear is that we do not have spinners, we do not have bowlers. If you want to take 20 wickets, play the same guys who get you 20 wickets in India. Only if they play will you find out whether they will take 20 wickets or not.

"You should pick your four best bowlers if you want to play four. When you pick batsmen you do not choose on the basis that he cannot play outside India, or he cannot play on a fast wicket, or on a turning track. You pick on the belief that they can adjust. You do not choose a batsman according to the wicket. You should not do that for a bowler as well. You should choose someone who will adapt. And that will give him confidence. It is all about confidence in this game."

Abhishek Purohit is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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