R Ashwin is certainly one of the best spinners in the modern-era, and his stats speak for himself. The offie has 377 wickets in just 74 matches, and yet he is compared to Nathan Lyon — who has 399 in 100 matches. This constant comparing doesn’t bother Ashwin now, but there was a time in his career, when it did.
Speaking to the New Indian Express, he said, “I don’t know if it’s justified. Everybody walks their journey and it’s mine. My belief is that there will always be someone who will be competing with you. That’s life. I accepted this at a young age. For me, the competitions have got the best out of me. I have no complaints. I feel whatever I have left ahead of me will also be on the same lines. So I have decided to play every Test like my first. If I can’t be excellent, I should just hang my head down and move on. That’s the way I played my cricket, it won’t be any different in future.”
He went on to say, “There has been a lot of noise about how I am bowling and pitting me against someone like Nathan Lyon. During the previous tour in Adelaide, I picked up six wickets and kept on bowling despite a tear in the abdomen. After the match, there was a comparison between us with suggestions of how well Lyon bowled. I felt it was extremely insensitive towards a good performance. That was the lowest I ever felt in my life after Southampton (2018). I feel I have been constantly put under the microscope. I did take it upon myself personally. So rather than me competing against Lyon, I thought I must be competing against Smith.
“Lyon is a lovely bowler and I have respect for him. But my focus was on something else. There were records that Smith had never got out to spinners in Australia. I wanted to turn that around. I am entitled to think I am probably the best in the world. I wanted to think on those lines. I thought ‘who is the best in the series?’ I can’t compete with Virat Kohli so I decided to compete against Smith. A lot of people were talking about who will dismiss Smith. But, nobody even gave me a chance. Then, I made sure that people spoke about me at the end of the series.”