R Ashwin conceded that he had ‘lost the joy of playing’ cricket after being dropped from India’s limited-overs teams and suffering injuries that hampered his Test performances.
Ashwin last played white-ball cricket for India in 2017. He also missed Tests in England and Australia with injuries in 2018-19. Ashwin said he could not even watch the game on TV during that phase, but stressed he has gotten over it now.
“Whatever I achieved I never expected when I started playing. I enjoy playing day in, day out," he told Mumbai Mirror. “But I felt somewhere in my career, because of the white ball snub and injuries, I had lost the joy of playing the game, which was very very dangerous for me. I could not watch the game on TV. That was something I did not enjoy. Thankfully I have gotten over it. I took the help of people and I have gotten over it. I am extremely happy, wherever there is a game and an opportunity to deliver, even for a club game, I would go with full commitment and willingness. If I keep my joy intact, there is no limit to what I can achieve."
Ashwin picked up 3 for 28 in 10 overs in his last ODI, in the West Indies in July 2017. Since then, he has been left out for wrist spinners, but the off-spinner is not giving up on his white-ball ambitions.
“I do want to represent India, I have been doing it over the years, successfully at it. If you look at my T20 numbers and ODI number, they are no mean achievements," he said. “The hopes are still alive, but I take different approach from others. I don’t go and say I want to play, I don’t give interview… Mine is more towards the action. In my last one and half and two years, my career has been hampered by injuries. For me it is putting things right and getting my body ready. Because I know I am good. So, it is only a matter of time before anything came my way.
“I traveled a journey ever since, a journey of not being able to represent the country, a journey of being snubbed or not being picked. It is no mean task, you have to deal with it personally. You then have to answer to people who are asking you questions. At the same time, you have to keep your dreams alive. It is not easy. That journey has been quite challenging. I have learnt to live and deal with it."
Ashwin has been traded from Kings XI Punjab to Delhi Capitals for IPL 2020, after leading the former franchise in the previous two seasons. Punjab couldn’t qualify for the play-offs in either season, and Ashwin was ready to take responsibility.
“My stint at Kings XI was fantastic to say the least. The experience enriched me in every possible way," he said. “I was given the role of captaincy, that was new boundaries I explored. Within my purview I thought I did a fair job, if not a very good job, but these decisions were not mine entirely. There are other factors, the owners did feel I haven’t delivered which is true. Because I could not take the team through to the play-offs in both the seasons. You can give excuses why we could not do that, but I am someone who take it under my chin and admit that ‘yes I couldn’t deliver.’ The trade was more initiated rather my doing. I look at Delhi as new boundaries and enable the team to achieve something great. From my side, I will try to come good in the IPL."
Ashwin said the T20 World Cup next year in Australia will be a ‘realistic goal’ as teams are always in need of experience. He also said notions that he has become only a home-Test bowler, after being dropped from the XI in the tour of West Indies, are overstated.
“I feel it is a little overstated. Life is such that there would always be detractors who would say I could have achieved this or that," he said. “There are always going to be new things to be looked forward to. But in all honesty, I feel over the last one or two years, barring my injuries, wherever I played my performances as international spinners have gone up at different venues. This is my thought process, I don’t want others to agree with me. Performing at a venue on a given day is definitely not in your hands alone. You need to be lucky, decisions have to go your way, catches need to be taken… all these things are better if I explain them lesser. But where I stand right now, I am actually not bothered about these things. I feel I am at the top of my game with the ball and I am working on my batting."