Former India cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar polarised opinions when he said Ravichandran Ashwin cannot be called as one of the greats of the game yet and in his list, he doesn’t make the cut. That led to an explanation from Manjrekar regarding what he considers as the criteria for inclusion in all-time list when his comments led to a fierce debate.
Batting legend VVS Laxman though has no doubts in calling Ashwin as of the greats of the game considering his match-winning performances both at home and in away conditions. The offspinner has an enviable record having taken 409 wickets in 78 Tests at an average of 24.69 including 30 five-wicket hauls as well.
“…R Ashwin is a top-class off-spinner. There is no doubt he is one of the greats of the game," Ashwin was quoted as saying by India Today. “The way in which he has consistently won matches for India, not only but home, in the recent tour of Australia, is an example of his ability overseas. The way he restricted the run flow of the Australian batsmen (during 2020-21 Test series), the way he set Steve Smith out and got him out quite consistently shows he is high on confidence."
With India set to take on New Zealand in the ICC World Test Championship final from June 18 onwards, Laxman has advised Virat Kohli to play foth Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja in the marquee clash.
“I will definitely play both the spinners because what Ravindra Jadeja has shown in the recent past is he is not just a batsman who can play cameos but he can play big knocks, especially under pressure. I still remember the partnership he had with Ajinkya Rahane when the chips were down in Melbourne. Unfortunately, he got injured after that," Laxman said.
“I think Ravindra Jadeja will perform well as a batsman at No. 7 and being a left-hander, it will give the edge in the Indian batting line-up," he added.
Jadeja has 220 wickets from 51 Tests at 24.32 including nine five-wicket hauls and Laxman reckons the 32-year-old has made quite a progress as a bowler.
“As far as the bowling is concerned, it’s not just about the footmarks, Jadeja has become a versatile bowler, he has improved as a bowler, he can beat the batsman on the first day of the Test, he has improved in that aspect," he said.