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Ravichandran Ashwin: Who defines a good surface?

Ashwin attacks pitch-slamming pundits after third Test ends in two days; wants loose talk to stop and stresses on how English players have not complained about the strip

India`s Ravichandran Ashwin celebrates the wicket of England`s Jack Leach on Day One of the third Test at Ahmedabad recently. Pic/PTI

With the third Test match, played with pink ball under lights, concluding in two days, the pitch at the newly-inaugurated Narendra Modi Stadium has become a hot topic of discussion.

After India skipper Virat Kohli and limited-overs vice-captain Rohit Sharma defended the Motera pitch, Ravichandran Ashwin on Saturday went on the offensive when a British journalist asked whether it was a good Test match pitch. “I have a question back. What is a good cricket surface?”

The scribe replied: “A good contest between bat and ball.” 

‘We need to get over it’

Ashwin responded: “Yes, of course. The bowler wants to win the game. The batsman needs to bat well to get runs. No question about it. What makes a good surface? Who defines this? Seam on the first day and then bat well and then spin on the last two days? Come on! Who makes all these rules, we need to get over it and not talk about whatever picture you want to paint.

“If you’re asking if it is a good Test surface, I don’t see any of the players coming from England having an issue with the surface. They want to improve; they look like they want to have a contest. Is it the players and the people who are reporting back that want their players to not compete and complain about the pitches? We have never done that on any of the tours.” The conversation did not end there. The scribe followed up with another question: “Hoping for a similar surface in the next Test?”

“It depends on what you’re hoping for. We are hoping for a good cricket match,” said Ashwin. “Most people hope for a good cricket match,” the reporter remarked, to which Ashwin shot back: “Of course, that’s what you should be hoping for and not make this about the surface.”

It is clear that Ashwin’s series of cryptic tweets on Friday where he used words like “outbound marketing” and “selling of products” were targeted towards the pitch talk.  

The Indian offie, who became the second fasted to achieve the landmark of 400 Test wickets during the third Test, made it clear that his tweets were not in response to Yuvraj Singh’s tweet in which the former India all-rounder reckoned that Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh would have ended up with 1,000 and 800 wickets respectively had they played on pitches like Motera.

“I think people need to get the context of what’s happening here. There have been some people who have messaged me and said the match has finished in two days. What about all the three pink-ball Test matches we’ve played, everything’s ended within three days’ time. I do not know what to say because when somebody just throws an opinion out there about the surface, having played the game, unfortunately maybe they have not played the pink-ball Test matches, so they do not understand this facet of the game.

“My angst against the whole thing is the fact that when people say something there are so many of them who are watching the same picture but are not able to paint a different one compared to somebody who is driving and selling a certain case to us and this needs to stop,” Ashwin said.

“I do not know the reason behind why people sell certain things, but it’s clear. It’s just a perception of what happens. For me, I want to protect, at least I want to try and put it out there that people who know me or watch me talk, at least realise that without their knowledge they’re actually being hypnotised to believing what they’re buying,” he added.

Bowlers not given credit 

Ashwin made his disappointment known in cases when the pitch gets the credit if bowlers dominate a match. “With thoughts what happens is, you condition people to believing a certain thing or way. You watch a match, you watch India win a game. At the most, everyone is saying, ‘I’m happy India won the game, it’s a great feeling’. You don’t want people to go back home and say, ‘It’s the pitch that’s winning the game’. That’s what I don’t want people to do,” he concluded.

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