2021 has been one of the best years of Ravichandran Ashwin’s career. Riding on the back of his stellar Test performance, he made a much-awaited comeback to India’s limited-overs side. Now, the staggering year has been capped with Ashwin getting nominated for the Test Player of the Year award.
ICC declares fab-4 list for Test match heroes
International Cricket Council (ICC) has announced the list of players and teams to be awarded for their consistent performance all through the year. In the Individual category, the Test Player of the year award is reserved for those who have outshined others in the calendar year.
Ashwin is competing with Root, Jamieson and Karunaratne
Ravichandran has been selected as one of the four players who are eligible for this award. Now, a coveted panel will be measuring how Ashwin’s performance impacted the test arena when it is compared to similar showdowns by English captain Joe Root, New Zealand pacer Kylie Jamieson, and Sri Lankan opener Dimuth Karunaratne.
Confirming Ashwin’s presence, a press release by ICC declared, “One of India’s greatest match-winners in the longest format, R Ashwin again asserted his authority as one of the world’s finest spinners in 2021. Apart from his wizardry with the ball, Ashwin also made invaluable contributions with the bat,”
The winner of the award will be announced on January 24, 2022.
Ashwin can single-handedly win matches for India
Ravichandran has been the backbone of the Indian Test team after Harbhajan Singh’s ousting due to his poor performance. Though he emerged onto the scene as a T20 specialist, Ashwin was quick to adapt to the rigorousness of Test matches. 2021 emerged as a game-changer for Ashwin. In 2021, he established himself as a reliable bowling all-rounder.
Successful against both Ashes rivals
Ashwin’s 2021 started with a bang in Sydney Test against Australia. His first appearance was marked more for his batting, rather than bowling. In spite of being a lower-order batsman; who was habituated to facing spinners on dry Indian wickets, Ashwin did not allow the Australian pace attack to grab his wicket. In a match-saving effort, he scored 39 not out of 128 deliveries and helped India consolidate its 1-1 series scoreline. Later, India went on to register a historic series victory with a team composed mainly of reserve players.
When England toured India for a full-fledged 4-test match series in February-March 2021, Ashwin came off as India’s kingpin. On average, he took 4-wickets per innings in a series and ended up with 32 wickets from 4-matches. Moreover, he also contributed immensely with the bat and scored a total of 189-runs; which included a quick 106 on a dicey Chennai wicket. Ashwin was adjudged man-of-the-series for this.
Staggering performances against Kane Williamson led side
In the World Test Championship final against New Zealand, Ashwin returned with the figure of 45/4, averaging 11.25 on a seam-friendly wicket. He also scored a quick-fire 22 in the first innings. Later, for reason still unknown to many, Ashwin was kept out of the fore by Indian team management for India’s test matches against England. However, he was later selected in playing XI of India’s T20 world-cup team.
At the end of the year, Ashwin proved why he is highly regarded among spectators as well as experts. Against a strong Kiwi team led by Kane Williamson, Ashwin grabbed a total of 14 wickets with an average of 11.36. During the series, Ashwin surpassed Harbhajan’s record of having the highest test wickets as an off-spinner. Moreover, he also scored 70 runs with a strike rate of over 60.
Ashwin’s all-round show makes him a top contender
For the year 2021, Ashwin is currently averaging 28.08 with the bat and 16.23 with the bat. The 12 point gap between both averages is good enough to supplant him as a credible all-rounder.
Comparing Ashwin’s 2021 with other contenders, only Joe Root offers a credible challenge to him. One unfortunate fact going against Joe Root is that his third-highest run-tally in history did not translate much into match-winning performances. Same is the case with Karunaratne.
Similarly, Jamieson’s total tally of 5-tests and poor bowling average (compared to Ashwin) does not look good enough to sustain him in the race. The jury is still out and we are hoping Ashwin gets the due for his stellar 2021.