409 wickets in 78 matches at an average of 24.69, including 30 five-wicket hauls in an innings and seven 10-wicket hauls in a Test match. These aren’t just random numbers but the Test record of Team India’s fourth-highest wicket-taker currently, R Ashwin.
The senior India off-spinner is regarded as not only one of the best spinners in India but also in the world. In the list of highest wicket-takers in the history of Test cricket, Ashwin is the fifth most successful spinner currently. In India, he’s only trumped by Kapil Dev, Anil Kumble, and Harbhajan Singh.
Despite possessing such stellar numbers, Ashwin does not make the cut as an all-time great for former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar. While speaking on a show on ESPNCricinfo, Manjrekar said that the reason behind his decision is the fact that Ashwin does not have the numbers in SENA countries – South Africa, England, New Zealand, and Australia – to show for it.
The cricketer-turned-commentator also added that Ashwin’s colleague Ravindra Jadeja has often been at par with the Tamil Nadu off-spinner.
“When people start talking about him as being one of the all-time greats of the game then I have a few problems. One basic problem I have with Ashwin is that when you look at SENA countries, Ashwin doesn’t have a single five-wicket haul there. And the other thing when you talk about him running through sides on Indian pitches that are suited to his kind of bowling is that in the last four years, Jadeja has matched him with wicket-taking abilities. Then, interestingly, in the last series against England, Axar Patel got more wickets than Ashwin on similar pitches. So that is my problem with accepting Ashwin as a real all-time great,” explained Manjrekar.
Ashwin is currently world No.2 in the ICC Test rankings for bowlers. He is only nine wickets away from surpassing Harbhajan Singh, who is India’s third-highest wicket-taker currently and is only 26 wickets away from displacing the legendary Kapil Dev from the second position in the list.