L‘affaire Ashwin — an avoidable fiasco

R. Ashwin...troubled times.  

The fiasco over R. Ashwin’s injury and all the speculation about his availability for the fourth Test — it continued till the morning of the Test — does not present Indian cricket in good light.

Look at the events that transpired on Wednesday. Virat Kohli announced Ashwin would not be a part of the team for the final Test here. “He is not 100%, we are all disappointed,” he said.

However, news from very reliable sources in the team-management trickled in soon. It said Ashwin suffering a relapse of the abdominal injury, as feared, was only a false alarm.

“It’s only a minor niggle. He should be all right and is certain to play,” the source said to The Hindu. And out of nowhere, Ashwin was in the list of 13 players short-listed for the match.

Ashwin had been bowling and batting in the nets here and it was assumed that he would play, even if it meant taking painkillers, in such an important game.

Coaches keen, but...

It is believed coach Ravi Shastri and bowling coach Bharat Arun were keen on Ashwin taking the field at Sydney and teaming up with Ravindra Jadeja.

Yet, Kohli has this obsession with 100% fitness and he might not have wanted to take a risk with Ashwin. Particularly since playing Ashwin, who was grappling with a groin strain, in the Southampton Test against England backfired.

The official reason given by the Indian team in the evening was that Ashwin failed a fitness test in the morning. After Ashwin could not get through, Kuldeep Yadav started bowling.

There was also the possibility of Ashwin himself pulling out of the game at the last minute — he did bowl in the morning ahead of the fourth Test — since he was not totally convinced about his fitness.

Or including and then leaving out Ashwin could have been a double bluff by the team management to catch the host unaware about the threat of Kuldeep.

Unfortunately for Ashwin, his injury concerns have surfaced at the worst possible time for India, both in England and now in Australia. India’s No. 1 spinner needs to get himself fit.

Yardstick for selection

The BCCI should not have Yo Yo Test as the only yardstick for India selection. Yo Yo is useful in telling us about stamina and lung power.

But what about the other areas of fitness. For instance, Jadeja came into this tour carrying a shoulder injury. And this was made known to the media only after the second Test at Perth in which he should have featured.

Ahead of a series, a complete and comprehensive fitness assessment has to be made, not just the Yo Yo test.

On matters of fitness, there needs to be greater transparency from the team-management

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Printable version | Apr 14, 2021 6:52:48 AM |

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