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Off-the-field ‘doosra’: Ashwin lashes out at pitch critics

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Ahmedabad, Feb 27, 2021-
India off-spinner R Ashwin’s media interaction here turned a bit bitter at one point after an English journalist asked him about the pitch and whether the cricketer thought the pitch for the third Test was good.

Ashwin called on people to stop buying the narrative of pitches that help turn from the first day not being good, from players and media abroad.

“What is a good cricket surface? The bowler was in the game. The batsman needs to bat well to get runs. There is absolutely no question about it. What makes a good surface? Who defines this? ‘Seam on the first day. Bat well. Spin on the last two days’ — who makes these rules? Come on, we should get over it and not create a scene over it,” he responded to the English journalist.

On being asked by the same journalist what he expected in the next match, Ashwin asked the question back.

The journalist responded, “A good cricket match.”

Ashwin then said, “That is what you should be hoping for and not the surface.”

The India off-spinner reached the 400-wicket mark in the third Test which was finished in two days. Some former players like Yuvraj Singh raised questions over the pitch, although most players fell to straight deliveries.

Seeing criticism of the pitch, Ashwin wrote a sort of a cryptic tweet on Friday, “Products are sold using various marketing strategies and that is an accepted practice! We now live in an era where ideas are also being sold to us and it’s a classic example of “outbound marketing”, however I would like to add that buying ideas being sold to us is like telling us “you can’t think on your own” and here we will teach you how to think and also help you think the way we want you to think…”

The tweet got retweeted multiple times with many unable to understand what it meant.

“I felt people didn’t understand what I meant. It is very, very simple. I always wanted to talk about it at some stage. But I thought it was very, very pertinent,” Ashwin explained on Saturday.

“At least [with] products at the most you can go wrong and find out after you buy them whether they are bad or good. With respect to thoughts being put across and planted across to people, I find it extremely hilarious and heinous to a point where you have a thought process and you want everybody to follow that and think that [way], make it a conditioning,” he explained his tweet from Friday lashing out at those who have been questioning the surface.

“Because you condition people to believing in a certain way. At most, [some] people understand and say India won the match and they go home happy. But you know what [other] people do. They go back home and say India is not winning the game yaar. It is the pitch that is winning the game yaar. That is not what I want people to do. This is conditioning. And it is happening for a long, long time. When are we going to wake up to it? People know what they must buy,” the 34-year-old off-spinner said.

“With respect to agenda driven thoughts — this is exactly what my tweets meant. Some of us tend to buy the stuff that people sell. For me, I want to protect or at least I want to put it there that people who know me or watching me talk at least realise that without their knowledge, they are being hypnotised into believing what they are buying.”

Yuvraj Singh on Friday had questioned the pitch and tweeted, “finished in 2 days. Not sure if that’s good for test cricket !If @anilkumble1074 and @harbhajan_singh bowled on these kinds of wickets they would be sitting on a thousand and 800? (emoticon: thinking face) However, congratulations to (emoticon: Flag of India) @akshar2026 what a spell! congratulations @ashwinravi99 @ImIshant.”

Ashwin, however, did not criticise or question Yuvraj on his tweet.

“The reason behind my tweets was not in context to anything in particular. And when I read Yuvi pa’s tweet, I actually didn’t get affected at all to be honest. I didn’t feel like he was telling us anything or trying to suggest anything. It really went as a plain tweet saying these people (Harbhajan, Kumble) were good. For me the state of mind I am in right now, I didn’t find it to be anything wrong and agenda driven. I have utmost respect for him,” said Ashwin.

“I am actually not that disturbed from things being taken away from the context because that is what has been happening for the last decade if not more…

“The talk around the surface is getting out of hand. Why would you talk about the surface and sell that to us time in and time out. Is there any instance when the surface has been spoken about when we have played in any other country. I find it very, very funny that when they speak about the surface, it immediately gets noted in all over in our press. That is the issue here. There have been instances when we have gone to New Zealand, both Tests have got over within five days. Total five days. Nobody noted it. I don’t think we should indulge in such thoughts and promote such thoughts.

“My angst is that people are not able to paint a different picture from someone who is driving and selling a case. This needs to stop.” (Agency)

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