The year 2016 has been nothing short of remarkable for Ravichandran Ashwin. He has achieved many unimaginable records in the last few months and to cap it all, he was fittingly declared the ICC Cricketer of the year, as well as the ICC Test cricketer of the year on 21 December. Ashwin has a transparent blueprint to make his impact on the game – by taking wickets frequently. But the Tamil Nadu cricketer is currently the No 1 Test all-rounder in the world as well, so it can be said that he has established a pattern for himself by contributing to the team’s success with both the bat and ball.
Ashwin's numbers really back the statement. India have not gained another Kapil Dev yet, but in Ashwin, they have earned a bowler like Anil Kumble who can take wickets at will and a stylish batsman like VVS Laxman who always tries to give his best when the chips are down. The innings that Ashwin played against England in the third Test at Mohali can be considered an an example of this. And that’s what you demand from a player when he represents a country at the international level. Ravichandran Ashwin’s transformation from a handy lower-order batsman to a reliable No 6 batsman has been a smooth ride.
It is his wickets that have helped him earn his reputation and they will continue to do so, but in the last one year or so, people have started taking Ashwin more seriously as a batsman as well. It is still early to say that Ravichandran Ashwin is a great all-rounder. However, he is a good all-rounder, and to become great from good, he has to score runs and take wickets in overseas conditions.
However, let’s see the bigger picture with the help of the numbers which prove that Ravichandran Ashwin deserves to win the ICC Cricketer of the year as well as ICC Test Cricketer of the year award for 2016.
Ravichandran Ashwin picked up 48 wickets during the voting period from 14 September 2015 to 20 September 2016 which is the fifth most by any bowler during that period in Tests. Only four bowlers are ahead of him in that list and all those bowlers have played more Tests than Ashwin during that period. However, Ashwin’s average of 15.39 was the best among all the bowlers who had taken at least 30 wickets during the period. But the most striking thing about Ashwin’s magical run was his strike rate. His bowling strike rate of 36.9 was the second best among all the bowlers who had picked up minimum 20 wickets during the period. Mitchell Starc’s strike rate of 31.3 was the best during the period in the above mentioned condition.
When people admire a bowler for his outstanding skills and numbers, it’s also critical to see that how many wickets he has taken per Test match in his career. Ravichandran Ashwin picked up six wickets per Test during the above mentioned voting period, which is the second best for any bowler who had taken minimum 30 wickets. Mitchell Starc once again topped the table by taking 6.17 (nearly 6) wickets per Test during the above mentioned period. It is toilsome for a batsman to make at least fifty runs in every Test, and the same goes for bowlers to take five wickets in every Test. It is only the truly great ones who have managed to do it, and Ravichandran Ashwin has. This is also why he has been named in ICC Test team of the year along with Mitchell Starc and Rangana Herath who are present in the list below.
When a batsman is in form, he likes to make as many runs as possible for his team, and a bowler also wants to do the same by taking as many wickets as possible for the team during his purple patch. Ravichandran Ashwin took 38.40 percent of team India’s wickets from 14 September 2015 to 20 September 2016 in Tests, which is the most by any bowler for any team among bowlers who had taken at least 20 wickets for their respective teams during that period. Mitchell Starc is at the next position in the list, but he is way behind with about 33.94 percent of Australia’s wickets during that period. These numbers really prove that Ashwin is a champion bowler, and this is why during this period India did not lose a single Test.
While Ashwin is in ICC’s Test team of the year due to his stupendous bowling performance, his batting numbers during the above mentioned period are better than any handy lower-order batsman in Tests. He scored 336 runs at an average of 42.00 during that period, which is the third most by any Indian batsman. He also scored two centuries. In fact, there are only three players who had scored more than 300 runs and taken more than 30 wickets in Tests from 14 September, 2015 to 20 September, 2016. Ashwin’s difference in batting and bowling average during that period in Tests was 26.66, which is an indication of why he already is a good all-rounder and can become a great all-rounder.
It is not easy for any player to perform well in all the three formats of the game consistently. However, Ashwin is one of the players who has done it in the period mentioned. He took 78 wickets during that period in international cricket, which is the most by any bowler. Apart from Tests, he took 27 wickets in T20Is during the period, which is the joint most by any bowler. However, he did not play many ODIs during the above mentioned period and had only three wickets from three ODIs.
When a player performs well in a match and throughout the series, he is rewarded with a Man of the Match award and Man of the Series award respectively. So far in his Test career, Ashwin has won seven Man of the Series awards, which is the most by any Indian player in Tests. India played two Test series between 14 September, 2015 and 20 September, 2016 – against South Africa and West Indies. India won both the series and Ashwin was Man of the Series in both. Overall, Ashwin won three Man of the Series awards during the period, which is the most by any player in international cricket.
The statistics conveniently substantiate that Ashwin genuinely deserves both the awards that he won. Ravichandran Ashwin is clearly at the top of his game and to remain at this position for a long time, he needs to cross a path that will automatically earn him the stature of great from good.
Updated Date: Dec 23, 2016 10:27:28 IST