Advices of the wrong kind and a defensive attitude have gone against the talented spinner from Chennai, R Ashwin, said former Indian player Maninder Singh.
Ashwin was brought into the Indian side as a match-winning prospect, and he did perfect justice to his selection by being the player to pick up 100 Test wickets in the shortest period, since the 80 years of Indian cricket. He is also a Polly Umrigar Awardee, the highest award the BCCI hands out to a current player.
"For me, Ashwin is a match-winner. He can win you matches whether they are Test matches or ODIs or T20s," Maninder told ESPNcricinfo. "But everything has gone haywire with him. I don't know what the bowling coach has been doing with him, and what the main coach and captain have been doing with him. If I was around, I would not have allowed that so far that he had to change his action.
"He has been trying so many variations. It generally happens that when you try too many things then you lose your originality and that is what is happening, and that is the worry for me.
Ashwin has, in fact, tried too many variations to his bowling action. The most recent one was in the match against Bangladesh in Fatullah which took everyone by surprise. He did bowl his carom ball a couple of times but was mostly keen on sharp spin, if not the illusional one. The 27-year-old has thrown away the role of primary spinner in the team to Ravinder Jadeja and lost the urge to attack, opines Maninder.
"Someone has got to tell him that you were picked in the Indian side because you showed that intent that you wanted to get wickets in the IPL, in 20-overs games," he added. "Then you come into a Test match and after the Australia series [last year], I read somewhere, he said 'my role was to restrict'. Now who has given him that idea? It's the captain.
"So I think he is not being handled properly. Somebody who came into the Indian side because he had the capability and the urge to take wickets, he was eager to take wickets in 20-overs cricket, becomes defensive in Test cricket where you are supposed to take wickets ... Something is going wrong somewhere, someone is giving him the wrong advice."
Although, Joey Dawes, the current bowling coach of India, has been working hard with the bowlers, Maninder was of the opinion that BCCI should be smart in their choice of a bowling coach they pick after Dawes. It is widely said that Indian bowling attack was comfortable with the likes of Venkatesh Prasad or even Eric Simons in the past.
"The BCCI has to wake up and get a proper bowling coach who can assist our bowlers," Maninder said. "It's not only Ashwin, Jadeja, you know he has got his limitations but he is real [talent] himself as well. You've got to have a proper guide for these kids, who can tell them what is right and what is not."