Indian cricketer Ravichandran Ashwin has opened up about his knee injury during the Bangladesh Test series last year, shedding light on a challenging period in his career.
In an interview with the Indian Express, conducted a week after the Indian team management’s decision to exclude him from the World Test Championship (WTC) final against Australia, Ashwin revealed that he contemplated retirement less than a year ago due to his injury.
Despite his impressive record of 474 Test wickets, placing him among the top 10 in the world, and being ranked as the No. 1 ICC Test bowler, Ashwin found himself dropped from the final XI to make room for an additional seamer against Australia.
Although the loss in the final was disappointing, it was not the primary factor that led Ashwin to contemplate his future as a professional cricketer. Instead, it was his knee injury and the need to make adjustments to his bowling action that made him question the longevity of his career.
Ashwin expressed that he is confidential not only in his statistical achievements but also in his ability to consistently reinvent himself as a player. He acknowledged that insecurity often plagues cricketers as they age and gain experience. Recognizing this, Ashwin decided to change his bowling action to alleviate the strain on his knee.
During the Bangladesh Test series, Ashwin’s knee started swelling by the second match, prompting him to seriously consider altering his bowling action.
Although he initially deemed the idea “stupid and ridiculous,” he sought treatment and worked on his new action at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bangalore before the opening Test of the Australia series in Nagpur.
Ashwin recalled the process, stating:
“I changed my action, and my knee pain went away. I practiced for three to four days in Nagpur without having played a game with that action at all. On the first day of the Test, I didn’t even feel like a bowler for three to four overs, but I was able to get on with it because of the awareness I have.”
Despite the challenges and uncertainties he faced, Ashwin expressed gratitude in being named the Player of the Series against Australia, considering it one of the best series performances of his career in the past four to five years.
He acknowledged that changing his action and putting his career at stake presented a significant personal and professional challenge. Ashwin also mentioned the tendency for individuals to shy away from change and fear failure, emphasizing that taking such risks was essential for growth and personal fulfillment.
Ashwin’s candid revelations provide a glimpse into the mental and physical hurdles faced by professional athletes. As Ashwin came back from the tiring series in Bangladesh, he mentioned what went through his mind:
“When I came back from Bangladesh, I told my wife that the Australia series could become my last series. I used to have some knee issues. I told I am going to change my action because it really got a lot of momentum and with that when I was landing, my knee was buckling a little bit.
I hadn’t done enough workload because of the T20 World Cup but I was not just not happy with the way the ball was coming, it was just scrambling a little bit here.”
As Ashwin continues to make valuable contributions to Indian cricket, fans can appreciate his journey and the courage it takes to confront and overcome obstacles in pursuit of excellence.