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I used to bowl 6 balls and then gasp for breath: R Ashwin reveals why he “contemplated retirement” between 2018-20

"I felt like people were not sensitive enough to my injuries," Ashwin said.

Saurabh Ganguly Editor

Updated - 21 December 2021 6:11 pm

  • Ashwin made a comeback in the Indian national side in limited-overs cricket at the T20 WC 2021.
  • Ashwin will next be seen in action in the Test matches against South Africa.

Arguably one of India’s greatest match-winners in red-ball cricket and someone who keeps on innovating his T20 game to fit into the balance of the dynamic format, veteran off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin in a sensational revelation has said that he contemplated retirement between 2018-20.

In his typical descriptive and elaborate statement, Ashwin gave an insight as to how he felt he was not backed enough when he was dealing with injuries. He added that he was looking for a shoulder lean on at a time when he would gasp for breath after bowling six deliveries but that shoulder wasn’t available.

The news might come as a surprise to many since Ashwin continues to be at the top of his game not only in Test match cricket, where he is simply outstanding but also in limited-overs where his consistent performances have helped him make a comeback in the national side.

The harder I tried, the farther it felt: Ashwin

“Between 2018 and 2020, I contemplated giving up the sport at various points. I thought, “I have put in a lot of effort, but it is not coming through.” The harder I tried, the farther it felt. Especially with athletic pubalgia and the patellar tendonitis – I used to bowl six balls and then I used to be gasping for breath. And there would be pain all over the place,” Ashwin said in an interaction with ESPNCricinfo.

“So you needed to make adjustments. When the knee pain got excruciating, the next ball I would probably jump less. When I jumped less, obviously the force needs to be produced through the core and the back and the shoulders, so the pubalgia would act up. So the third ball I would be extra side-on to try to use the hips. By the time I was done with six balls, I would be like, “I need a break here,” India’s third-highest wicket-taker in Test match cricket after Anil Kumble and Kapil Dev with 427 scalps further explained.

“I contemplated retirement for a lot of reasons. I felt like people were not sensitive enough to my injuries. I felt like a lot of people were backed, why not me? I have done no less. I have won a lot of games for the team, and I am not feeling backed. I don’t usually look for help, that somebody needs to back me, that somebody needs to cushion me or give me empathy. I felt I was not being able to be excellent and felt I needed a shoulder to lean on. It was not happening. I thought maybe I should try to find something else and be excellent at that,” the 35-year-old said also acknowledging the support of his wife and father.

Ashwin will next be seen in action in the Test matches against South Africa and despite not getting a single game across the four-Test matches in England earlier this year, he is sure to be in the XI with injuries to Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel.


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