It is the first step, says Ashwin on title triumph

Besides sharing his thoughts on the meteoric rise of MRC ‘A’, India international Ashwin spoke to reporters about Tamil Nadu’s struggles in red-ball cricket and the national team’s rescheduled Test against England in Birmingham in July.
It is the first step, says Ashwin on title triumph
Ravichandran Ashwin

CHENNAI: Soon after guiding MRC ‘A’ to its maiden Rajah of Palayampatti Shield on Friday, captain Ravichandran Ashwin emphasised that the 2021/22 First Division crown is just the beginning of what he hopes is a successful decade for the club. Besides sharing his thoughts on the meteoric rise of MRC ‘A’, India international Ashwin spoke to reporters about Tamil Nadu’s struggles in red-ball cricket and the national team’s rescheduled Test against England in Birmingham in July.

EXCERPTS

On going the distance with MRC ‘A’

• We have taken the first step. We are probably one on 10 at this point of time. With our team, there has been a lot of hard work. There have been a lot of disappointments [in the last few years]. We had a vision; we had a goal. Being a player who has been playing international cricket, I joined a team that got promoted to the First Division (in 2018). When it (Take Solutions) bought MRC ‘A’ (in 2015), I made the promise that I would join when the team gets promoted to the First Division. When we initially called up people to [join] our team, no one turned up. I personally used to call up people and find out [if they were available]. Even when they said ‘no’, I kept trying. For me, it has always been about how to create (make) a difference to this team. We had home ground issues, practice issues etc, but the guys we backed for some reason [got the job done]. I am extremely pleased that we have come through. Everything has been going well.

On what is next for newly-crowned champion MRC ‘A’

• The goal is to probably win more titles in the next 10 years. Winning titles do not happen overnight. There are areas where we need to work on; we were not exemplary in all departments [this season]. Unfortunately, we had a couple of injuries. Ideally, there must be a situation where we use professionals (guest players) according to the conditions. It should not be a must-play sort of a thing [with them]. In a championship side, the professionals do a lot of the job. Over a period of time, they must pass their knowledge [to the youngsters]. All these things are extremely important. They will happen only when we have a vision. Credit to Kedar (coach Guru Kedarnath), Cheena (senior player R Srinivasan) and D Vasu (who oversees teams owned by Take Solutions).

On Tamil Nadu’s poor show in red-ball cricket

• I would like to see First Division go back to the days I started playing. There was seriously good quality. I wish the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association extends the [First Division] matches to three or four days next year. In the white-ball game, Tamil Nadu has been doing superbly. But, if we have to revive the red-ball culture, First Division is the place to start.

On Tamil Nadu failing to assemble a potent pace-bowling attack for the Ranji Trophy

• If we are serious about playing good red-ball cricket, our fast bowling and our batting against fast bowling should definitely go up [a notch]. Our fast bowlers are struggling to find the right length and balance. We must have a camp for the fast bowlers soon. We must also be able to provide better wickets [that offer assistance to pacers].

On the upcoming Test against England

• I find myself in a very good frame of mind. I want to go there and take things as they come. I feel that I can contribute with the bat and bowl well. The purpose of playing these matches (he played the First Division semi-finals and final) is to shift from 20 overs to the red-ball format. As you grow older, you play more and you play smarter. I am trying to do that and I am enjoying my game. I am happy with the kind of cricket I am playing.

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