Just happened to watch Ashwin bowl today morning against the West Indies. Probably, I think this is the first time I have watched at some length his Test Match bowling skills. I have to admit I am terribly, terribly impressed with this lad. With Pragyan Ojha for company, I think this duo can do wonders for the dying art of Spin Bowling in India.
As a Spinner myself, I always appreciated quality spin bowling. In spite of all the animosity against the Australians and Pakistanis, I loved watching every ball of Shane Warne. I also enjoyed watching Saqlain Mustaq of Pakistan deliver his wonderful off-spinners, floaters and what not. When it came to Indian spinners, I was left to watching Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble for the last 10 years or so. Harbhajan had all the qualities to become a quality spinner like flight, turn, bounce in the first 5 years of his career and slowly with the intrusion of one-dayers and T20s he completely lost his wares. Coupled with the problems in his bowling action, the decline was drastic. Somehow, he managed to hang around in the Indian team over the last 2 years due to his connections rather than for his ability, is my humble opinion. Anil Kumble on the other hand is not a great spinner of the ball but the sheer accuracy and persistency made him successful.
One other off-spinner who would have really made it big but didn't was Romesh Powar. He had the old world charm in his bowling with his laid-back attitude. He had very good flight, bounce and turn but I think he lost because of the famous politics in Indian Cricket, though he being from Mumbai. Sairaj Bahutule was tried for sometime and I guess that was a practical joke played on all of us by the selectors. Piyush Chawla has the ability to spin but not sure if he has the ability to out-wit his batsmen.
Coming back to the present, Ashwin is real treat to watch. He mixes his deliveries very well. Today morning, I saw him bowl the regular off-spinners, carrom balls, the straighter ones and all. Ojha, on the other hand was more orthodox in nature and understands his limitations very well. It was an excellent exhibition of classic spin bowling by both Ojha and Ashwin. They flighted the ball, made it turn and jump, which is a visual treat for the true connoisseur of Test Cricket. I sincerely wish these guys hang around few more years and do justice to their talent and revive the famous art of spin bowling in India.