Ravi Ashwin’s arrival at Yorkshire this year comes with a relatively short-term deal, although the India spin legend admits he will land at Emerald Headingley with a long-term view.
Ashwin has signed for a minimum of eight Specsavers County Championship games from mid-summer onwards, following his commitments with Delhi Capitals in the Indian Premier League.
An off-spinning all-rounder with more international wickets than anyone else during the last decade (564 across all three formats), Ashwin arrives at his third county with a huge reputation.
He takes up the reins from early season recruit Keshav Maharaj for the latest Division One campaign and is hoping to foster a strong tie with the White Rose county through his contributions both on and off the field.
Ashwin has previously played county cricket for Worcestershire (2017) and Nottinghamshire (2019), taking 54 wickets in nine matches added to 563 runs.
“I’ve played county cricket before, and this is probably the earliest I’ve signed with a club,” said the Chennai-born 33-year-old.
“I enjoy playing in the UK, so I’m really looking forward to coming North and playing well.
“Initially, I would have loved to have gone back to Worcester. I really enjoyed my stint there. But the year before I got injured and couldn’t get a contract. So last year I ended up going to Notts. I had a lot of fun there – it’s a great club.
“Now, having played two years with different clubs, it’s important for me to settle down and play for a particular club and attach myself there. I’m really looking forward to coming over to Yorkshire and seeing what can happen.
“As far as I’m concerned as both a cricketer and a person, I like a lot of stability. I just don’t turn up and play for the heck of it. The team means everything to me. So some sort of affinity will be very helpful.
“If I can get stability, that would be great. Having said that, the international schedule is so tight, it can be unfair to ask that of a club in return. But because I’m signing for a longer stint this year, hopefully after that it can work out for us if I’m only available for a shorter time.”
ashwinravi99</a> has a special message for Yorkshire supporters and members. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/OneRose?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#OneRose</a> <a href="https://t.co/YXxTAi2aPO">pic.twitter.com/YXxTAi2aPO</a></p>— Yorkshire CCC (YorkshireCCC) January 17, 2020
Ashwin has taken 362 wickets from 70 Tests since debuting in 2011. He is the fourth leading wicket-taker in Indian history, sitting behind Harbhajan Singh (417 from 103 Tests), Kapil Dev (434 from 131) and Anil Kumble (619 from 132).
I have signed up with
YorkshireCCC</a> for the upcoming <a href="https://twitter.com/CountyChamp?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">CountyChamp season. It’s a season I am really looking forward to, ???? for some good results.
— Ashwin Ravichandran (@ashwinravi99) January 16, 2020
He revealed last week in the club’s press release announcing his signing that following in the footsteps of Sachin Tendulkar and playing for the county was a “wonderful feeling”.
“I haven’t spoken to Sachin, but I have spoken to (Cheteshwar) Pujara about Yorkshire,” he revealed. “He and I go back a long way, right back to about 14. He mentioned to me that it’s a lovely club.
“Yorkshire has a rich tradition with Indian players.
“Right now, where it stands, county cricket is looked upon in India as a big learning for all the players here – even if you have played international cricket. I get a lot of interest from junior cricketers who want to play in England because it provides massive exposure.
“To get a contract with a club like Yorkshire is something a lot of young cricketers would die for because of the rich history in county cricket and Yorkshire standing at the top of it.”
Ashwin’s experience will be an invaluable tool for not just Yorkshire’s young spinners, but even the senior players and coaches can tap into his knowledge.
It has already been spoken about him potentially staying on at Headingley during the Royal London one-day Cup through late July and early August in order to help with some coaching.
“That’s still something we are discussing given the timeline of some of the domestic competitions in India,’ he said.
“I have been running a cricket Academy in Chennai for about eight or nine years now.
“Rather than looking upon things as any kind of coaching stint, that’s how I like to play my cricket. I try and contribute to my fellow players with discussions each day about how we can get better.
“I wouldn’t really say it’s (coaching) an ambition of mine, more so how I play the game. I am a cricket tragic in many ways. So contributing to the development of our game is something I’m looking forward to.
“When I spoke to my agent, Niall O’Brien, I said, ‘I’m looking for a club where I can contribute and they are happy to take on the all-round element within the club’.
“When I went to Notts, I did help their spinners – Matt Carter and Liam Patterson-White. I really enjoyed my time with them. But, very importantly, I don’t look at myself as a some sort of spin bowling specialist. Whatever way I can contribute and help, I will do.”
Ashwin will arrive with a friendly face already in the Yorkshire dressing room.
He explained: “When I played for Worcester, Mick Cadmore (current White Rose dressing room attendant) was there, and he is now at Yorkshire along with his son, Tom, who I have heard a lot about. That straightaway helped to join the dots for me.
“When you travel away from India and move to a new country, it really helps if you know someone already. But I’ve been coming to England for the last 10 years and playing county cricket for the last three. I think I understand the culture pretty well.
“Yorkshire, I’m sure, will be different because of locality and even weather. I’m looking forward to seeing how cold it is!”
Hot or cold weather wise, Ashwin is very confident, from the conversations he has had with the Yorkshire hierarchy, that the sun will be shining brightly on the club in the near future.
He said: “I know the club is hoping to go through some wonderful campaigns in the next few years. They want to achieve a lot in terms of the overall – trophies and the development of players.”
Ashwin’s spin bowling is his primary asset, but his batting is not to be sniffed at. He will certainly add significant quality in the middle to lower order – or maybe even higher.
“I’m very happy with how I’m going,” he added. “The wickets are coming and I’ve started scoring some runs again,” he added.
“The confidence with my batting actually started when I came to Notts last year. I found my batting tempo whilst working with Peter Moores. He’s someone I really enjoyed working with. I personally thought that was when my batting really came on for me.
“I batted as high as four for Notts, so I’m happy to bat anywhere.”