Australian great Ian Chappell has described senior India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin as one of the best Test bowlers playing the game right now.
But when former India player Sanjay Manjrekar expressed his “problems” with Ashwin being seen as an all-time great by citing his overseas record and the recent successes of Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel, Chappell recalled West Indies pace great Joel Garner’s handsome contributions when bowling alongside some of the game’s finest speed merchants.
“When people start talking about him as being one of the all-time greats of the game then I have a few problems,” Manjrekar said on the ESPNcricinfo programme ‘Runorder’.
“One basic problem I have with Ashwin is that when you look at SENA countries, Ashwin doesn’t have a single five-wicket haul there.
“And the other thing when you talk about him running through sides on Indian pitches that are suited to his kind of bowling is that in the last four years, Jadeja has matched him with wicket-taking abilities.
“Then, interestingly, in the last series against England, Axar Patel got more wickets than Ashwin on similar pitches. So that is my problem with accepting Ashwin as a real all-time great,” Manjrekar concluded.
Not convinced with Manjrekar’s observation, Chappell, the astute captain of his time, cited Garner, one of most feared fast bowlers of all time, as example.
“I would like to make a couple of points there — if you look at Joel Garner, I mean how many five-wicket hauls Joel Garner has? Not many, when you consider how good he was and his record. And why, because he was performing with three other very, very fine players,” Chappell pointed out as Manjrekar listened.
“And I think, particularly of late, I find that the Indian attack has been so strong that the wickets are being shared around more.
“And the other point I would make is because of Ashwin’s reputation I think the England players probably concentrated more on keeping Ashwin out and with Axar Patel, well, let’s be blunt about it, they didn’t have a bloody clue,” Chappell added.
Besides Ashwin, the former Australian captain picked Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Kagiso Rabada among the top-five best bowlers right now, while keeping Pat Cummins at the top of the list.
He rated Ashwin ahead of Australia off-spinner Nathan Lyon.
“I think Ashwin is a better bowler than Nathan Lyon. Have a look at Nathan Lyon’s strike rate, you are in the 70s and I am going back to 2018.
“Nathan Lyon, to me, I think runs get scored through the onside when he is bowling to the right-handers and that really just shouldn’t happen. Yes, he is a fine bowler but I think Ashwin is a better bowler.”
As far as Ishant is concerned, Chappell is very impressed with his record since the start of 2018.
“Ishant’s record in the last I think I went back to the start of 2018 and looking at some stats and his record is extremely good,” Chappell said.
Ishant has taken 77 wickets in 22 Tests since 2018.