Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) appointed R Ashwin as their new captain for the upcoming Indian Premier League edition. The Punjab franchise had a poor outing in last two IPL editions as they lacked a quality leader. They have recognized Ashwin's leadership qualities and understanding of the game.
Ashwin expressed his feelings after getting appointed the new role. He believes every player is a captain in himself and 'captain' is just a tagline.
“For me, ‘captain’ is just a tagline. Captaincy and leadership are only taglines, labels. I have always believed that every player is his own captain and a leader of his team in his own right. This is just an extension of that.”
The Tamil Nadu spinner has played for a couple of franchises in last 10 years of the cash-rich league. He played for Chennai Super Kings for first eight seasons and Rising Pune Supergiants for the remaining. However, the offie has not played T20 cricket in last one year.
Ashwin has played all IPL seasons alongside with MS Dhoni, one of the most successful captain. The veteran cricketer stated that he has seen what it takes to reach the top.
“I have been around for a long time, I have played for two franchises. I have seen the ups and downs. I have been tonked around, I have had great success. I have been part of a very successful team in Chennai Super Kings, I have seen what it takes to win titles.
“I would like to take those learnings and put them into practice,” added the offspinner. “There has been plenty of talk about my future as an international cricketer in the limited-overs format, but this is not the time to dwell on that.
“The franchise has shown a great deal of faith in making me the captain of a side that includes Yuvi pa (Yuvraj Singh) and Aaron Finch, who has already led Australia previously. To be named the captain is a huge honour for me, and I will do everything I can to justify the confidence reposed in me by my franchise.”
Talking about the players he will lead, Ashwin said that they will all work together for the betterment of the team.
"We have all played with and against each other previously,” agreed Ashwin. “Obviously, while I might be the captain, we will all work together to take the team forward. These guys bring a lot of experience and expertise with them, and I would love to tap into that. As a captain, I would like to offer something different in terms of strategising and going by my instinct. I have been a captain earlier too, leading Tamil Nadu to limited-overs titles. I myself was a young captain then and learnt quite a bit on the job. I am obviously a more mature individual now, and I am confident of getting the best out of the wonderful talent alongside whom I will turn out for Kings XI Punjab.”
Ashwin is the only bowling skipper in this year's IPL. He joked that despite having Virender Sehwag as mentor (who loves thrashing bowlers), they picked him. “It might have come as a big surprise to many that a batsman (Virender Sehwag, the Punjab mentor) plumped for a bowler as the captain,” laughed Ashwin, “but we have come to expect the unexpected from Viru pa! He had got in touch with me at the end of the first day of the auction in Bangalore and told me that I would be the captain, even though the public announcement was only made today. I feel that a bowler is in the unique position as a captain, and while I am sure many people would have told Viru pa to reconsider having a bowler as the skipper, it is a great chance for me to contribute to making the team a strong unit.
“Twenty20 cricket is about being able to think on your feet, being smart, being intuitive and willing to back your instincts. I think we have all of that covered within our set-up. The captain-coach isn’t something I ever hankered after because in my mind, I have always been a captain, a leader, at whatever level I have played. I am delighted that there is now a formal tag associated with me; I can’t wait to get together with the backroom staff and the leadership group within the team to chalk out how we will approach the IPL this time around.”
(With Inputs of Wisden India)