In order to prepare himself for red-ball cricket ahead of the rescheduled fifth Test against England, India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin turned up for his club team, PTI reported on Friday (June 10).
The Indian Test team is likely to fly to England on June 15. They will feature in a four-day warm-up game against Leicestershire from June 24 before the scheduled Test at Edgbaston from July 1.
As per the report, Ashwin played for his club side MRC 'A' in the TNCA First Division semifinal and final, days after the culmination of the IPL 2022 season, where he was part of the Rajasthan Royals.
"The purpose of playing these games (First Division) is to shift from 20 overs to this (red-ball) format... All these things are workload management. As you grow older, you play more and play smarter.
"I am trying to do that. I am enjoying my game. I just want to go there (England) and take it as it comes. I feel I can contribute with the bat and bowl well. I want to keep ticking on my fitness and keep working," Ashwin told reporters after leading MRC 'A' to their maiden First Division title.
Asked if he had set any targets for himself, the veteran spinner said: "I have worked incredibly hard on my game. I think a lot. I have done all these things over the years that I feel I am in a position where I can take it as it comes. I am happy playing the kind of cricket I am playing. I do not want to think too far ahead."
According to Ashwin, steps need to be taken to restore the red-ball culture in the state and he urged the TNCA to revert to the three-day or four-day format for the First Division league next year. Currently, it is being played on a two-day format.
"I would like to see the First Division go back to the days when I started playing. There was seriously good quality. I wish the TNCA pushes the game to three or four days next year.
"Only if these quality players play back to back against each other, there will be more competition for places. Tamil Nadu cricket, yes, we have done superbly well in the white-ball game.
"If we have to revive the red-ball culture, the First Division is the place where we start. I believe I am giving my 1 per cent by coming back and playing here. With our team, there has been a lot of hard work. There have been a lot of disappointments," he added.
Notably, Tamil Nadu hasn’t been able to qualify for the knockout stage in the last couple of Ranji seasons.
"If you are serious about playing good red-ball cricket, both our fast bowling and our batting against fast bowling definitely need to go up. There are no two ways about it.
"At the moment, there is intent. Our fast bowlers are struggling to find the right length and balance. We have got spin by a dozen; we can manage and all that. In the Ranji Trophy also, when spin comes into play, we come to our own. We know how to do it. Fast bowling is something that we definitely need to work on," Ashwin stated.
(With PTI inputs)