If you get to know Ravichandran Ashwin’s personal life, then you’ll understand that it was his self-belief that has taken him this far. The player, initially a fast bowler and an opening batsman, turned into a spinner, which is no simple matter. His analytical mind, as we can see through wild variations along with him just backing himself, has clearly been the catalyst behind all the success. It is rather bantering to know that the cricketing brains initially did not rate him highly in Red ball cricket.
Let us now unfold Ravichandran Ashwin and his journey in the elite list of 500 wicket takers and more.
Ashwin’s journey so far on his road to 500
Let us start with a short anecdote of the great man
Ashwin’s injury a curse or a blessing?
During his under-14 match with Karnataka, he scored 10 and 4, respectively. He sustained a pelvic muscle tear injury during that match, and with that injury, he also ended up playing the next game.
While playing the next match, his scores were 0 and 0, which got him dropped. His pain through that injury started to increase. Then after scans, it showed that a blood clot appeared in between his leg muscle. This injury led Ashwin to be out of cricket for almost a year.
He was out of his under-14, and someone had replaced him as the opening batter. After eight months of recovery, he came back. He started his journey back to the field, and through this, he realized that he could not bowl pace anymore due to the changes after the injury. This is how Spinner Ashwin’s journey started, as he cannot bowl pace anymore. A spin bowling all-rounder providing a lot of variations, who’s 6 foot 2 inches, would be an asset for any side. Ashwin has indeed paved his way, being vital for all the sides he has played, especially in the red ball format. His injury rather turned out to be a blessing more than a setback and his self-belief is definitely a reflection of it all.
Ashwin the Spin Wizard
Best figures: 7/59
5 wicket hauls: 34
10 Wicket hauls: 8
Back in 2011, when he was set to make his test debut against West Indies at Home, a lot of the critics said that he was not cut out for red ball and that he should only stick to white ball cricket. Little did all of them know that he would turn out to be one of the all-time greats in spin bowling and join an elite list of cricketers. He ended up getting 123 and 9 wickets in his debut, leading him to become the man of the match. And to add a cherry on top, in the third test of the series, Ashwin ended up being the third Indian to score a 5 wicket haul and a century.
His 490 wickets off just 95 matches is quite astonishing, considering the latest addition to the 500 club took 135 games. The fact that he gets 5.16 wickets per match is a ridiculous stat. Given these, it is safe to say that he will surely achieve this landmark in the upcoming 5 test match tour in England. Harbhajan Singh’s void was clearly required to be filled, and Ravi Chandran did that with open arms.
Hisk Peak (Year 2015-2017)
After 2012, he somewhat cemented his role in the men in blues, where he regularly played three game formats. 2015-17 were his best-performing years with both bat and the ball.
His absolute peak was in 2016 when he was awarded the ICC Men’s Test Cricketer of the Year, and in that year, he had eight five-wicket hauls and 3. ten-wicket hauls along with his career-best 7 for 59 against New Zealand. In the other two years, he also had commendable contributions with the bat. He was also awarded the Cricketer of the Year award. It is safe to say that Ashwin completely bossed the year 2020.
But the decline started in 2018 when his performance began to dip due to various criticisms and media pressures, and sooner than not, he began to play fewer and fewer games.
But Ashwin, given how he always backs himself no matter the occasion, is undoubtedly going to rise again. In 2021, after his performances on the domestic side, he made a return to the red-ball side. Ever since then, Ashwin has not looked back, performing with the ball. In 2021, he bagged 54 wickets in matches, which included three five-wicket hauls.
And, finally in 2023, for his performances of 41 wickets in seven test matches, he has been nominated for the ICC Test Cricketer of the Year, being the only bowler on the list.
The Elite List he will join
As I have said before, it is pretty evident that in the coming 5 test match series against England, Ashwin will reach his 500th wicket landmark. He currently sits at number 9 in all-time test wicket-takers, and he will likely be joining Anil Kumble as the only two test Indian players who have hit more than 500 wickets.
In the list of spinners, he has alongside Nathan Lyon as the newest addition, who is a big fan of his. Then comes the GOATs of the game, like Murali, who’s at number 1 with his 800 wickets, then Shane Warne with his 708 wickets. Apart from this group of elite gentlemen, the all-time test wicket-taker list is dominated by pacers. The 500 club currently has three players: Glen Macgrath with 563, Courtney Walsh at 519, Nathan Lyon at 509, and soon Ravi Chandran Ashin at 500 and more.
It is safe to say that Ashwin, at 37, is a playing legend of the sport.
The players who will join the elite list after Ashwin
After Ashwin’s milestone, there will be quite some time for anyone to hit the 500th wicket mark as the currently playing closest cricketer is Tim Southee of New Zealand, who is at 374 wickets. Tim Southee, with this declining pace, may be unlikely to hit the 500 wickets, but 400 will is surely imminent.
Aside from Southee, Kagiso Rabada from South Africa, who has 291 wickets in just 62 matches, is nerve-wracking. Given he is just 28 years old, 3-4 years of consistent cricket may lead him to reach the 500 club.
Pat Cummins is also another gentleman who could reach the 500 clubs, given he is just 30 years old while having 258 wickets in just 58 matches, and his other teammate. Pat’s partner in crime, Mitchell Starc, is known for his devotion and loyalty towards fitness, Starc, if he can keep his fitness, which he always has kept impeccably, can surely hit 500 wickets as he is currently standing at 345 wickets.
With the world test championship just starting, all of these players can bump up their stats and, at the bare minimum, cross 400 wickets easily.
How far can Ashwin go? (The 600 Club)
Ashwin, given his devotion towards fitness like he has always kept, can clearly play for another 2-3 years. In 2024 alone, Team India will be playing 10 test matches, 5 of which will be against England, two against Bangladesh, and three which against New Zealand.
And by the looks of the 2025 schedule India will be playing more than 12 test matches home and away against different teams. Essentially, it is quite clear that if Ashwin stays devoted and performs consistently, we may soon see him on the elite list of 600 wicket-takers.
To Summarize: Understanding Ashwin and his legacy
Ravichandran Ashwin’s rise to become a spin maestro with 490 Test wickets demonstrates not only his on-field ability but also the unshakeable self-belief that drove his development. Overcoming an early career injury that forced him to switch from fast bowling to spin, Ashwin’s tenacity converted adversity into opportunity. As he approaches the exclusive 500-wicket club, the 37-year-old continues to defy age and expectations, with his dedication to health and recent great performances pointing to a potential 600 Test wickets even. Ashwin’s story exemplifies the enduring spirit of a player whose impact goes beyond personal accomplishments, affecting the fundamental fabric of Indian cricket.
Looking ahead, Ashwin’s tale is particular to continue, with the five-test series against England and a congested 2024-2025 schedule providing many possibilities for him to build on his cricketing legacy. As he navigates the challenges of a demanding playing schedule, Ashwin’s pursuit of perfection and the probable quest for the 600-wicket milestone will enthrall cricket fans worldwide, cementing his place as one of the game’s modern-day superstars.