India – a country always known for producing some legendary spinners is undergoing a major makeshift as the faster bowlers have slowly and gradually emerged as the more potent unit to win matches for the country. On one hand, if the emergence of pacers is a good sign, the scarcity of some quality spinners in the country is a worrisome fact, particularly the finger spinners. Raising concerns over the issue, former India spinners feel it’s high-time when the establishment focuses on producing quality Test spinners.

Ravichandran Ashwin’s fading impact in overseas conditions have also been a point of debate from quite some time now. With 365 wickets in 71 Test matches, Ashwin has been India’s highest wicket-taker among present bowlers in Test cricket. He is the go-to bowler in home conditions but the current team management hasn’t exactly put complete faith in Tamil Nadu tweaker’s abilities on foreign strips.

While former India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh feels that seasoned domestic performers like Akshay Wakhare (34 years) and Jalaj Saxena (33 years) should be given a break, another veteran Laxman Sivaramakrishnan is of the opinion that a younger pool needs to be created as Ashwin still has ‘good three years of Test cricket left in him’.

“Ashwin is a very hard-working bowler and he has not taken his place for granted. He still has three good years left and it’s time now that we find the next crop of young spinners which is ready to take over when time comes,” Sivaramakrishnan was quoted by PTI.

But Harbhajan has a different idea.

“Jalaj Saxena and Akshay Wakhare have performed year after year at the domestic level, at times on flat tracks. I have seen Akshay closely at the Mumbai Indians nets. Age for me is just a number. I don’t believe these two can’t be tried,” the ‘Turbanator’ said.

But why have we not produced any second line of off-spinners in these years?

“I haven’t seen a good off-spinner at the Ranji level. That’s because of bad captaincy at the Ranji Trophy level. If an off-spinner gets hit by a right-hander, captains take him off and that hits his confidence. Harbhajan Singh became a great bowler because the captain was Sourav Ganguly, who gave him encouragement,” said Sivaramakrishnan, the hero of 1985 Benson & Hedges Cup.

Siva does have sympathy for Saxena though. “Jalaj’s is a classic case of his career completely coinciding with Ashwin’s best years. But right now we can’t look at players who are 33 or 34 years. Because by the time another three years go by, the fitness levels might be an issue.”

What about Karnataka’s Krishnappa Gowtham?

“He is good but I don’t think good enough for Test cricket,” was Siva’s honest assessment.

“We need a new set of good spinners (all types) at the India A level, who should be ready in the next three years. Rahul Chahar is very young but again, he is more of a white-ball bowler. Shahbaz Nadeem is 30 plus and Yuzvendra Chahal is in his late 20s,” he added with a note of caution.

Another former Test off-spinner Rajesh Chauhan believes that Ashwin’s problem is not knowing at times what is his wicket-taking delivery.

“Ashwin is a class bowler but with so much variations, he at times doesn’t know what is his wicket-taking delivery. About Jalaj, I don’t think he is a specialist off-spinner. He is more of an all-rounder.”

(With PTI Inputs)