indian cricket

Not exceptional enough? Ashwin’s omission from A+ central contract category is hard to understand

Despite picking up 300 Test wickets at record rate, the off-spinner’s performance was not deemed “exceptional.”

It was in November 2017 that India off-spinner R Ashwin created history by becoming the quickest bowler to pick up 300 wickets in Tests. The achievement capped off two years of consistent match-winning performances that saw the Virat Kohli-led outfit trample oppositions, especially during India’s long and incredibly successful home season.

Yes, the record came at a time when there were question marks over Ashwin’s career as a white ball bowler. By the time he reached the landmark, four months had passed since his last appearance in an ODI. But, despite the pivot made by the think-tank of the Indian team towards wrist spin in the shorter formats, Ashwin remained at the forefront of India’s bowling attack in Tests. His ability to bat with confidence lower down the order only highlighted his worth as a cricketer.

However, despite his all-round ability, Ashwin for some reason seems to be steadily losing favour with the powers that be. After being dropped from the scheme of things in limited-overs cricket, the 31-year-old’s unprecedented achievements were conveniently ignored as India’s international and domestic cricketers were accorded a raise as part of a new revised contract and compensation structure.

The Committee Of Administrators comprising Vinod Rai and Diana Edulji along with Chief Executive Officer Rahul Johri met with senior members of the Indian team - Kohli, MS Dhoni, Rohit Sharma and coach Ravi Shastri before devising at a formula. As part of this new system a new slab, namely “A+ category” has been created to reward “pure excellence”.

Rai revealed that the decision to introduce a new A+ category was taken after suggestions from Kohli and Dhoni.

“They wanted a category of pure excellence where you perform and you are rewarded. And hence the players would not occupy a permanent slot in this category because if you don’t perform then you slip down the order,” Rai said.

The senior national selection committee was, then, assigned the role to pick names for each of these categories. Skipper Kohli, Rohit, opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah have been made a part of this “elite” A+ category.

“Their logic was this category would have only players featuring in all three formats, players who are in the top-10 rankings,” Rai said.

Another snub for Ashwin

Out of the “elite” five, only Bhuvneshwar is not in the top-10 rankings in any format. But, one cannot begrudge him a place in the top category.

But surprisingly enough, Ashwin had to make do with the A category, a rung below where he shares space with Ravindra Jadeja, both of whom are in the top-10 of the ICC Test bowlers rankings. The duo was at the centre of India’s incredible Test run at home in 2016 and 2017. The spell saw India dominate the likes of South Africa, England, New Zealand and defeat Australia. The pair of Ashwin and Jadeja led India’s charge in this period. Ashwin in particular was the wrecker-in-chief of each batting line-up that made its way to the middle.

During the course of this rich vein of form, Ashwin broke records like he was gobbling up breakfast - just a routine affair. If that is not counted as pure excellence then what else is?

It wouldn’t too far to say the latest snub matches the pattern of disrespect that has been meted out to the off-spinner in the recent past by the think-tank of the Indian team.

It was halfway through last year that Ashwin and Jadeja were unceremoniously ‘rested’ from the limited-overs squad of the Indian team. They have not had a chance to don the blue jersey for India since. Despite the setback, both continue to perform in the five-day game. Ashwin’s four-wicket haul, taken in Centurion during the second Test during India’s recently-concluded tour of South Africa, was testament to the mastery of skills as a spinner.

Jadeja, currently occupies the third spot the Test bowlers rankings, while he is placed second among all-rounders in the longest format.

The decision to not consider them for a place in the A+ category does seem baffling, especially since one of the spot is being occupied by 23-year-old Jasprit Bumrah, who has played just three Tests and Rohit - another player who is by no means a Test regular.

While his performances across formats have been impressive, the decision to promote him straight to the top category seems a bit premature, considering that he has yet to make a dent in the longest format.

If one were to argue that Ashwin’s success as a spinner came on familiar wickets at home, so did most of the runs scored by Kohli, Rohit and Dhawan that have earned them the right to be considered A+ worthy.

Men’s contract structure

  • Grade A+ (Rs7 crore, new category): Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shikhar Dhawan.
  • Grade A (Rs5 crore, previously Rs2 cr): Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, MS Dhoni, Wriddhiman Saha.
  • Grade B (Rs3 crore, previously Rs1 cr): KL Rahul, Umesh Yadav, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Hardik Pandya, Ishant Sharma, Dinesh Karthik.
  • Grade C (Rs1 cr, previously Rs50 lakh): Kedar Jadhav, Manish Pandey, Axar Patel, Karun Nair, Suresh Raina, Parthiv Patel, Jayant Yadav.
We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

Some of the most significant innovations in automotive history made their debut in this iconic automobile

The latest version features India's first BS VI norms-compliant engine and a host of 'intelligent' features.

The S-Class, also known as Sonderklasse or special class, represents Mercedes Benz’ top-of-the-line sedan line up. Over the decades, this line of luxury vehicles has brought significant automotive technologies to the mainstream, with several firsts to its credit and has often been called the best car in the world. It’s in the S-Class that the first electronic ESP and ABS anti-lock braking system made their debut in the 20th century.

Twenty first-century driver assistance technologies which predict driver-behaviour and the vehicle’s course in order to take preventive safety measures are also now a staple of the S-Class. In the latest 2018 S-Class, the S 350 d, a 360-degree network of cameras, radars and other sensors communicate with each other for an ‘intelligent’ driving experience.

The new S-Class systems are built on Mercedes Benz’s cutting-edge radar-based driving assistance features, and also make use of map and navigation data to calculate driving behaviour. In cities and on other crowded roads, the Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC helps maintain the distance between car and the vehicle in front during speeds of up to 210 kmph. In the same speed range, Active Steering Assist helps the driver stay in the centre of the lane on stretches of straight road and on slight bends. Blind Spot Assist, meanwhile, makes up for human limitations by indicating vehicles present in the blind spot during a lane change. The new S-Class also communicates with other cars equipped with the Car-to-X communication system about dicey road conditions and low visibility due to fog, rain, accidents etc. en route.

The new S-Class can even automatically engage the emergency system when the driver is unable to raise an alarm. Active Emergency Stop Assist brings the car to a stop if it detects sustained periods of inactivity from the driver when Active Steering Assist is switched on. If the driver doesn’t respond to repeated visual and audible prompts, it automatically activates the emergency call system and unlocks the car to provide access to first responders.

The new Mercedes-Benz S 350 d in India features another notable innovation – the country’s first BS VI norms-compliant car engine, in accordance with government regulations to control vehicular pollution. Debuting two years before the BS VI deadline of 2020, the S 350 d engine also remains compatible with the current BS IV fuels.

The S 350 d is an intelligent car made in India, for Indian roads - in the Mercedes Benz S-Class tradition. See the video below to know what drives the S-Class series by Mercedes Benz.

To know more about the 2018 S-Class, click here.


This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Mercedes Benz and not by the Scroll editorial team.