Ravichandran Ashwin has likened his tactical retirement in an IPL 2022 game between Rajastan Royals and Lucknow Super Giants to the concept of substitution in football.
Ashwin has previous for going against the norm and utilising laws that are rarely exploited. In 2019, he famously ‘Mankaded’ Jos Buttler in an IPL contest and in the same year, during the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy final between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, Ashwin, the non-striker, discarded his pads in an attempt to run faster when his side needed three to win off the last delivery. On Sunday, the off-spinner created headlines yet again as he became the first IPL player to tactically retire out, to ensure that his teammate Riyan Parag – a theoretically superior ball-striker – could come to the middle.
The Rajasthan Royals all-rounder walked out to bat at No.6 after his side had collapsed to 67-4 after 9.5 overs. Ashwin, who has five Test hundreds his name, helped consolidate but struggled to up the ante at the backend of the innings. He eventually retired out for a 23-ball 28 in the 19th over. Ashwin’s last boundary had come in the 16th over of the innings, where he hit Krishnappa Gowtham for two sixes.
Parag replaced Ashwin at the crease and went on to score a four-ball eight as Rajasthan eventually won the game by three runs.
Speaking on his YouTube channel after the incident, Ashwin revealed that the “stigma” associated with retiring out would evaporate and that “T20 as a sport is heading towards where football has reached.”
“It was a tactical move. Riyan Parag was the next batter and when that Gowtham over was over, I gave myself some time to see whether I got a six or a few fours. I threw the kitchen sink at everything but I couldn’t get the timing going. If Riyan Parag could come and smash even two sixes, it would be handy and so, it was a tactical decision. It might work sometimes and it might not work sometimes. These things happen quite frequently in football. And we haven’t cracked the T20 format fully yet.”
He went on to add that retiring out is a concept similar to using substitutes in football.
“This is a millennial sport. This is the next generation’s sport. In fact, in football, Christiano Ronaldo or [Lionel] Messi keep scoring goals frequently. But their team’s goalkeepers should save goals. And their defenders should defend well. Only then can Christiano Ronaldo or a Messi can get the limelight.
“There is a popular saying, ‘Behind every successful man, there is a woman.’ Likewise, behind every successful sportsperson, there is an underrated player who has done his job quietly and goes unnoticed. But T20 as a sport is heading towards where football has reached. Just like how they are using substitutes, what I did was similar. Already we [cricket] are late. But I believe this will happen quite a lot in the coming days. This won’t be a stigma. This will happen more times.”