Worcestershire legend Norman Gifford says Indian spinner Ravichandran Ashwin is an ideal signing to help the County’s promotion push in the Specsavers County Championship as it enters the final straight.
Ashwin is due to arrive at New Road in time for the home clash with local rivals Gloucestershire which begins on Bank Holiday Monday – the first of four games he is available for – as a replacement for the injured John Hastings.
Former Worcestershire captain Gifford knows more than most about the art of spin bowling from a superb first class career which brought him 2,068 wickets – the 27th highest tally of all time – at an average of 23.56.
He also played 15 Tests and for England – a figure which would have been considerably higher had his career not overlapped with Derek Underwood – and he is still involved at Worcestershire as their spin bowling coach and club president.
Gifford believes Ashwin’s arrival will be a win-win situation – with the player aiding second placed Worcestershire’s bid for a return to the top flight and also gaining experience of English conditions before India tour next summer.
But Gifford is also confident Worcestershire’s bunch of young spinners, including Brett D’Oliveira, George Rhodes and Ben Twohig, will reap the benefits of working with Ashwin during the next month.
He said: “Ashwin is international class. He has got a proven record and we need to win three or four games and he is going to help us.
“I think it is a good move, an excellent signing. You look at his record and it stacks up with anyone in the game now.
“It will be interesting and a motivatng sort of move for him and an interesting experience for him to play county cricket.
“It is going to be good to see. It will be an experience for him to bowl on English wickets and it’s a double win situation.
“Worcestershire will have the benefit of him playing for them and he will learn about bowling in English conditions.
“You’ve only got to watch some of his stuff to see how well he has bowled over the years. He is very experienced. That is what we need.”
Worcestershire’s up and coming spinners have certainly been able to work with the best this summer with Australian’s leading off spinner Nathan Lyon and New Zealander Mitchell Santner also having spells with the County.
Now they can feed off the know-how and craft of Ashwin for the next five weeks.
Gifford said: “It will be great for all the young spinners, to have a chat and be around him when he is practicing will be a great fillip for them.
“Santner has been brilliant with all of them during these last few weeks. He has worked with all of them.
“He has been as good as gold and he has done well and bowled well for us. His record is as good as anyone.”