New Delhi : One of the few off-spinners in world cricket with a clean action, India's Ravichandran Ashwin admits that the need to use the allowed 15-degree flex does arise in the modern game even though he has learnt to bowl with a straight arm.
Ashwin was criticised for bowling with long sleeves in Bangladesh in 2014 but the offie is unapologetic about following the fad for getting a 'competitive edge'.
"As I said, forming rules is not my job; playing is. If there is a 15-degree rule to be used as an advantage, why should I lag behind? There is a precise advantage that I wanted to use. People started thinking I had gone mad but I did not take offence," Ashwin said.
"I felt only mad people succeed in life and if you're mad about something and believe in something, you will come out on top. I felt to a greater degree that I did come out on top. If I hadn't ventured into those things, I would not have learned as much as I did," he added.
There has been a clampdown on erring off-spinners by the ICC in recent times, but Ashwin, who has a clean action, sympathises with the wrongdoers.
"It is a very hard thing because somebody who has trained to be an off-spinner, made a career out of it, is suddenly being reprimanded for it - it is hard. On a personal level, I feel sad for the guy, but the game evens out that way. I love listening to a lot of experts and commentators around the world, like Ian Chappell," he said.
"I listen to what these people have to say and there is a lot of importance to what they speak, because they have come through the era where cricket was a gentleman's game. It was played in an artistic fashion. Power was not a big part of the game. When they speak, it is for the love of the game and they mean a lot to me," he added.
Ashwin is also not happy about his much-talked about relationship with veteran off-spinner Harbhajan Singh.
"I wish I could go on talking about this topic. I think he was one of my role models when I started bowling off-spin. I was an opening batsman who used to bowl fast-medium with the new ball. Then an injury prompted me to stay away from the game," he said.
"I started bowling off-spin after seeing what he did in 2001 (against Australia) and that is where it began. India needed a role model like Harbhajan Singh back then, somebody who could start winning games for India with the ball. That is where my love for off-spin began," he added.