Ashwin has better support than Bhajji: Hayden

Ashwin has better support than Bhajji: Hayden

Former Australia opener Matthew Hayden said  Ravichandran Ashwin's stats are "simply phenomenal" but Harbhajan Singh in his prime had to shoulder more responsibility since he did not have the fast bowling support like  the Tamil Nadu tweaker.

Ashwin recently broke Dennis Lillee's record to become the fastest bowler to 300 wickets, achieving it in 54 Test matches. Hayden had faced Harbhajan in his prime and also watched young Ashwin from close quarters during his days with Chennai Super Kings.

"I think stats often lie but having said that, some of the milestone show remarkable respect to Ravichandran Ashwin. Even if he (Ashwin) plays for another five years, he would be remembered as one of the greats of his generation. His skill-set, like Harbhajan, is masterful but he is probably not as attacking off-spinner as Harbhajan was," Hayden told PTI.

He put the comparison in context by taking into account the kind of bowling attacks these two had for support. "Ashwin doesn't really need to be as attacking as Bhajji. His role within this side is well-defined by a slightly better fast bowling attack (as support cast) than what my generation was facing. You line-up Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and put Jasprit Bumrah into the mix with Jadeja as the second spinner as well. So Ashwin is playing his role and doing it successfully," Hayden explained.

"Harbhajan I thought in his era was 'the dominant bowler' especially against Australia so if Bhajji wasn't taking wickets, India were in trouble. I don't think Venkatesh Prasad was a wonderful Test match bowler. I think Harbhajan was the lone role maker. With due respect, Zaheer Khan or Javagal Srinath were wonderful bowlers but I think they were less of a threat compared to guys that are there now," Hayden said.

However, when asked to compare Virat Kohli and Steve Smith, the former opener said that both are destined for greatness in their own way. "Kohli, Smith, Joe Root and Kane Williamson are vastly different players and good thing about all these guys is that each one of them is stepping on greatness in their own ways along with Cheteshwar Pujara and his Rahul Dravid like approach to Test cricket," the burly Queenslander said.

On an imaginary battle between Kohli and Glenn McGrath, Hayden said: "He would have found a way I think like all great players do."  You can cast shadow over technique and everyone has their own flaws but reality is that they overcome those deficiencies with application and commitment. So Kohli would have done fine against Glenn I think."

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