New Delhi, July 17: 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 told 'ESPNcricinfo'.
"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.
'Harbhajan one of my role models'
"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 offspin. 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 offspin 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 offspin began," he added.