Even with the proliferation of Test matches taking 500 wickets is a commendable feat especially when one considers that Ravichandran Ashwin is only the ninth bowler to scale this peak. But then there are other factors that place him on a pedestal all his own. He also has over 3000 runs and that is a double that only Shane Warne and Stuart Broad have achieved.

However neither Broad (18.03) nor Warne (17.32) comes anywhere near Ashwin’s average (25.59). Among those in the 500 plus bracket only Broad and Anil Kumble have got one hundred; Ashwin has five. When it comes to strike rate Ashwin with 51.49 is in the top spot marginally ahead of Glenn McGrath’s 51.95. As far as the averages are concerned Ashwin’s 23.92 is third behind McGrath (21.64) and Muthiah Muralitharan’s 22.72

All this puts his performance into proper perspective as also the fact that he is the only one in the 500 plus wicket club to have notched up a century and five wickets in an innings in a Test – and he has done it three times. Only Ian Botham with five has done this on more occasions.

As far as batting ability goes with the bowling feats Ashwin stands alone even if his feats with the ball alone guarantees him a place among the all-time greats. He is second only to Muralitharan in most player of the series awards but whereas the Sri Lankan has won 11 such awards in 61 Test series Ashwin has won 10 in just 41 such contests.

But has Ashwin received adequate recognition for his manifold achievements? One would like to think that the answer to the question would be negative for after being around for nearly 14 years Ashwin at times is still made to feel that he is not a regular member of the side despite having a proven record. He has been in and out of the side which is why he has played only 98 Tests, 116 ODIs and 65 T-20 internationals when in the normal course of things he should have figured in many more matches.

He has been dropped when he should have been an automatic selection. Not that this has bothered Ashwin who whenever he has returned to the side has turned in a stellar performance either with bat or ball – quite often with both.

To be candid Ashwin should never have had this feeling that he is always fighting for a place in the side. Simply put he is a great player, period. His achievements are numerous underscoring his unique contribution in the various formats but it is the Test record that stands out which is apt for Ashwin is an old school bowler with new and varied tricks. Having earned an engineering degree much like his illustrious predecessor from the same city S. Venkatraghavan Ashwin is always considering various angles and theories.

On the face of it he may be listed as an off spinner but he has a large repertoire of tricks that he uses to befuddle the best batting line-up. There is the carom ball, the slider, the vicious straighter one, the occasional leg break and the conventional off break – all bowled with minimal change of action and based on the twin basics of line and length.

His achievements are numerous and I shall just list a few of his greatest feats which puts him in proper perspective when placed alongside the best in 147 years of Test cricket. He is the fastest to 250 (45 Tests), 300 (56 Tests) and 350 wickets (66 Tests). He is the third fastest to 200 wickets (37 Tests) and second fastest to 400 (77 Tests), 450 (89 Tests) and 500 wickets (98 Tests).

There are a number of comparatively minor records that he is associated with and as far as Indian records are concerned one has lost count of them. That he is an all-time Indian great has been known for some time. It is now time to acknowledge him as among the greats of the game. After all there are only two other cricketers who have notched up a double of 3000 runs and 500 wickets. But Ashwin should not just be judged by the impressive stats.

What has caught the eye is how cerebral he is as a cricketer. He is always thinking of ways of getting batsmen out. No one has ever thought more about the art and craft of spin bowling. He brings a geometrically exact science to bowling befitting an engineer. The same approach goes for setting his field or in analyzing an opponent’s strength and weakness.

Ashwin’s mesmeric spells with the ball have at times camouflaged his superb work with the bat. In fact in only his third Test he came up with a hundred from No 8. Moreover a serious approach to batting and his textbook strokes marked him out as someone who could bat higher up the order. But with the middle order having the ``houseful’’ board firmly struck upon it with a number of stalwarts around there was no way he could be accommodated in the middle order.

Not that it bothered Ashwin who was happy taking wickets by the bucketful and adding more than his mite with the bat down the order, a major highlight being his record 280-run partnership with Rohit Sharma for the seventh wicket while batting for almost five hours for 124 against West Indies at Kolkata in 2013. While his batting was improving there were fears in some quarters that there might be a dip in his bowling standards. There was no need for such trepidation for Ashwin was obviously made of sterner stuff.

It is a tribute to Ashwin’s skill and application to various aspects of the game that he has lasted so long despite strong competition. He came in at a critical juncture when Kumble had retired and Harbhajan Singh was past his best. But he filled the lacuna admirably taking over as the No 1 spinner even as Pragyan Ojha and Amit Mishra were around. Then came Ravindra Jadeja who has proved to be almost as good. In the shorter formats he has had to face competition from youngsters Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav. But Ashwin mentally very strong thrives on challenges and continues to be a force to reckon in all three formats even if his Test record will always be the jewel in the crown.