Yorkshire have recruited one of the best spinners in world cricket for the majority of the 2020 County Championship season.
Indian spinner Ravi Ashwin has signed on the dotted line at Headingley and will play a minimum of eight fixtures for the White Rose this year.
He will become the club’s front-line overseas spinner, following Keshav Maharaj’s successful five-game stint in 2019.
Yorkshire confirmed last month that Maharaj would re-join the squad for their first two Championship fixtures after taking 38 wickets during his short spell last season.
The White Rose begin their County Championship campaign with a home fixture against Gloucestershire on April 12 before travelling to face Essex in Chelmsford seven days later.
Ashwin will play for the Delhi Capitals in the Indian Premier League this spring and will join the Yorkshire squad following the conclusion of the IPL season and a short period of rest, at the request of the Indian Cricket Board.
The 33-year-old is the joint-fastest bowler of any variety to reach 350 test wickets, matching Muttiah Muralitharan’s record of 350 wickets in 66 matches in October.
Ashwin already has experience in the County Championship, having had spells with Worcestershire and Nottinghamshire in 2017 and 2019 respectively.
And the Indian is hoping to be effective with the bat and ball for Yorkshire in 2020.
Ashwin said: “I’m thrilled to be joining Yorkshire, a club with a wonderful history and a fantastic fan base. I think our team looks extremely talented with some superb pace bowlers and exciting batsmen. Hopefully my role as the spinner will be a key feature in helping the team achieve success.
Headingley has always been a fantastic venue to play at. People speak about the overhead conditions playing a big part so let’s hope for plenty of sun.Ravi Ashwin
“Headingley has always been a fantastic venue to play at. People speak about the overhead conditions playing a big part so let’s hope for plenty of sun.
“I love playing First-Class cricket and have enjoyed my two previous spells with Worcestershire and Nottinghamshire.
“My role will be to score runs and take wickets but it will be a collective effort if we are to win the title.
“I feel I have been consistent over a long period of time which has helped my success for India.
“I’m a deep thinker about the game and bowling in particular and will be researching my opponents carefully to ensure I have the edge.”
Ashwin has played in 70 Tests for India, taking 362 wickets, and is regarding as one of the best spin bowlers that India has produced. The Chennai-born all-rounder is his nation’s fourth-highest wicket taker and took 564 wickets across all three forms of international cricket last decade – the most of any player.
He made his Test debut in 2011 against the West Indies and claimed two five-wicket hauls and a century of runs.
The off-spinner won the Cricket World Cup in the same year and has taken a total of 27 five-wicket hauls since his first Test appearance nine years ago.
He is someone that Yorkshire have had on their radar “for a while,” and first-team coach Andrew Gale said: “With Kesh (Keshav Maharaj) doing so well last year, it shows the importance of having a spinner who can attack and defend.
“He can contribute with the bat as well. Ashwin ticks every box, he did well for Notts in a team that was underachieving with both bat and ball.
“To get a guy of his experience in and around the group will be great for us.
“His record says he performs well in England, he’s done well for Worcester and has done well for India in England as well.
“He’s got masses of experience and has done well wherever he’s gone across the world and, like I say, he can attack and defend so will give us nice control in the first innings and then second innings he will come into his own.
“You’ve always got an eye on what you need to bring in to the team to be successful and that spin option was something we wanted to look at.”
Gale continued: “Ashwin is available for the rest of the season after the IPL. Short-term signings haven’t worked, we want someone who can come in for a longer period of time who can make an influence.
“When Ashwin became available we put a lot of work into showing him what we’re all about at Headingley, what direction we’re going in as a group and he was happy to get involved.
“He has to have seven days off when he finishes in the IPL, whether that be the final or before, but after that he’s available for the rest of the season for Championship cricket.
“He can’t play any T20, but my understanding is that he’s going to be around during the 50-over competition both as a mentor and a coach and so he’s going to help the young spinners but he’ll play the rest of the season in Championship cricket.”