“You can’t say that Ashwin is a villain,” the Indian all-rounder insisted in his first interview since the storm erupted after he ran out Buttler at the non-striker’s end in an Indian Premier League game last month.
The Kings XI Punjab skipper has been at the centre of a major cricket controversy for using the ploy made famous by India player Vinoo Mankad in 1947. Mankading, as it has become known, is legal but frowned upon by purists unless the batsman has been warned.
Ashwin, who seemed to have waited for Buttler to leave his crease before clipping off the bails, insisted his “conscience was clear” over the March 25 incident.
“People can say that they believe it is right or wrong, that is their opinion, but you can’t say that Ashwin is a villain. That is not in my character,” Ashwin told the India Today television channel late Thursday.
“There is nothing to defend. It was instinctive. I didn’t plan to wait for Buttler to go out and I will hit (the bails). He had done that four or five times,” Ashwin said.
“It is in the rules if the batsman goes out of his crease then you can whip the bails off. Nobody told the batsman to stay in the crease, but it his responsibility to stay inside the crease.
“And most importantly my conscience was clear. People who know me well, know that I will never do anything illegal.”
Cricketers and pundits have criticised Ashwin. Even the MCC, the arbiter of cricket laws, released a statement saying that if Ashwin had deliberately waited for Buttler to be out of his crease that would be “unfair”.
A video of England paceman James Anderson putting an image of Ashwin through a shredder has gone viral on the internet but the Indian off-spinner is not bothered.
“Today Jimmy Anderson might feel that whatever I did was wrong. Maybe, tomorrow he might end up doing (Mankading) it,” he said.
“Who knows, it is all a question of perception of right and wrong. I don’t think in this case it is necessary because it is within the law.”
Buttler, who walked back to the dressing room after a heated exchange with Ashwin, still feels aggrieved.
“I think if you look at the footage, probably the wrong decision was made because at the time he was expected to release the ball I was in my crease,” Buttler told Britain’s Daily Mirror newspaper.
“At the time, I was really disappointed with it. I didn’t like the style of it,” added Buttler, who was also a victim of the rare dismissal at the hands of Sri Lanka’s Sachithra Senanayake while playing for England at Edgbaston in 2014.