The constant search for excellence has pushed R Ashwin to new heights but by his own admission, it has also been "incredibly draining".
Ashwin, the world's number one Test bowler, put the disappointment of being dropped from the World Test Championship final with a 33rd five-wicket haul in the first Test against the West Indies here on Wednesday.
The 36-year-old also became the third Indian to reach the 700-wicket milestone in international cricket and is only behind Harbhajan Singh (707 wickets) and Anil Kumble (953) in the all-time list.
After the close of play on day one, the wily off-spinner, who also thinks deeply about the game, was asked about his long journey in international cricket and the ups and downs along the way, including the recent exclusion from the WTC final against Australia.
"There is no cricketer or human being in this world that has gone through the highs without the lows. When you have the lows, it gives you two choices, either you sulk or talk about it and then complain about it and go along with it and go down. Or you learn from it. So I'm someone who's constantly learnt from my lows.
"In fact the best thing that'll happen today after this good day that I've had is that I'll have a good meal, have a good conversation, talk to my family and go to bed and then forget about it.
"When you've had a good day, you know you've had a good day but there are areas you can work on and get better for tomorrow. This constant search for excellence has held me in good stead all the time, but it's also been incredibly draining.
"It's not a journey that's been very easy. For me, the journey has been draining, but I'm very thankful for all the lows because without the lows there are no highs," said Ashwin in the post day media interaction.
Very tough as a cricketer to be sitting out of WTC final
Considering the overcast conditions at The Oval last month, India made the tough call of leaving out Ashwin from the playing eleven for an extra pacer. The decision was widely debated before India came up short in their second successive WTC final.
Ashwin was naturally disappointed.
"I've spoken about it. It's very tough as a cricketer when you have a shot at the WTC final and end up sitting out. But what is the difference between me and another person if I also end up sulking in the dressing room.
"When we went to the WTC final, I was mentally prepared to play. I had prepared physically and mentally, planned for the game, everything. But, I was also prepared to not play the game.
"If I'm not playing, how do I respond? How do I make sure the dressing room is really up and about. Winning the WTC final is the most important thing, it could be a very high point in my career and I would have played a good role in it. It was just unfortunate, it didn't pan out. The first day just left us too much behind in the shed.
"All I'd like to give to my teammates and Indian cricket as a whole is some understanding and my best efforts on the field and I'd like to leave it at that," he said.
It is not about wickets or runs, it is about the memories
Ashwin is at the peak of his powers 14 years into international cricket but, looking back, he is amazed how the time has flown by. He is at a stage where making memories is more important than getting wickets for the team.
"It's been literally 14 years on the go and if you include IPL also, it's been almost a 15-16 years journey. It's just gone like that. All I would tell anybody is... the first time I met Rahul Dravid as a coach, he made this statement: 'It's not about how many wickets you take, how many runs you score. You'll forget about all of them. It is only the great memories you create as a team that'll stick with you.'
"I'm totally behind that. I don't know if he's brainwashed me to do that. From my point of view, I definitely think that this journey has gone so fast that I'm not even able to recollect what has happened, and how it has gone through.
"I've got a lot of gratitude and I'm very grateful for the journey and what the game has given to me. I don't know how many more such moments will come to me, but whatever comes my way, I'll try to enjoy it completely."
The COVID-19 pandemic also changed his outlook towards life and the game.
"After Covid when cricket began again, I promised myself that I'll enjoy whatever happens... whether I'm playing, getting dropped or if I'm retiring. Whatever happens, I will enjoy it," he said.
Enjoyed the bounce on offer
Ashwin, who was introduced into the attack as early as the ninth over, made full use of the bounce on offer at Windsor Park. The West Indies batters offered little resistance and Ashwin was too good for them.
"There was some bounce from the wicket, especially from the pavilion end. The wicket had some slope also which gave us bounce. But we utilised the first session very well. The wicket had some moisture and it was coming off it very well.
"As you saw, they showed a graphic that it was turning more (in the second session), but the turn was very slow. But in the first session, there was bounce, and pace off was good, there was bite. We utilised it very well," he added.
(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)