The Test series starts on August 1 at Edgbaston, and Ashwin has said that he hopes to emerge from the series an improved player, with an added layer of skill sets.
When India last toured England in 2014, the inexperienced side were defeated 3-1 in the five-match Test series, and though the visitors bounced back to win the one-day internationals by the same margin, the impression that prevailed was that India’s batsmen couldn’t cope with the moving ball in England’s seaming conditions.
So it is that there are plenty of records for the No.1-ranked Test side to set straight this time around when the teams lock horns.
Ashwin, No.5 in the ICC Test Player Rankings for bowlers, played only two Tests in the 2014 series and picked up just three wickets. All of them in the second innings at The Oval.
However, he has since focused on acclimatising to English conditions, and had a stint with Worcestershire in 2017 when he picked up 20 wickets in just four matches, at an average of 29.15 and an economy rate of 3.16. He also averaged 42.80 with the bat.
His love for England is all too evident. “I know England really well,” he said. “It's a lovely place and I enjoy going to England. I look forward to going there and enjoying playing cricket there.”
Ashwin, 31, has a decent record with both bat and ball against England on the whole, with 45 wickets and 655 runs in 11 Tests. There has been talk of him returning to Worcestershire ahead of the upcoming series too.
“You don't get so many opportunities to do that in the current, very jigsaw-puzzled schedule that international cricket has,” Ashwin pointed out. "But for me, it is all about going there, understanding situations and trying to react to different situations.
“I want to try and use all my experience over the years that I have played Test cricket for, and make it for the best use, make sure that I give my best there, and come out as another cricketer who has learned as much as it is possible to learn from other tours.”
The upcoming series is already being billed as the biggest test for the No.1 Test side.
India came away from their recent tour of South Africa with heads held high despite losing the three-match Test series 2-1. That was largely because of their triumph in the final Test in Johannesburg, and especially because it came on minefield of a pitch.
India followed that up with 5-1 and 2-1 victories in the one-day internationals and Twenty20 Internationals respectively, all of which gives cause for Ashwin to be confident.
"We know we are a good team. It is all about responding to the situations that are thrown at us," he said. "Sometimes I feel we overcook ourselves, overprepare ourselves. It is very important to stay in the moment and react to it.
“What also will be crucial is how well we adapt and acclimatise earlier on in the series. But once we do, that it is all about responding to the situations and having that belief that you can retaliate at any point of time. In long Test series we are going to commit mistakes, and likewise, we are going to expect the opposition to commit mistakes.”
However, on Tuesday, 17 July, India lost the ODI series to England 2-1, although they did secure the T20I series by the same margin earlier in the tour.
They will now play a four-day warm-up match against Essex from 25 July before the Test series.
First Published: July 19, 2018, 8:39 AM IST