Ravichandran Ashwin has credited his time with Nottinghamshire as key to his successful return to the Test arena, after he picked up his 27th five-wicket haul in India’s convincing win over Sri Lanka.
Ashwin, who became the joint-fastest man to 350 Test wickets with his performance in Visakhapatnam, took 34 wickets in five County Championship appearances for Notts over the summer after missing out on a place in India’s Cricket World Cup squad.
“To stay away from playing cricket is very tough for me,” he said.
“In order to substitute that, I played whatever games I got. I tried and made an opportunity for myself to go and play some county cricket. I tried and played the TNPL (Tamil Nadu Premier League) as much as I could, played some league cricket in Chennai.
"It was very important for me to tick those numbers off because that is essentially where I came from. It was probably the best thing that could have happened for me."
The 33-year-old has moved back into the top ten of the ICC’s Test bowler rankings as a result of the performance, but he insists that his love for the game is strong regardless of the format.
“It is always special for India. There is nothing like picking up a five-wicket haul for your country. This place is very special for me,” he said.
"But I enjoyed a five-wicket haul for Nottinghamshire too. One is not too lesser than the other.
“For me, it is about playing the game. I've realised that the joy of the game has to be back in my heart. I've made sure that I can enjoy the game wherever I go and play.”
While relishing his time on the field, the off-spinner has made sure find sanctuary in other interests when away from the game.
"I've literally stopped reading about the game like I used to do in the past. As much as you want to know stuff, you want to watch the game, there was a phase where I actually stopped watching cricket for a brief period. I just wanted to play."
"My life has been all about cricket for the last 23, 24, 25 [years], I don't know exactly.
“I thought my life, my family, my friends, everybody deserved a little bit more of my time, so I tried to spend a lot more time away from the game, tried to develop other interests — reading books, a bit of archaeology.
"I really found that whenever I stepped back on the park, it was a much happier time for me.
“I didn't fret too much about thinking about the game or watching the game a lot, but whenever I went into the game I prepared to the best of my abilities."
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