Cape Town - India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has expressed the belief that success at the highest level of the game is largely down to one's attitude.
Ashwin has taken 231 wickets in 41 Test matches at an average of just under 25 including an incredible 22 five wicket hauls and is currently the number one ranked bowler in Test cricket.
In an interview with All Out Cricket, Ashwin said: “I would say attitude is about 90 percent.
“Talent is probably two percent. And method is the rest. I was a talented cricketer coming through the ranks, but since getting into club cricket and then first-class cricket, only method started fetching me results. I think method, and more importantly attitude, is everything."
The prolific tweaker credits his mum with giving him a fighting spirit and never say die attitude.
Ashwin added: “I think my attitude comes a lot from my mother, in terms of fighting and trying to be excellent.
“Trying to explore different things... that comes from my mother. Right from childhood, she’s been a pillar of support. My dad’s been the one who came along with me to cricket grounds and watched all my games.
"But the attitude comes from my mother telling me a lot of her own stories and experiences from corporate life.
“I’ve probably taken it to another level. I know in certain instances, I am mad. It could sound atrocious to a lot of people when they first listen to me.
"But my experiences as an international cricket and IPL player, from about 2008, have taught me a completely new dimension. I’ve got nothing easy.
"I had to wait in the wings to get a chance. When you get a couple of games a year in your first two years in international cricket, that can be incredibly hard. But I’ve come through that grind.”
Ashwin is a meticulous planner and it shows in the way he is able to work batsmen out, the spinner has told how being dropped after a drawn Test in South Africa where he bowled 36 overs without taking a wicket spurred him on to plan and prepare in the best possible way.
The spinner said: "I was never one of those loose characters who didn’t prepare well for a game.
“I had my own routines and I wouldn’t act irresponsibly before a Test match. But I plan for a game much better now, in terms of what time I have my dinner, what time I’m in bed.
"If I want to watch a movie or a show before a game, it will be at 20:30 so that I can try to sleep by 21:30. Those are the disciplines I’ve inculcated. I’ve always been a big watcher of opposition videos, but the mental preparation has become a lot more disciplined.
Ashwin opened up on how he came to master his craft and admitted that he is still working on his game and looking to improve all the time.
He went on: “In terms of skills, I just tried everything. Leg-spin, top-spin, off-spin - a bit of a jack of all trades, to try and understand what goes into being a good, solid off-break bowler all around the world.
"The answer I got was very clear: I needed to do something in the air. It wasn’t that I didn’t have anything in the air. I used to get drift or dip, but how do you get it consistently, and vary your pace as well?
"The first thing I did was get extremely fit, as fit as I could be as an individual. That helped me to get my body behind the ball, to mask the speed variations I had at the crease.
“Before, if I had to slow the ball down, it was much more visible to the batsman. Now, when I’m fitter and putting more body into the ball, the difference in speed variation is that much more subtle.
"When you can do that with a lot of control, you can also play around with your lengths. It’s a different ball game. You start enjoying your skills much more than before. Before, it was about getting the batsman out. Now, there’s more joy in the way I bowl.”
India's spin king is really enjoying his cricket at the moment and his match winning displays with bat and ball not only bring him pleasure but also thrill fans of Indian cricket and neutrals alike.
Ashwin said: "Before, it was about getting the batsman out. Now, there’s more joy in the way I bowl. The one thing he didn’t do was become bitter and disillusioned.
"My motto in life is that you either succeed at your own pace or you fail on your own terms.
“When I finish my career, I should feel that I have done whatever I had to do. I’ve seen people from many walks of life who just sit back and blame somebody else for what they didn’t do.
"But that’s unfortunate because you’re not able to make choices for yourself. That only leads to regrets later on in life. I did go through this disappointment, and I was quite vocal about it. It could have been unfair to me.
“When I look back, that’s probably how I will see it. But the fact remains that it spurred me on in terms of telling me: listen, some people could be lucky in terms of getting three chances or five or six. Mine is just one.
"Even today, when I could rest on my laurels, I firmly believe that the chance I have is one single Test. That doesn’t mean somebody is favouring someone else, it just means that’s the requirement of the team.
"He is needed more than I am at a particular time. I don’t have the choice of going back and complaining, so I’d better give it my all on the field.”
Ashwin is an obsessive watcher of videos but he never watches himself bowl, instead he remains focused on his opponents.
The spinner continued: “I know a lot of cricketers who watch their own videos.
“I don’t watch my videos at all. It’s very often videos of Michael Clarke, or videos of AB de Villiers, or Faf du Plessis. I’m bowling to them. Why should I be watching myself?
"Unless I feel my rhythm is not right. Then, it’s only a matter of time before I realise what’s wrong. Even when I’m bowling and it’s not coming out right, I know the four or five factors that might be responsible.
"I’ll address one at a time and try and rectify it. Till today, I haven’t watched one of my (four Test) hundreds on TV either.”
The number one Test bowler paid tribute to current opponents England but expressed confidence in India's ability to best them: “England are a very good Test side.
“You want good Test cricket to happen. I’m sure it’s going to be an intense five-Test series. We did reasonably well in a couple of Tests in England (in 2014) and then petered out.
"As far as I’m concerned, 2012 was a learning experience. I’ve been able to rectify a lot of the mistakes I made then, and I don’t think I’ll be under any additional pressure because of what happened then.
“They have some quality cricketers. We are a young side and will need to punch well above our weight. This time, though, England will be up against a much better, rounded Indian side. There was a lot of transition happening then.
"Maybe the abilities are not the same - that dressing room had a lot of serious ability. But this one has a lot of characters, and it’s going to take a lot to beat us.”