India in England 2018 August 11, 2017

Ashwin could lead India influx for county stints

R Ashwin is among the India players who could benefit from a stint in county cricket ahead of next year's Test tour © Associated Press

R Ashwin is among the India players who could be appearing in the County Championship before the end of the season, if the first-class counties have their way.

ESPNcricinfo understands that Ashwin is one of those who have been identified as an ideal candidate by Worcestershire with a view to playing the last few weeks of the English season. The club's director of cricket, Steve Rhodes, confirmed that Ravindra Jadeja is also of interest. Other first-class counties are understood to be exploring their options, too.

While recruiting current India players has, with one or two exceptions, proved difficult in recent years, Virat Kohli's declaration that he "would love" to play county cricket ahead of the 2018 tour by India to England may have signalled a change of approach.

Although the India schedule remains daunting and the BCCI will be careful not to exhaust their players, there is a growing appreciation of the benefits of playing in different conditions and a sense that such experience might help ahead of next year's Test tour.

India's tour of Sri Lanka is scheduled to finish on September 6, meaning their players could potentially be available for the final three rounds of the County Championship season. There is also, however, the prospect of an ODI series against Australia in September-October, although those dates have not yet been finalised.

Worcestershire, who are currently battling for promotion from the second division, are the club where Zaheer Khan played and recovered his best form in 2006.

With little obvious room in the schedule for any of the players to appear in county cricket at the start of 2018, it remains possible that a county could attempt to sign one of the India batsmen - perhaps even Kohli - before the end of this season, too.

Cheteshwar Pujara recently finished a short-term stint with Nottinghamshire, on that included a matchwinning hundred in an innings win against Gloucestershire. With Notts pressing for an immediate return to Division One, Mick Newell, the club's director of cricket, confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that they are interested in securing his services for the final weeks of the season.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo