Wilkinson will be reunited with England's number 10 shirt at Twickenham on Saturday, more than three years and exactly 30 Tests since he last wore it.
England have lost their way in his absence, suffering 18 defeats, including a demoralising run of seven successive reversals in 2006.
Ashton has been accused in some quarters of taking a huge gamble on England's 2003 World Cup final match-winner, who has barely started 20 games for his club Newcastle during the past 38 months.
And while Wilkinson is looking forward to putting a catalogue of injuries and illness behind him, Ashton has no doubt the right call has been made.
Ashton said: "It is a logical selection for where English rugby is at the moment.
"I've been his mentor this season. I have seen him play four games, and every game he has played better than the last.
"He is a much better player now than in the 2003 World Cup final. His game understanding and his intelligence is at a higher level."
Wilkinson's 53rd England cap will arrive more than 1,100 days after the 52nd, but he appears fitter and hungrier than ever before.
"The game has changed a bit since I have been out, and I've seen a lot of rugby from up in the stand," Wilkinson said.
"It is a lot easier to see things watching from there, and it has given me a lot more empathy with the players.
"There is no difference in my approach mentally and physically from 2003. But I am a different player. I would hate to say I was the same player as three years ago.
"With age, I have gained a greater level of composure, and I see things and play the game more simply.
"What is important is to give it everything. It is that pride thing. It doesn't bother me what people write about me. I am trying to build 'part two' as a different person."