Adil Rashid Selection Is An Insult

Those who have listened to TMS over the years (and read the Economist) might have a solid insight into the mind of Ed Smith. I’ll tell you what I gleaned. I saw someone who was articulate, intelligent, but somewhat enamoured with what I can only describe as ‘thinking differently’.

Clever people like to think differently. It makes them feel cleverer than everyone else – in a completely innocent and very human way of course. Consequently, although I initially enjoyed listening to Ed, I ultimately began to see him as a contrarian. He was someone who liked to think outside the box. And he was someone who very much liked to present himself as someone who thought outside the box too.

This wasn’t a problem when he was on the radio of course. It made for some great discussion. It livened up the debate and challenged the listener to look at certain aspects of the game through a different lens. Unfortunately, however, good selectors tend to keep things simple and not overthink.

By picking Adil Rashid for the first test against India, Ed Smith has tried to be clever but ended up doing something very stupid. He’s been impressed by Adil’s white ball form, convinced himself that he’s watching the real deal, and forgotten all the obvious things that someone in his position should never, ever, forget.

Smith has basically forgotten who Adil Rashid is. He’s the leg-spinner who turned his back on red ball cricket a few months ago. He’s the leg-spinner who has reportedly fallen out with his county. And he’s the Adil Rashid who declined to play in the Roses championship game this week, even though most England players were available for the last round of matches.

Crucially, he’s also the Adil Rashid who had been identified by the previous management as being somewhat complex and mentally frail. So how on earth is he going to deal with the extra pressure after being picked in such controversial circumstances? I bet Smith didn’t think of that.

But good old Ed doesn’t do orthodox. He doesn’t like to contemplate the bleedin’ obvious. He prefers to do funky. He prefers to do clever. And he prefers to do the contrarian thing. Not picking Rashid would have been oh so predictable. And who wants to do things that don’t raise a single eyebrow?

Unfortunately, however, doing the sensible thing – indeed doing the right thing – doesn’t actually require a great intellect. In fact, great intellect can sometimes be an obstacle to common sense. And that, I fear, is exactly what’s happened here.

And so, Adil Rashid, the man some claim may be joining Worcestershire next season on a white-ball only contract, has found himself back in the test squad. Even though he hasn’t played a championship match for donkey’s years. Meanwhile, one of the darlings of the Pakistan series, Dom Bess, has been harshly jettisoned, and the best slow bowler in the country, Jack Leach (who was the man in possession until he got injured in May) has been cruelly ignored.

I wonder if, even for a second, Smith contemplated the damage he was doing to the county championship when he recalled Rashid. It’s an insult to be honest and many people across the shires will be livid. It’s like recalling Jos Buttler but worse. At least Buttler still plays championship cricket for Lancs when available. And, so we hear, he’d never abandoned hope of a test recall.

What’s more, Jos Buttler is supremely talented. His potential was perhaps worth taking a punt on – even if many, including myself, disagreed with the decision to pick him at the time. Unfortunately, Adil Rashid is not supremely talented. He’s a decent leggie, a good leggie even, but that is all. And his ceiling is nowhere near as high as Buttler’s. He takes his first class wickets at an average of 35. Leach takes his at an average of 27. And the Somerset man is three years younger.

No doubt many will defend this selection. They’ll argue that Ed Smith is being clever by ignoring all the background noise and simply picking the best XI available. The problem is that I don’t think he’s doing that. Rashid does a good job in ODIs because he can concede 5 or 6 runs per over and it doesn’t cause a problem. And he can have plenty of men back on the fence to cut off the boundaries when he bowls a long hop every couple of overs. Unfortunately, spinners in test cricket have to provide control. Which is why Moeen Ali was originally dropped …

Talking of Moeen, he too has been recalled. Why? Because apparently he’s got his mojo back after bowling well in the ODIs. Once again Smith is making a mistake. Moeen has always, always, been a good white ball bowler. He keeps his cool and does his job when the pyrotechnics are going off around him. What he is not, and probably never will be, is a test class spinner. And his ODI form is usually irrelevant when it comes to his test performances.

Time and again Mo has performed well at home but let England down badly abroad. And it wasn’t just in the winter’s Ashes either. He has performed badly every single time England have gone away. That’s why I thought it was sensible for England to move on from Moeen. I wanted us to find a spinner who could take wickets overseas. After all, this is absolutely crucial if we want to climb the world rankings and enjoy success in places like the subcontinent. Instead, clever Ed is obviously only thinking about winning the next game – a surprisingly banal strategy for him.

And so, after moving on from Rashid and Mo after England last played in India, England have come full circle. The same two guys who weren’t good enough before are suddenly deemed good enough now. And the quest to find a top class spinner who can finally replace Graeme Swann has been postponed. It simply doesn’t make any sense unless you look at the world through Smith’s eyes.

One player named in the squad, however, who does deserve his spot is Essex’s Jamie Porter. I know he isn’t quick. And yes there’s every chance he’ll look toothless if the pitches are flat and Pujara gets his head down. However, Porter has taken 250 first class wickets at a excellent average of 24. He deserves the chance to show whether his accuracy and skill can compensate for his lack of firepower.

The inclusion of Sam Curran, on other hand, is as bemusing as the selection of Rashid. Chris Woakes must feel sick as a parrot. Why is it that Moeen Ali’s poor record overseas doesn’t count but Chris Woakes’s does? If England wanted a seam bowler to win the next game then surely the Warwickshire man was it. Plus some might argue that Woakes’s batting is better than some of the so called specialist batsmen England have picked over the years.

I guess, when it comes to English cricket, there’s no rhyme, no reason, and just the one long-term trend: the steady undermining of the championship. Oh, and I forgot to mention the corrosive presence of egos bigger than the Lord’s grandstand.

James Morgan


2018-07-28T07:27:45+00:00July 26th, 2018|Eng v Ind 2018, Test Cricket|66 Comments


  1. Steve Terry July 26, 2018 at 4:54 pm - Reply

    Point taken. However Lea ch and Bess are not prodigious turners and do not bowl, as far as I know, googlies.
    They would never worry top class Indian batsmen.
    We need to search for young leggies and give them a chance if Rashid does not take his chance

    • James Morgan July 26, 2018 at 5:03 pm - Reply

      Graeme Swann didn’t have a googlie. Nor did Panesar. But Ian Salisbury did. Rank the 3 bowlers in order of how effective they were in test cricket 🙂

  2. Jomesy July 26, 2018 at 5:15 pm - Reply

    Sorry. I have to disagree with this. I’m also surprised. Rashid was treated terribly last time round and, to my mind at least, deserves another chance.

    That you raised the mentally weak stuff is very disappointing, James.

    • James Morgan July 26, 2018 at 5:19 pm - Reply

      I agree that Rashid was treated badly. But why should that mean he deserves a chance now when he’s played no red ball cricket for a year?

      I don’t think it’s a low blow to mention the mental frailty thing. It has been well reported (including in David Hopps excellent piece criticising Rashid’s recall) and it’s surely a genuine concern. If the reason he was dropped was his character, it doesn’t make sense to pick him now when he’ll be under even greater scrutiny. Cricket is a mental game at the highest level and it has been well reported that Adil is a complex character. We surely can’t ignore this? Why should Rashid be spared this analysis when so many other players have their character / resolve analysed? Even Ian Bell used to get it.

      • John July 26, 2018 at 5:47 pm - Reply

        I agree entirely.

      • James July 26, 2018 at 6:10 pm - Reply

        I’ll admit that I was one of those who had (and retain) doubts about Ian Bell’s character. Too many soft dismissals in the 30’s about 10 minutes before lunch or tea. Too many hundreds only when others had done the hard yards.
        As regards Rashid, I don’t think I can criticise him for wanting to play test cricket again (I’ve no doubt Yorkshire folk will think otherwise), and to play a home test for the first time, though it would have been sensible for him to have played the Roses match, if only as a warm up. The problem lies with the ECB in general (moving the championship to the margins of the summer has stopped the development of young spinners), and Ed Smith in particular. The other issue I have is that the pick seems to be based on white ball cricket, which is a very different game to test cricket (ask Sunil Narine).
        I think that moving of the Championship has also played to Jamie Porter’s strengths. I really don’t see him getting test wickets on a flat pitch (at least this pick doesn’t ignore the championship).
        I’ve always seen Chris Woakes as the natural long term successor to James Anderson (except that Woakes can bat). He won’t develop the necessary skills outside the England team, and it makes no sense to leave him out if he’s fit. Sam Curran isn’t an improvement.

      • Jomesy July 26, 2018 at 7:09 pm - Reply

        Ok James – I know you’re a good chap but I have strong feelings on this. So how do you measure mental frailty? Thereafter, where does Rashid sit on that evidential scale. Where do I? Today? Tomorrow? It’s crap.

        I have no time for Ed Smith (he’s a charlatan) but this “mental weakness” stiff needs to be consigned to history.

        Equally, you cannot say in defence that Ian Bell had question marks over it. That was wrong. It’s just as wrong now.

        Fact: you cannot measure mental weakness.

      • Nigel July 26, 2018 at 7:21 pm - Reply

        I agree that Rashid was treated poorly by England in the past – and this decision if anything makes that worse. Unless his selection proves a remarkable success, and the odds must be rather against that, it is setting him up for disappointment and criticism which will dog him for years.

        It’s a gamble that Smith will probably shrug off if it goes wrong; Rashid probably won’t have that luxury. I hope Rashid can confound the critics, though.

  3. James July 26, 2018 at 5:26 pm - Reply

    I strongly suspect Adil Rashid was “encouraged” to sign white ball only contracts by the ECB, which (at the time) only wanted him for limited overs games. This makes his selection now even odder, but possibly less of an insult. I don’t agree about Jamie Porter: I think he’ll be a new James Patterson. I’m actually quite pleased to see Moeen back in the England set up. I think he bowls well in England, and his batting means he can be a useful second spinner (after who?) overseas.

    Btw please remind me. Which England bowler has a good record overseas?

  4. Down at Third Man July 26, 2018 at 5:29 pm - Reply

    At the risk of coming across as all contrarian, perhaps this sentence provides the clue: “Adil Rashid who had been identified by the previous management as being somewhat complex and mentally frail.”

    The previous management had a downer on Rashid – like a few other decent cricketers who they judged not to have their definition of the ‘right stuff’. The way he was treated especially with regard to Mason Crane might have made any a 28-30 year old think about how best to use (as a professional) his remaining years as a cricketer. And why do we want to expose a mystery bowler to unnecessary exposure.

    Rashid has never had the chance to play in a side/with a captain or a manager or a Director of Talent (or whatever Flower is now allowing himself to be called) who really rated him. Yet he clearly is respected by the best international cricketers. Sangakkara was especially fulsome in his praise the other day when commenting on the ODI.

    As for Swann he did challenge both sides of the bat. Bess was really no great shakes and, perhaps Leach has been harshly done by, but I am not sure that Chris Rogers would have picked him and he’s the best judge of Leach.

    At a guess Rashid is the only spinner India’s top order might respect. And with a longish tail what better bowler to have to torment them than a wrist spinner who even their top order can’t read.

    • James Morgan July 26, 2018 at 5:45 pm - Reply

      All that makes good sense. And had Rashid not retired from red ball cricket, and had been turning out for Yorkshire in the championship this year, then I think one could make a very strong case for his recall. He is, after all, a decent bowler. But we surely can’t ignore the fact that he did retire from first class cricket. And he hasn’t played a red ball game for yonks. His selection therefore sends out all the wrong messages. And it’s not even good cricket sense. A spinner might have to bowl 20+ overs in a day, and keep it tight in a test match. Rashid hasn’t done this for a long, long, time.

  5. Pete Cresswell July 26, 2018 at 5:44 pm - Reply

    I’m a Kiwi rugby fan. It’s pretty much a given for us that once a player’s no longer being regularly selected for the All Blacks that he’s got a choice

    a) carry on playing domestic rugby in NZ, on a reasonable wage, helping out his domestic team. Or
    b) recognise that you’re a long time retired, and have a family to support, so opt for a big money (at least double the dosh) contract playing rugby in Europe or Japan – the rugby’s a bit less intense (granted in France it’s a bigger slog) and you can put away a decent nest egg.
    c) as the seasons only have partial overlap, take a nice fat contract in Japan while still playing some rugby in NZ

    And while us Kiwis wish it wasn’t the case that the bigger money is elsewhere, we tend not to begrudge the players their retirement packages.

    In the past some players have come back from Europe/Japan and made it back into the All Blacks via NZ domestic rugby (note, you can only play for the All Blacks if you’re playing domestic in NZ – our way of hanging onto players a bit longer). Granted most aren’t terribly successful on the 2nd crack

    Rashid was on the outer with England in tests, and into the 2nd half of his pro career. He reduced his Yorkshire commitments so he could earn more money on the T20 circuit as a white ball specialist.

    Now he’s been brought back by the new selectors, and been told it’s a one-off due to the lack of time bowling by Leach/Bess & to get a county red ball deal next year. Just like an All Black coming back to NZ after a stint in Europe. I’m not convinced he’ll be that successful. But at least it means you’re not risking an undercooked Leach being “Simon Kerriganed” by India …

    • Pete Cresswell July 26, 2018 at 5:45 pm - Reply

      And funnily enough I had no problem with Dan Vettori coming back after several years of no red ball cricket for one final test series hurrah in the UAE

  6. jennyah46 July 26, 2018 at 5:45 pm - Reply

    You have put your point across well. I have never taken to Ed Smith, he was always too full of himself and in the main I agree with you. It undermines and insults those who work at red ball, trying to improve their game, slogging around the county circuit come what may.

    I hope Rash takes the chance he has been given and he does well, but if so what happens from then on? Does he set the norm for all else to play only white ball cricket while being availablr for test selection? That would be so disrespectful of the County Championship and all of those involved in making it good.

    I wish him well but it he fails to adapt to the different demands of test cricket I hope that is the end of it. Hopefully a young county player will then be given his chance.

    • Elaine Simpson-Long July 29, 2018 at 7:20 am - Reply

      The thing is that the pressure upon him to come good is mou ting by the day and make him less likely to bowl well. I agree with both sides of the argument but feel everyone should now keep quiet and see what happens. The decision has been made.

  7. Paul July 26, 2018 at 5:55 pm - Reply

    While Rashid might bowl well in the coming test, I think the main problem is that it undermines the CC. Why would anyone bother busting their backs at the CC when they can simply play white ball cricket, make more money and still get an opportunity to play for the test team despite not playing red ball cricket? Rashid declined to play for Yorkshire in the recent Roses match at Old Trafford, so it’s not like he was actually pushing the selectors to pick him. The ECB really has opened a can of worms with this one.

  8. Simon H July 26, 2018 at 5:59 pm - Reply

    I’m kinda torn on this one, insofar as I care at all. Bess didn’t stand a chance of selection with all India’s RHBs so it was essentially between Rashid and Leach, two cricketers who’ve both had abysmal treatment from some in the ECB and their stooges in the press. If there are plenty who don’t rate Rashid, there seem to be more in the places that matter who feel the same about Leach. I don’t know if Leach is Test class, but I’d like to see him given a fair shot and I don’t feel he’s getting it. It lloks like they picked him only when forced to and have dropped him as soon as they could.

    I also can’t get that worked up about Rashid and the CC. He’s clearly fallen out with his county. He’s not the first and he won’t be the last. He also made his debut extremely young and has been playing a long time. He’s bowled 28k+ F/c deliveries. He’s also not the first to get tired of the treadmill – and unlike many players in the past, he has alternatives.

    Smith’s selection of Porter feels like an attempt to placate CC fans over the Rashid selection. He’ll be left out of the XI and Woakes recalled for the Second Test. That’s unless Edgbaston have been receiving some emails and, despite the weather, serve up a nice lovely seamer-friendly green-top.

    One ridiculous argument I’ve seen made on some threads is that Rashid has a “terrible” Test record. Those were two tough series Rashid was selected for and no England bowlers would be picked again on their figures in them (Moeen averaged 57.2 for example). He actually bowled pretty well in the first three Tests in India until he was ground down by his captain’s stupidity (especially one 27 over spell) and England’s general uselessness.

    Frankly it comes down to that the cupboard is pretty bare. Does one prefer the lump of cheese with the mold cut off or that slightly suspicious-looking sausage?

  9. Doug M July 26, 2018 at 6:41 pm - Reply

    The cupboard is bare for spinners and we all know whose fault that is. But nothing justifies this, it’s an insult to Yorkshire and all county cricketers. Rashid is an ok leggie, nothing more, who was at his best 5 years ago. If he plays I hope he goes all round the park. Appalling decision. It’ll be Hales next you watch.

    • Northern Light July 26, 2018 at 7:12 pm - Reply

      In my experience “not being from Yorkshire” is pretty much an insult to Yorkshire, at least as far as some people go.
      A lot of folk (not on here, to be fair) tell us that Andrew Gale hasn’t got much time for Rashid due to “attitude problems” but isn’t that the same Andrew Gale who picked up a ban for a couple of, er, what’s the polite way of putting this… “ethnically diverse insults” in the CC?
      That’s all irrelevant anyway. I’ve got a bit bored in recent years of the ECB picking players based on “attitude” “family” “school” “performance in management games/Army assault course war game” and “who’s mates with the skipper.” It’s about time the England team consisted of the 11 best players currently playing and qualified for England. Rashid may or may not be the best spinner we have – that is something people can argue about – but if he is one of the best he shouldn’t be barred from the Test team for making an eminently practical decision about his personal career at a time when the England set up clearly didn’t like him and senior players at his county went off him as well.
      The way the ECB “insults” the CC is by marginalising it in the calendar and telling everyone that nobody likes cricket any more. The way the ECB “insults” cricket lovers is marginalising good Test players for reasons other than their ability to help England win Test matches. So this doesn’t count as an “insult” in my book.

    • Jomesy July 26, 2018 at 7:20 pm - Reply

      The milk of human kindness never ceases to amaze. FWIW I think Hales should be in the test team. There’s a well of talent there which, if deployed properly, could make a huge impact on our prospects. But oh, he’s another unfashionable face within the ECB, so another genuine talent wasted.

  10. Julian Fainlight July 26, 2018 at 7:03 pm - Reply

    How moribund. Adil offered something different and England sort of tried and passed – for who? England found nothing different and how they tried, so they came back, even though he was happy plying white ball cricket.
    Did Yorkshire add a red ball clause in his white ball contract for emergencies, or happy to let the ‘bad character’ whither away?
    Don’t forget that the England coach prefers white ball and is allowed to work in red ball. Bet he would like the Irishman to come back to test cricket.

    Give Adil a chance.

  11. oreston July 26, 2018 at 8:11 pm - Reply

    Going to have to respectfully disagree with you on this one, James.

  12. Lord Ted July 26, 2018 at 10:17 pm - Reply

    Well, you can’t deny that the whole thing has been handled in a cackhanded manner, although I don’t disagree with the decision to select him, on purely cricketing grounds.

    I feel genuinely sorry for Yorkshire (never thought I’d hear myself say that) because they have had a particularly rough time of it this year, what with late call ups for the IPL & enforced unavailability of ECB centrally contracted players.

    Adil Rashid himself might have behaved in a more straightforward way & Martin Moxon has a point when he says that his (Rashid) head was “turned” by his discussions with Smith et al.

    All of that having been said England need a front line attacking spinner, preferably wrist & there aren’t many of those around in the English game; In that sense Adil Rashid is probably the closest thing we have.

    As for the outrage over the ECB’s “devaluation” of the County game; where have those suddenly making that claim been for the last few years? That is what they do & they are rather good at it!

  13. Marc Evans July 26, 2018 at 11:47 pm - Reply

    Think your obsession with Ed Smith is starting to impair your judgement James. A selection committee is in operation here, including Joe Root, a fellow Yorkshireman of Rashid’s. The Yorkshire committee has a reputation for upsetting players second to none, so don’t think most would see that as a reason to ignore a player for test selection. It’s hardly yonks since Rashid gave up on test cricket, for many understandably because he felt he was being ignored, but as has remained an integral part of the England set up with consistent white ball success and his reintroduction is understandable. He may not be world class, but he does offer a different slant, has a decent track record and experience of bowling against good test batsmen.
    In order to trouble Indian batsmen we need a front line spinner capable of and confident enough to attack batsmen. Don’t know why Dom Bess is so highly regarded as a spinner. He hardly looked threatening against Pakistan and though he batted well, that’s not what he was in the side for. Incidentally Rashid is his equal at least here. Haven’t seen much of Leach, but would Kohli and co. be worried by a good young county off spinner? I’d rather see him blooded against a lesser side in case he gets a tonking, whereas I feel that wouldn’t upset a more experienced campaigner like Rashid. If we’re looking to bowl India out on a day 5 pitch he has to be the better bet.
    The point I would agree with you on is the continued selection of Curran. It’s almost as though he’s being included as a ‘one for the future’ type, however ineffectual he looks at the moment. I’d rather see one of the Warwick quickies, however inexperienced, included. Either of them would give us a better attacking option.

    • James Morgan July 27, 2018 at 6:18 am - Reply

      It doesn’t matter who the chief selector is. I support the inclusion of Porter for example. However, I simply cannot support the inclusion of a bowler who has (a) retired from the format (and the mistreatment excuse doesn’t work for me because he’s turned his back on Yorkshire too and was reportedly seeking a white ball only contract with Worcs for next season), and (b) who hasn’t played a red ball game for a year. In other words he’s had no preparation.

      If we support Rashid’s selection on cricketing grounds we’re all effectively saying that first class cricket is no longer required preparation for test cricket. I just don’t see how that can be the case. ODI strategies and disciplines are very different.

      What’s more, we cannot have a bowler in the squad who actively refuses to play championship cricket. He was asked to play in the Roses match as much needed prep for the test but refused even though his England teammates all played. The fact England still picked him anyway is bizarre.

      • Smylers July 27, 2018 at 8:43 am - Reply

        Fair enough on whether Adil Rashid is the best player to pick in terms of trying to win this test match, or even on whether selection should be simply on the basis of winning the next test match.

        On the ‘moral’ issue, what do think of the point that even if he’d stuck with county cricket, with the schedule as it is, he wouldn’t have got much of a bowl anyway? https://www.kingcricket.co.uk/adil-rashids-back/2018/07/26/

        Pretty much everybody agrees it was a mistake for him to decline to play in the Roses match last week — but if you’ve decided you want somebody in your team for cricketing reasons, should you decline to pick them (and weaken your team) because of one poor judgement call? That line of thinking ultimately leads to Mickey Arthur’s homeworkgate

        And I can understand why somebody who feels generally underappreciated and messed around might stubbornly think ‘I’ve got a contract to do X; why should I have to do Y as well?’. Or even that breaking his contract sets some kind of precedent, risking undermining white-ball-only contracts in general. [Note, I’m not agreeing with Rashid’s decision, just saying I can see how in the circumstances he could end up making a poor choice.]

        Stating that next season all test players have to be available for county cricket is effectively “well I’ll let you off this once, but now I’ve clarified the rules you — and everybody else — have got no excuse next time”. That seems a reasonable compromise in the circumstances, given where we’ve already got to.

      • Marc Evans July 27, 2018 at 10:33 am - Reply

        I repeat, Joe Root is one of the selectors. If the players thought Rashid’s actions were that unpalatable they could have ignored him. They are evidently ok to play alongside him.
        Blame the whole committee, not just Smith, who’s modern middle management hype with ‘How to win friends and influence people’ at its core, no doubt gave a terrific ECB interview for his appointment. He is a product of his time with his trendy ‘New broom sweeps clean’ impact philosophy that you can only grow moving forward to new pastures. If you stand still you’re dying. Working with a few like that you can spot them a mile off. Anyone who’s been on a team building course will have come accross these ‘energized knobs’. You only have to watch the apprentice to see these creatures in their natural habitat.

        • Marc Evans July 27, 2018 at 10:47 am - Reply

          Saw a great article from the good ol’ US of A of all places, where you would expect them to embrace Ed Smith and his cronies. It included the following passage which I feel sums the type up in a nutshell; ‘…they peruse their tunnel visioned philosophies with religious fervour’.

          • James Morgan July 27, 2018 at 1:47 pm - Reply

            Yep. I think that line just about sums it up! Interestingly it has been reported that Joe Root had mixed feelings about Rashid’s recall. When interviewed, however, Ed Smith stressed that the captain was firmly in favour and it was a unanimous decision. The faces change but the BS is always the same!

  14. ANDREW CHEESE July 27, 2018 at 6:09 am - Reply

    I don’t think it matters who has what contract with whom. Ed’s job is to pick his choice of best players. Everybody is free to have their own opinion but it is his job.

    • James Morgan July 27, 2018 at 6:28 am - Reply

      Agreed to a point. But how can a bowler who hasn’t played a red ball game for a year be the best man for the job? People say Leach hasn’t had enough overs this year but he’s played 4 red ball games in the last month, and that’s 4 more games than Rashid has played.

      Morally I think picking Rashid is completely wrong. And practically I think it’s a highly contentious and debatable decision. That’s why I’m against it.

      • Marc Evans July 27, 2018 at 11:29 am - Reply

        He may not have played red ball for a while, but he has played recent international competitive matches against this team with some success. That has to be a huge advantage.
        The morale high ground is irrelevant if the players don’t see it as a problem.

        • James Morgan July 27, 2018 at 1:48 pm - Reply

          I’m sure a lot of the players have a problem with Rashid’s recall. But of course we won’t hear about this. Why should they have to slog their guts out on the county circuit to earn a place when Rashid has turned his back on all that, in the hope of securing more T20 contracts, and then gets picked anyway.

      • Marc Evans July 27, 2018 at 8:28 pm - Reply

        It’s not Rashid’s fault that the alternative players to him, however hard they may have ‘slogged their guts out on the county circuit’, have simply not done enough to impress the selectors.
        What evidence do you have that a lot of players have a problem with his recall? I don’t hear anything to that effect on social media, the usual outlet for disgruntled sportsmen with an axe to grind.
        The fact remains that Rashid has bowled enough against this Indian side to be judged a decent bet. Everyone else is a unchartered risk. Why take such an important one unnecessarily.
        I know it’s difficult to put principles aside for performance, but it’s the result that matters most in professional sport. I’m afraid it could be a case of the end justifying the means, not right or wrong.
        Rashid may not come off, but in cricketing terms he is clearly the man of the moment, as we need an attacking spinner to lead the line, not a containing one.

    • Doug M July 27, 2018 at 6:36 am - Reply

      Yeah, but he ain’t a very good player is he. Smith has picked him on the strength of one good ball that bowled Kohli in an ODI. He hasn’t played red ball cricket for ages. No doubt influenced by the money. Leach deserves a go, but the best spinner in the country is Virdi from Surrey. I’ve been watching him all season, he attacks and really gives the ball a rip. Yes actually spins it!
      What does this day for the county game?

      • Cricketcricketcricket July 28, 2018 at 8:00 am - Reply

        Was it even a good ball

        When you look at the shot and mentality kohli was using compare to what he would in a test. That same ball becomes a pie in test cricket.. why.. because the format requires more skill as the batter isn’t forced to hit out.

        Warnes ball was so good in many ways as it was in a test game, test setting, test mentalities and a batter not trying to hit it, Work it etc

  15. Northern Light July 27, 2018 at 6:46 am - Reply

    “If we support Rashid’s selection on cricketing grounds we’re all effectively saying that first class cricket is no longer required preparation for test cricket.”

    It’s this kind of all-or-nothing hyperbole that makes “debate” on the internet so tiring. And often so fruitless. Let’s examine Adil Rashid. Has he played a lot of 4-day first class cricket in his career? Yes. Has he played Test matches? Yes.(In fact he has more matches and wickets under his belt than Mike Selvey, who’s foaming at the mouth at this selection.) So he isn’t being picked having never played the longer formats of the game.
    Now, he hasn’t played any recently, that’s true. One could say the same of the universally acclaimed Jos Buttler, though. Sometimes it pays to think creatively.
    Does this set a precedent? Not really, it’s clearly a pretty individual situation. Do we think hundreds of players are now going to give up playing in the CC because they think they don’t have to do it to get into the Test team? Of course not.
    Is Rashid going to run through the Indian batting line up and emerge a hero? Very unlikely. But I fear that is the only way some people will stop sniping at him for his “frailty” and his “attitude.”
    Is this anywhere near being anything to do with “morals?” Well, I think that’s a bit of a stretch.

    • James Morgan July 27, 2018 at 8:53 am - Reply

      Northern Light. Remember all those times that England got whipped in test matches abroad and everyone said “they’re undercooked because they haven’t had enough practice games”? Basically it doesn’t matter whether a player has played 100 tests. The fact is that recent preparation is important and can’t be ignored. This is not hyperbole. It’s common sense.

      It’s very hard for a player to play his best if he’s out of practice. And, I think it’s fair to say, Adil Rashid is well undercooked. When was the last time he had to bowl out a side on the final day? When was the last time he had to give the captain a modicum of control while the seamers rotated? And when was the last time he had to bowl 20 overs in a day?

      I am not anti-Rashid by any means. I’ve written and tweeted several times that he was probably our best bowler when we last got thrashed in India. And I’ve written that he was unfairly treated by the selectors. However, I cannot support his inclusion now because (a) it is a slap in the face for the championship (which has been slapped in the face too much recently), and (b) I’m not sure that Rashid is even the best spinner available. My gut tells me all this is just Ed Smith attention seeking.

      • March Evans July 28, 2018 at 3:22 am - Reply

        Ever since the advent of central contracts established test players have played little county cricket, but get released for white ball knock abouts. It was a constant frustration as a Warwick supporter to see so little of Trott and Bell once they were established in the test team. Yet Amiss, a test regular in the 1970’s played most of the county games then and with distinction, despite his test commitments.
        As far back as 1981 I remember Willis playing almost no county games to protect his ailing knees from further damage before the tests. Yet he captained the John Player Sunday side that year and I seem to remember he did OK in that Ashes series. So there are plenty of presidents for this.
        Obviously young players have to make their mark in this format initially, but it seems the established players are not considered to need much red ball preparation as they play so much test cricket all the year round. Personally I would like to see less test cricket and more county games, but that’s not going to happen.

    • Marc Evans July 27, 2018 at 8:50 pm - Reply

      Well said Mr Light.
      If Rashid plays he will be there on cricketing merit. He’s an experienced red ball campaigner and a few months out of the game didn’t do a certain Mr Butler much harm, so there is a justifiable cricketing president for his recall. It is up to the players on the county circuit to impress the selectors.
      He’s bowled effectively against this present Indian line up and is clearly our best attacking spinner.
      Professional sport is about winning, where the end justifies the means comes before self righteous morality.
      Professional cricket history is full of morally dubious conduct from players, punters and administrators. Why single out Rashid for looking after his own interests as though he was responsible for slapping the county championship in the face. It is the lack of young talent that is responsible for this slap, not Rashid.

  16. Comte July 27, 2018 at 7:01 am - Reply

    It used to be the case that Yorkshire folks were rankled by the omission of their players. During my time as a Yorkshire member Phil Sharpe was in the squad for a Headingley Test but when it came to the crunch Keith Fletcher played instead and dropped the odd catch or two. That was a long time ago but I’m still angry.
    Unfortunately James, your piece is more of a tirade against Ed Smith than anything else.
    I’ve no problem with Rashid’s inclusion on the grounds that his recent record in international cricket has been pretty damn good. Sure it’s not the same as red ball but he has displayed skill and good temperament.
    The fact that Motormouth Vaughan has slammed the selection merely confirms that it’s right in my view. Rashid has responded to Vaughan’s comments, perhaps unwisely, but I don’t see why current players should have to put up with crap.

    By the way Mo Ali took 8 wickets in the CC game at New Road this week. Not that his batting was up to much.

  17. James July 27, 2018 at 8:18 am - Reply

    James, are you saying the selectors’ thinking was “Adilled”?

    • James Morgan July 27, 2018 at 8:54 am - Reply

      Ha ha!

  18. lionel joseph July 27, 2018 at 8:25 am - Reply

    I think you’re missing an analysis of Smith’s accompanying comment.

    “Adil fully understands that if he wishes to be eligible for Test cricket in the 2019 season, he must have a county contract to play four-day cricket. Moving forward, England Test players must be committed to the county championship”

    We should probably ask why Rashid decided to stop playing red ball cricket. Had he been told that his England test career was over by previous selectors?

    • James Morgan July 27, 2018 at 9:00 am - Reply

      Well the rumour is that Rashid has been seeking only white ball deals with counties for 2019. Let’s see if that changes now. And I can’t remember reading that Adil was told his test career was over. He effectively gave up on himself if I recall. Below are the quotes from Rashid himself:

      “It wasn’t an easy decision to make but it’s something I felt I had to do. If I was to go back to playing red ball early in the season, a bit inside me would have said ‘I’m just playing because I have to’ but I had to make that decision and say ‘no, I can’t just go through the motions’,” he said.

      “If I do just go through the motions, firstly I’d be letting the team down and I’d also be letting myself down because I wouldn’t be giving 100 per cent. I’ve made the decision, this summer, to just concentrate on white ball, something which makes me very happy and gives me the best chance of improving my cricket.”

      The article then goes on to discuss Rashid’s ambition to secure more T20 contracts around the world. It also talks about how dispirited Rashid became with his own performances in India. It’s pretty clear he lost confidence and just gave up to me. There are also quotes from Martyn Moxon bemoaning the decision to quit on Yorkshire and he said it was very much Adil’s decision.

  19. Simon H July 27, 2018 at 8:40 am - Reply

    One less explored aspect of this is it’s going to be an interesting examination of Root’s captaincy. Handling a spinner is probably the toughest part of the job for a new captain (Smith’s captaincy of Lyon for his first year was pretty awful, people tend to forget).

    If Rashid doesn’t make the XI, we can assume Root doesn’t want him. There’s some evidence that makes this a valid suspicion. If he plays, will Root toss him the ball in tight match situations? Will he use him to try to take wickets rather than “keep it tight”? Will he set sensible fields?

    I’ve plenty of sympathy with Root – he’s having to learn on the job and some in the media are pouncing on him when they let plenty of nonsense pass without comment under the previous leader. However this is going to tell us much more about Root as captain than this manufactured guff about his conversion rate (and just to be clear, I’m not saying Root’s conversion rate isn’t an issue – it’s that it predates him becoming captain). The same, incidentally, might be said for the core of senior players who don’t exactly have a great track record of creating a welcoming environment in which new bowlers flourish.

  20. Smylers July 27, 2018 at 8:59 am - Reply

    Also, this controversial selection has got cricket — test cricket at that — into the news: it’s been mentioned in brief ‘on the hour’ radio bulletins, for instance, and Michael Vaughan’s reaction to it currently is currently prominently at the top of ‘The Telegraph’ front page (not just down in the sport section).

    That is generally giving the impression to the public that selecting England’s test team matters.

    And handily, it’s happened during a lull in other major sports that have been occupying so much media space lately. If Ed Smith had to make this selection, at least he’s done it in a way which boosts test cricket’s profile to the general public. Maybe a few people who’ve seen the fuss about who’s playing will now think to follow the actual match as well?

  21. lionel joseph July 27, 2018 at 11:28 am - Reply

    The Rashid decision has attracted all the fire because it transcends the selection itself and is a bigger issue about first class county cricket. However, as you note, as far as pure selection goes, the real dirty, filthy stinker is Ali over Bess. Bess, at 21, batted with more maturity and restraint than I’ve Ali show in years, in the 1st and 2nd test and bowled very nicely in the 2nd innings of the 2nd test (wasn’t need for Pakistan’s first dig).

    It is deliciously ironic, given how much Smith has made a living out of regurgitating Kahneman and Tversky’s work that he’s been so brutally rooted by the availability heuristic on this one.

  22. Simon H July 27, 2018 at 12:00 pm - Reply

    If the headlines had been “Rashid turns down England” (and make no mistake, if this had happened it would have been leaked), would the subsequent comments from those who have it in for him have been:

    a) How magnificent of him to uphold the County Championship, or
    b) Told you he was mentally fragile and shirks a challenge?

  23. Jimmy D July 27, 2018 at 12:51 pm - Reply

    This is pretty unfair to both Smith and Rashid.

    For better or worse (or neither), the County Championship has zero relevance to test cricket in 2018. The intensity, the quality of player, what it takes to win, the conditions – there’s almost nothing in it that really determines whether a player will be a success at test level. And England’s selection travails over the past couple of years are certainly evidence of that.

    “Smith has basically forgotten who Adil Rashid is. He’s the leg-spinner who turned his back on red ball cricket a few months ago. He’s the leg-spinner who has reportedly fallen out with his county. And he’s the Adil Rashid who declined to play in the Roses championship game this week, even though most England players were available for the last round of matches.”
    The above only makes Rashid look bad if you hold the Championship and “red ball cricket” on some sort of pedestal, as this blog seems to and a vocal minority of the cricket commentariat seem to. He signed a limited overs-only contract with Yorkshire for perfectly good reasons as I saw it. Why would he then go and want to play for a county this week outside of that contract (and, by the way, the Roses match is almost irrelevant for cricket followers who aren’t from those two counties – it’s not that important and it’s not that special, no matter how much Yorkshire like to bang on about themselves)?

    It’s perfectly fine, too, for Smith to rectify what he sees as a wrong in Rashid falling out of the Test set-up.

    A certain group of cricket fans really do need to stop being so precious about the County Championship. In an ideal world, we’d have 8-10 ECB-owned franchises playing high-quality first-class cricket all summer. You’re very lucky to still have Derby v Northants in the face of all cricketing evidence that should point to the current system’s demise, so just relax and enjoy it!

    • James Morgan July 27, 2018 at 1:54 pm - Reply

      Hi Jimmy. Thanks for joining the debate.

      What do you think is the best preparation for test cricket then? Your argument suggests that you think first class cricket is irrelevant and ODIs are ideal preparation for a test match. I’m sorry but I think you’re in the minority there. Not us. And I think you’d be in the minority worldwide too.

      “Why would he then go and want to play for a county this week (the Roses game) outside of that contract” … because it might have been good preparation for the test match I imagine!

      • Jimmy D July 27, 2018 at 6:11 pm - Reply

        Thanks for having me 🙂

        Well, maybe in these circumstances – if you’re going to pick Rashid at this point in time – then maybe the best preparation is exactly what’s happened. Avoid a game for a county where there’s clearly no love lost between the two parties now (see Gillespie piece that’s just come up and whispers on the Switch Hit etc, and just go straight in. I think they know they’re picking him for wicket-taking potential rather than control (or at least I hope they do…) so nothing much changes from the one-day series.

        In 2018, you can’t afford to be precious about what ‘ideal preparation for a test match’ is. It’s different things to different people. Cricket is a crazy and complicated world these days and I don’t think you can impose a ‘same rule for everyone’ mantra on it any more. Who says you need to play a championship game the week before a test to be ready for it?

        Doug M below me says that ‘you can’t pick test cricketers based on one-day form’. Well they have been since the Fletcher era. Strauss, Anderson, Kev, Collingwood, the list goes on. All England test legends who got a test cap after impressing in the ODI side, or to put it differently, ‘picked on their one-day form’.

        Question the merits of the selection by all means. It’s the OTT sense of outrage that I don’t get.

  24. Doug M July 27, 2018 at 2:14 pm - Reply

    Well Jimmy D ‘s piece above is the biggest load of rubbish I ‘ve ever read on this blog. Sorry, but you can’t pick test cricketers based on one day form. ECB franchises playing CC? Please. What’s that the 100 in 4 day format? The EC B with its current management shouldn’t be near 1st class cricket. It’s destroying the game it proposes to represent. Worst governing body of sport of all time.

  25. Elaine Simpson-Long July 27, 2018 at 3:04 pm - Reply

    There was a cricketer who was told to go and play in the County matches, score some runs and you then make yourself eligible for the Test Side. So he went, scored a triple century and was then told to Bog Off.

    With that example in mind it is a bit rich to have a go at Rashid. I can also understand his reaction to criticism but getting involved with it all, they ‘disrespected me’ and similar is not going to help him comcentrate on the Test Marches. All it does is mess with his mind.

    I am still trying to remember the name of the cricketer mentioned above. It is the heat…..

  26. Simon H July 27, 2018 at 8:25 pm - Reply

    Nice of the editor of Wisden to write that Rashid has only to take a hatful of wickets and produce another jaffa to bowl Kohli to have been worth the trouble.

    Most of ‘the trouble’ has been caused by Ed Smith but of course he gets nothing but praise. Smith apparently works “alchemy” which is a curious turn of praise and might seem a tad excessive based on a record of one drawn home series against the No.7 ranked team.

  27. Cricketcricketcricket July 28, 2018 at 7:49 am - Reply

    There was not to long ago a cricketer who was told to go score some runs in county Cricket .. he did .. a lot of them .. he wasn’t picked..

    And yet we have two players now who never or rarely play red ball who are suddenly world beaters and one of him actively retired !!

    Ecb has turned Cricket in to a joke and white ball has well and truely infected beyond hope test cricket.

  28. Simon H July 28, 2018 at 3:51 pm - Reply

    Having had a pop at Lawrence Booth, it’s only fair to point out he’s written a very good demolition of The Hundred and included an excellent analysis of the madness of this year’s July and August schedule.

  29. Benny July 28, 2018 at 11:02 pm - Reply

    It’s all got very emotional. If England need a leggie, the cupboard is pretty bare. Where I sit, in the South, I don’t give a monkeys how upset Yorkshire are. I don’t believe any county players are now crying themselves to sleep over Rashid’s selection. In fact, James Vince, who made way for IPL hero Buttler, tweeted that he didn’t see a problem.

    But James “Clever people like to think differently. It makes them feel cleverer than everyone else” is a bit of a slap in the face for people like Einstein, Stephen Hawkin etc. Probably not a helpful comment

  30. Simon H July 29, 2018 at 11:13 am - Reply

    ” Let’s face it, Rashid doesn’t like cricket”.

    Guess who? (Clue: he manages to work in an utterly gratuitous reference to Eoin Morgan not touring Bangladesh).

  31. Bob Bayliss July 30, 2018 at 12:36 pm - Reply

    Rashid’s selection is an absolute joke. He declined to play for his county in the championship decider at Lord’s in September 16, then gave up red ball cricket altogether.. What message does this send about the disconnect between county and test cricket? Why should players choose to prove themselves in county cricket when they can make money in T20 stuff around the world and still walk into the test side.

    Even Kevin Pietersen was prepared to play county cricket as a route back to the test side. Whatever his impact on team morale, he was a world class player. Rashid is nothing of the sort. There is no case for this selection.

    • Nigel July 31, 2018 at 7:45 am - Reply

      It sends the perhaps rather useful message that if you’re a decent leg spinner, there isn’t a huge amount of competition for an England place.
      Which seems to be rather a good incentive for youngsters to work on their skills.

  32. Simon H July 30, 2018 at 9:08 pm - Reply

    10k tickets unsold on both days one and two according to Ali Martin.

    • Pete Cresswell August 1, 2018 at 8:14 am - Reply

      And with the cheapest tickets reduced from £29 to £21. In a city with a massive expat Indian population.

      Meanwhile the T20 Blast is drawing record crowds (though one suspects the good weather is helping massively there)

  33. Oyepick August 6, 2018 at 12:25 pm - Reply

    I full agree entirely.


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