The Case For Adil Rashid

Today we have a ‘player spotlight’ piece by guest writer Michael Hall. Below he defends a player that often splits opinion. Do you agree that Rashid can become an integral part of the England team in all formats?

In my view Adil Rashid is a fine international cricketer and deserves to have a full central contract covering all forms of cricket. I believe he should be a regular member of the Test team and be used predominantly as an attacking strike bowler.

I realise my view is not universally shared. If anything it’s contrary to the vast majority of England cricket supporters. I must also confess that I’ve always been a fan of Adil – ever since I first saw him bowling for Yorkshire at Scarborough against Middlesex early in his career.

Although Rashid bowls relatively slowly, this enables him to get lovely loop and dangerous dip. He can deliver the most wonderful deliveries that flummox even world class batsmen. Things happen when Adil is bowling. And that’s the bottom line.

As a long-term supporter of Yorkshire, I also think the criticism (and outright venom) directed at him is unfair – especially when it comes from fellow Yorkshire fans. I hope that now he’s signed a new one year contract, which commits him to playing red ball cricket too, that difference can be put to one side and people will judge him as a cricketer more objectively.

Adil is a proven international quality cricketer. His bowling average in one day internationals is a wicket every 31 runs. That’s very respectable. And his average in T20s is an admirable 29 with a strike rate of 22.5; therefore he has become a valued member of Eoin Morgan’s teams. It’s obvious that Morgan trusts him, and this helps him to perform consistently well.

Although his strike-rate is respectable rather than miserly, the fact he takes wickets slows the innings down in general. What’s more, he often gets the opposition’s best batsmen out. He has a wonderful orthodox leg break, a good straight ball, and a more than useful googly he lands far more often than not. I was delighted this season when he took Virat Kohli’s wicket in two of the three ODIs.

When I first heard speculation that Adil was being reconsidered for the Test team I thought there was no chance. England selectors are normally too conservative to pick leg-spinner and give them a fair go. I believe Ed Smith’s bravery, however, will be repaid. After all, he has made useful contributions in his 15 tests thus far. He even performed respectably in India – a country where even Shane Warne struggled somewhat.

Once Adil settles into the side I believe we will see the best of him. It’s hard to judge him on championship form alone as domestic first class matches have been largely pushed to the periphery of the season when conditions rarely suit him. The Championship can no longer be relied upon as the sole arbiter of who is the best spinner in the country.

Even so Adil’s “red ball” statistics are again very respectable for a spinner playing at Headingley. He has taken 500 wickets. He has won two county championships. Plus he’s excellent at “hoovering up” the tail – an art England’s other bowlers can’t seem to master. This quality is often overlooked because spinners are usually expected to keep things tight.

Adil, however, is a different kind of spinner – an attacking one – and there’s no finer sight in cricket than an attacking bowler, whether that’s Malcolm Marshall or Shane Warne. Things always seem to happen. I am not trying to suggest Adil Rashid is at this level, but I do believe he could be a good Test Cricketer who gives England another way of winning.

His performances this summer have been promising. On the last day at the Oval everyone was beginning to get excited/worried that India might win whilst Rahul and Pant were making hay. Adil got them both within a few overs of being brought on. The delivery that got Rahul used the footmarks brilliantly and I believed the fear of receiving a similar delivery induced Pant into a rash shot.

Adil can really spin the ball. He does not rely on drift so much, but his standard leg-break is dangerous, his googly provides good variation, and he bowls a quicker and flatter ball to vary his line and pace. What’s more, Adil is now at an age where we can expect him to mature. He is now 30, with experience behind him yet plenty left in the tank. He could become a real asset to the Test team, and his performances in ODIs and T20s proves he has the temperament to cope with pressure and big occasions. I just hope that Joe Root uses him the right way, shows faith, and builds his confidence.

Michael Hall


  • I do think it’s worth considering that spinners often mature late. Swann made his debut at 29 IIRC. Yes, the occasional prodigy turns up, but we’ve probably done more harm than good to a lot of spinners by expecting them to replicate Warne and do the job at 23.

    However, the hard part is English cricket commentators, fans and administrators are generally too stupid to understand the idea of a spinner as an attacking bowler in Tests… so I don’t rate Rashid’s chances of a long career. He’ll be ditched for a middling finger spinner who keeps it tight within six months. With luck he’ll manage to hang on to the limited overs slots as given how much England have mucked with his entire career (basically lost a year carrying the drinks at one point) he deserves a good run.

    • The Swann comparison seems wrong unless you are casting doubt on Rashid’s personal (rather than cricketing) maturity – which I would not do. Swann’s career development was held back by having a personality akin to Ben Stokes after a good night in the clubs. I appreciate that Rashid gives it a rip, but that is not essential to attack as a leggie. A combination of reasonable turn and variety is as effective. The unfortunate effect of giving it a big rip, unless you are a Warne, is the loss of control too often seen in Rashid’s four balls. I rarely agree with the pundits, but share the doubts in this case (and hope I am wrong).

    • There are plenty of spinners who were better when they were younger e.g. Vettori, Saqlain, Mushtaq, Harbhajan.

  • Yes but really he’d be nowhere near the Test side if we had any decent spinners in this country. We don’t develop them because we play hardly any red ball cricket in high summer, so we’re left really with Rashid and Moen. I’m not an expert but I think Rashid bowls too short most of the time and Moen really only takes wickets here. But there’s nothing else in the tank really.

  • I think a lot of it comes from the fundamental English thing of not trusting leg spin, or even really understanding the role.

    Leggies, unless their name is Shane, earn their corn on days 4 & 5, making a result out of what looked a “500 plays 550” bore draw. Rashids only test five-fer came on a day 5 pitch IIRC.

    Asking Rashid to provide control is like asking Mark Ealham to bounce out Brian Lara – a misunderstanding of the role.

    I do think Rashid is good enough, but his role depends on the team having the ability to post scores of 450+, which they do not seem to be able to do. 300 plays 300 is far too tight to risk a leggie, and the game wont reach day 4 and 5.

  • The most important thing a spinner must do is spin the ball. At least Adil does that.
    In honour of this I am going to add a touch of culture to this blog, in the form of a poetic ditty.
    Many years ago an old Folkie, some of you may remember, called Mike Harding, wrote a song about Robin Hood, looking to replace some of the myth, with myths of his own.
    You’ll probably need to Google it to get the drift as I replace Mr Hood’s references with Mr Rashid’s. I think it sums up many peoples rather indeterminate attitude to the man and his talents. Any rate here goes nothing.

    Adil was a bloke, what bowled accross the land,
    firing googlies here and there,
    He googled at the good and he googled at the bad,
    And now and then the ball would disappear.

    Joe Root was his boss and he had no lovely boys,
    to bowl their spin to fame,
    But he let Adil hang around, ’cause he’s the only bloke he found,
    What could fetch him Tail Enders every game.

    He had a fight on his blog, with ‘Ed’ the pedagogue,
    Who made Adil look a proper twit,
    He upped with his role, to score points for seam to bowl,
    And sent Adil flying into retirement.

    His partner’s name was Moin, who never got it going,
    He couldn’t ever help him out abroad,
    He couldn’t help with wickets, the bastards wouldn’t nick it,
    He just sat it out and waited to get home.


    Adil was a bloke and he had many flaws,
    Kept them all nice and clean,
    He ‘died’ in his prime, at the age of (you fill this in)
    With a nasty case of pace and swing and seam.


      • Betjeman look out eh,
        and ‘titter ye not’ as the man would say.
        And that’s a rap for today.

        50 pence.

      • Following on from your ‘nice change of pace’ (still the best of the rest)
        which are, so far (note, still in poesy mode)
        It’s a ‘catchy’ tune.
        It’s a new ‘spin’.
        It’s a ‘cover’ version.
        It’s ‘padded’ out a bit.
        If the ‘cap’ fits.
        Fits him like a ‘glove’.
        Damn, ‘run out’ of ideas.

  • I agree with much of the post, and indeed the comments.
    One thing not really mentioned is just how little bowling he gets in tests (look at the figures), even when selected, so it’s not entirely surprising that he can be inconsistent when brought on. And that can’t help his confidence much either.
    Look also at how many times he’s been in and out of the side. Much is made of the knock to he confidence of other England players if they are dropped once; for Rashid, it’s been several times.

    i really hope he gets a bit of luck and a decent run in the side, so that he gets the overs he need to prove himself – and to improve.

  • Btw, who was the last England test leg spinner with figures as good ?

    In the last series he had 87 (!) overs in five tests, and took 10 for 309.

    • I don’t remember England ever having a test-class leg spinner, and we still don’t have one! (I did like watching Bob Barber bowl, though…)

      • That is a blast from the past. I recall seeing Barber as a young schoolboy. However, you have also reminded me of why we did not have a leggie for many years. Warwickshire had the best young leggie I ever saw, Warwick Tidy, who was predicted to be the next star when he appeared as a 17 year old. Warwickshire wasted him and his FC career was over at 21.

      • If you liked Barber you’d love Gardom. Do you remember Keith of the head high full toss from the 70’s.
        Had to be the most entertaining spinner around. Sometimes he pitched the ball too, even if it was half way down.
        Vaguely remember Warwick, now there was a tidy bowler. (Sorry. Had to be done)

        • I remember Barber’s batting more than his bowling, and loved watching him as a junior member. I cannot recall Gardom but, looking at his record, he played just when I went off to university. However I may have played against him as I played for KE Five Ways for 4 years and we played Bishop Vesey (his school) every year. :)

          • Gardom may not have made much impact with you at school, as it was his stage fright at Edgbaston that gave him the notoriety. You needed a helmet batting against him there. It was Humpage I felt sorry for, he needed danger money. It also extended to his fielding as under pressure even his overthrows had a special quality. On more than one occasion he came close to flinging the ball over the boundary on the full, firing it in from mid wicket. He must have performed for the seconds to get selected, but rarely showed up for the firsts. I miss him still, as Warwickshire have never found a replacement.

  • Rashid is a useful addition to the side because he brings something different. He can pull a rabbit out of a hat when it’s most needed. However, we do need to be able to afford his mishaps, which is not always the case. It’s a conundrum.

  • Who was England’s best ever leg spinner? Doug Wright? Robin Hobbs? Len Braund? The one and only B J T Bosanquet? ‘Tich’ Freeman? (I haven’t included Ian Salisbury to spare grief…)

    Well, the figures are pretty telling – in Tests:

    Doug Wright – 108 @ 39.11, econ. 3.11, SR 75.3
    Robin Hobbs – 12 @ 40.08, econ. 2.23, SR 107.5
    Len Braund – 47 @ 38.51, econ. 2.85, SR 80.9
    B J T Bosanquet – 25 @ 24.16, econ. 3.73, SR 38.8
    A P Freeman – 66 @ 25.86, econ. 25.86, SR 56.5

    And Adil, so far,

    Adil Rashid – 48 @ 40.31, econ 3.78, SR 63.8

    Now I’m sure there are many conclusions that can be drawn from these figures, but I’d say (apart from was Wright over regarded, and why didn’t Tich Freeman play more Tests?) but I’d say they show that Adil is not the best, but far from the worst, leg spinner to play for us.

    And he cold well improve his figures over the next few months. At least I hope so. Let’s give him a chance, eh…?

    • My father and his friends reckon the best was a chap called Roly Jenkins, who took 32 test wickets at 34 in the late 40s. They rate both Jenkins and Eric Hollies (44 test wickets at 30) as better than Doug Wright, with whom they were contemporaries.

      • On the figures they have a good case. I think Wright’s ability to bowl at pace and discomfort even the best batsmen occasionally flattered him. Of course all 3 players lost good years to WW2.

    • The figures for his three test stints (2015, 2016 and 2018) are interesting:
      556-8 at 69.5
      1070-30 at 35.66
      309-10 at 30.9

  • Just my 2p. I think that by international standards Rashid is a bog standard average leg-spinner. He’s not great but he’s not bad either. However, possessing a decent (for want of a better word) leggie is actually quite an asset. I wouldn’t play him in every game but he’s certainly a valuable player to have in the squad and take on tour. The fact he can bat a bit helps too. I think perhaps the key with Rashid is expectations. If one looks at him through my lens he’s doing ok.

    What we haven’t discussed thus far, however, is his commitment to playing red ball cricket. There was a very interesting quote from Moxon after Adil signed his new one-year deal at Yorks last week. When asked why it was only one year, Moxon said that long term they don’t know what his plans are, and basically neither does Rashid. The impression given was that yes he’s committed to playing red ball cricket for now (because Ed Smith says he has to) but that might not last. Personally I think there must be a possibility that he’s only interested in red ball cricket while he’s playing for the test team. If he gets dropped from the team after a poor performance, and thinks he’s unlikely to get a recall, I think he’ll probably give up red ball cricket quicker than you can say “white ball contract”.

    • I believe Rashid thrives on being valued (maybe a bit insecure), so he is probably not that bothered about playing a bit part for Yorkshire in red ball cricket (especially given when the County Championship takes place). He seems to do well for the limited overs teams, possibly because Morgan knows how to deal with him (Morgan, to my mind, is a better captain than Root in terms of man management). I’m inclined to agree with you on Rashid’s performance in tests, but at least he’s a potential “X Factor” bowler, which England don’t have otherwise.

      • If he gets dropped from the team after a poor performance, and thinks he’s unlikely to get a recall, I think he’ll probably give up red ball cricket quicker than you can say “white ball contract”.

        Is that particularly questionable ?
        It took England the best part of two years to recall him after they last dropped him, and he barely got more overs in each innings he bowled than he would do in a one day game.

        And the uncertainty about Yorkshire contracts is hardly confined to Rashid (once again the awful ‘100’ rears its ugly head):

      • Almost anybody of Morgans age and experience will be a better man manager than the inexperienced Root. It’s not his fault, it’s just that the only alternative who’s been an automatic pick since Cook went is Anderson, whom I would suggest hardly looks a productive choice, being Mr Grumpy on the field and near the end of his career. Stokes is still under a cloud following his night clubbing, Bairstow is struggling for form, Broad and Woakes are both struggling for fitness and Butler has only just resumed his test career.
        With the present lack of consistency amongst our batsmen, maybe a successful and experienced county captain, a la Brearley, could be drafted in to do a job with Root as vice captain. How can a Test captain not be a club captain? There’s no opportunity to develop by handling different players.

    • Playing CC (which is really what you mean by “red-ball cricket” here) these days means twirling a few overs in the freezing cold of April and then a few more in September on doctored green tops as counties prepare result wickets in a desperate attempt to avoid relegation. Why would any spinner despair at this prospect?….

      There’s some serious research to be done on spinners in the CC these days compared to the past – but I’d have to care to do it and I don’t anymore.

  • I don’t see the issue with treating the ‘grind’ of the county championship as merely a path into the test team, especially at Rashid’s age, when you’re away from home so much of the time, sitting in pavilions in empty grounds and living in hotel rooms. Once your test career is over what is the incentive when you can make a living from the more popular one day format? I’m pretty sure Butler will similarly ditch the four day game when his test career is over. With Hales setting a trend I don’t see why Rashid should be singled out as some sort of traitor to the game. You’re likely to prolong your career by reducing the physical demands on your body. After all, it is their livelihood, with no guarantee of a decent job afterwards.

  • Admitting Rashid might have something to offer would mean admitting that Andy Flower and David Saker got it wrong years ago when they wrote Rashid off. I don’t think my view of the universe could sustain such a blow.

    Your etc, Mike Selvey.

  • The book “The Strange Death of English Leg Spin: How Cricket’s Finest Art Was Given Away” is a good read.

    There is a story about Doug “kangaroo-hop” Wright that may have originated with Fred Trueman who wrote “When talking to MCC Selectors Don Bradman would wax lyrical about the merits of Doug Wright, who, he told the selectors, was the finest spin bowler he had come across, and that just the sight of his name on the team-sheet had Australians worried. The selectors kept picking Dough against Australia, and Don Bradman kept knocking double-centuries off him!”


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