Yorkshire leg-spinner impresses in England thumping ODI win to press claims for an Ashes Test debut
Rashid spins into Ashes frame
England’s search for a specialist Test spinner might be over after Yorkshire leggie Adil Rashid starred in last night’s emphatic ODI win over New Zealand.
Rashid claimed 4-55 in the 210-run victory at Edgbaston, capturing the key wicket of Kane Williamson and bamboozling the tail with his deceptive wrong’un.
England have struggled to find a replacement for Graeme Swann after the enigmatic off-spinner quit halfway through the 2013-14 Ashes.
Swann’s spot was initially filled by Monty Panesar, but a series of off-field dramas and a steep drop in form has seen the 33-year-old remain out of favour with England’s selectors.
But in leg-spinner Rashid, England might have found the player to finally replace Swann and field a full-time spinning threat.
In two County Championship matches this season, Rashid has taken 11 scalps at 21.72, and now has an impressive 392 first-class wickets from 134 matches.
While Rashid’s recent efforts with the white ball have been praised, the concerns remain around England’s frontline spinner heading into the Ashes starting on July 8 in Cardiff.
Former England captain Nasser Hussain is worried England’s current spinning duties rest with batting allrounder Moeen Ali, given the dearth of slow options available in county cricket.
“It’s astounding that England are expecting their spinner to learn his art in international cricket,” Hussain said in the Daily Mail.
“Moeen (Ali) could end up as an excellent spinner, as we saw against India, but he is a batsman who bowls spin.
“It’s a sad state of affairs that the cupboard looks bare of spinners good enough for England.”
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Ali had a tough time at Leeds in the second Test loss to the Black Caps // Getty Images
Former England batsman Allan Lamb agrees with Hussain and says he can’t see Ali helping England regain the Ashes in his current role as Alastair Cook’s premier spinner.
“For me, Moeen is not a Test match spinner or an Ashes-winning spinner,” Lamb said in the Daily Star last week.
“He’s certainly not a Graeme Swann or someone like that who can come on and rip through a batting line-up.
“He’s struggling and England badly needed him to do the business at Leeds but he bowled poorly and had a poor game.
“I don’t think the Aussie batsmen will be worrying too much about facing him this summer.”
Lamb endorsed Rashid, who travelled to the Caribbean in April with the England Test squad but was overlooked for off-spinner James Tredwell in the first Test before Ali returned from injury to play as the primary slow bowler in the final two matches.
England were humbled in the third Test in Barbados on a turning wicket, and Hussain was livid with the reliance on Ali and part-timer Joe Root and the omission of a specialist tweaker, reiterating his frustration at the plight of the former.
“It was a damaging indictment on English cricket to see two young batsmen who bowl a bit trying to turn themselves into frontline spinners in this third Test defeat,” Hussain wrote in the Daily Mail after the five-wicket loss that marked the end of Peter Moores’ second tenure as England coach.
“Even though Moeen Ali took 19 Test wickets against India last summer and could end up a very good off-spinner, he is far from the finished product and has been learning his craft here at the highest level.
“Joe Root will always be a batsman who can offer a decent few overs of spin rather than the specialist that England needed in this Test.”
Rashid, 27, replaced an injured Darren Lehmann when he made his first-class debut nine years ago, and with six second-innings wickets, put his name up in headlights as England’s future Shane Warne.
While he might not have replicated Warne’s stellar career to date, he has scored more than 5,000 first-class runs and bagged almost 400 wickets, including 11-114 – the best figures by a leg-spinner in Yorkshire’s illustrious history.