County Championship Division 1

Rashid's 'strange' call on playing future

England spinner opts to focus on white-ball cricket and not play first-class games in 2018

Martin Smith

16 February 2018, 05:12 PM

England leg-spinner Adil Rashid says he has not turned his back on Tests despite opting against playing first-class cricket with his county side Yorkshire in 2018.

But former Test skipper and fellow Yorkshireman Michael Vaughan has labelled the 29-year-old's decision "strange" given England are currently crying out for a frontline Test spinner.

Rashid, who took 38 wickets in 10 Tests in 2015-16, is England's premier spinner in both ODI and T20 cricket and has opted to play white-ball cricket only for Yorkshire this season.

England spinner Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid // Getty
England spinner Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid // Getty

Yorkshire's director of cricket Martyn Moxon labelled Rashid's decision "disappointing", but the spinner says he has the full backing of England coach Trevor Bayliss.

"At this moment in time in my career, I just feel that white-ball cricket is where I am best, enjoying it most and where I feel I can develop and offer a lot more," he said.

"That was my main thought process. It's not me saying I'm finished from red ball, it's just me saying that this summer I'm going to concentrate on white ball and see where that takes me.

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"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'. 

"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.

"It's for this season coming and to see how it goes."

Rashid's decision comes at a time where the identity of England's No.1 Test spinner is clouded.

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Off-spinning allrounder Moeen Ali, England's main Test spinner in recent years, averaged 115 with the ball in the Magellan Ashes over the summer.

Leg-spinner Mason Crane made his Test debut in the final Test at the SCG, taking 1-193 for the match, and both he and Moeen have been named in the squad for their upcoming Test series in New Zealand.

Vaughan said Rashid's decision was "unselfish" as it would allow younger spinners a chance at first-class level, but he "questioned who is advising him" given the uncertainty surrounding England's XI following their Ashes defeat.

"He could have started the season with lots of wickets," Vaughan wrote in The Telegraph.

"England's spin department is pretty thin and in a couple of months' time they could be crying out for someone like Rashid.

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"He could have taken a couple of five-fors and got back in the Test side against India. England are touring West Indies and Sri Lanka this winter, good opportunities for a spinner. But Rashid has given that up aged only 29. Strange."

Rashid has taken 490 wickets at an average of 35 in 166 first-class matches to go with more than 6500 runs, including 10 hundreds.

Moxon said his disappointment with Rashid's decision stemmed from his belief that the 29-year-old still had plenty to offer at Test level.

He added that added county sides "can't accommodate specialists" in the long term.

"From my point of view it's disappointing because I think Adil has got the ability to play in all three formats of the game, not only at county level, but also at international level," Moxon said.

"It is Adil's decision and we have to respect that.

"I've said many times that the skills required for the three formats of the game are so different, so it is a challenge for players to play in all three – in international cricket you don't have many players that do.

"We need our players to be able to play in all three formats predominantly. You get the odd specialist, but county setups can't accommodate specialists at this moment in time. Whether that will happen in the future, we'll wait and see.

"We really need to get our players skilled up in all three formats. Adil obviously feels he can't achieve that at the moment."