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Adil Rashid’s recall is expedient, unprincipled and unfaithful | Cricket Bats | England

The selection of Adil Rashid in England’s squad for the first Test will go down as one of the great betrayals of county cricket.

And that is quite an accolade at a time when barely a week goes by without England’s professional game being treated with condescension.

When, back in February, Rashid informed Yorkshire that he wanted to sign a white-ball contract and turn his back on the red-ball game, it was widely assumed that, unless and until he changed his mind, his Test career was at an end.

Now it appears that Rashid can tack a few Tests onto a white-ball contract with the full blessing of those empowered at the ECB.

Pragmatic, some might say; blue-sky thinking. If it helps England beat India then all well and good.

But as far as the county game is concerned – the game that underpins England’s team – this decision is expedient, unprincipled and unfaithful.

Yet again it says, when it comes to England’s professional game, we will use you and abuse you.

There will be fury in the Broad Acres over the decision to select Rashid. That there is fury in Yorkshire should come as no surprise because it tends to happen on a daily basis.

But as a sporting example of the difference between metropolitan laws of convenience and the cussed, uncompromising morality that still flavours much of the north, this one will take some beating.

Yorkshire are now in a curious position where a player who, by his own request, is on a white-ball only contract is now unavailable for the later stages of the T20 Blast (a white-ball competition) because he is playing red-ball cricket for England.

(This follows, incidentally, two Yorkshire players – Liam Plunkett and David Willey – joining the IPL as injury replacements on the eve of the season and an overseas signing, Billy Stanlake, withdrawing entirely from a deal because Cricket Australia changed their mind).

When Rashid made his white-ball decision in February, this onlooker, for one, was less critical than most. It was his life, his choice and, however much his critics protested about disloyalty, he was entitled to exercise his own free will.

Now that England have persuaded him into double dealing – cognitive dissonance writ large – it is virtually impossible to defend him.

The condemnation that will fall upon him will be considerable; the mischief that some will make of this unimaginable.

Yorkshire, after all, have just undertaken a Roses match with Josh Poysden, another legspinner, called in on an emergency one-match deal because Rashid remained unavailable in a Championship round in which the vast majority of England players took part.

It would have been strong-minded for Rashid to respond to England’s overtures to make himself available for the Test series against India by stating that he had made his decision to play white-ball only and, as such, he had to live or die by that.

But Rashid is a complex, uncertain character, the pressure to say “yes” will have been considerable, and he should never have been put in that position.

It is possible that such decisions will soon be outlawed – that in future players will have to make themselves available for red-ball county cricket to be considered for Tests – but even this could soon descend into farce and fakery.

For Rashid to switch to Test-match mode will be far from easy. He is a wonderful white-ball cricketer when batsmen must attack him, when he can set boundary riders and when his mind is clear. Taking Test match wickets will be an entirely different challenge.

If England win the World Cup next summer, there is every chance that he will be a central figure and he will deserve his triumph.

But if he appears at Edgbaston it will be time for regret and an exhausting realisation once more, that England’s professional game is facing an existential crisis not of its own making.



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