By Sarwar Alam
Adil Rashid has been named as the sole spinner for England in the first Test against India starting tomorrow, but his selection continues to cause controversy with former England batsman Geoffrey Boycott describing his fellow Yorkshireman as a ‘spoilt brat’ for the way he has handled the situation.
Rashid has not played a Test match since December 2016 and signed a contract to play only limited-overs cricket for Yorkshire this year, which seemed to have signalled the end of any ambitions he had to play Test cricket again.
The 30-year-old has been a key member of England’s one-day and T20 sides. He took 18 wickets at an average of 22.61 in the one-day series wins over Australia and England this summer, including a brilliant delivery that bamboozled Virat Kohli.
His form led to England national selector Ed Smith of taking the unprecedented step of selecting him for the first Test against India, despite Rashid’s refusal to commit to play first-class matches for Yorkshire.
Rashid’s selection led to fierce criticism from the likes of former England captains Nasser Hussain, Michael Atherton and Michael Vaughan, who described the selection as ‘ridiculous’, which prompted Rashid to hit back and call Vaughan ‘stupid’.
In his scathing assessment of the situation, Boycott wrote in his column for The Daily Telegraph: “By picking Adil Rashid, they are selecting the unselectable: a player who will not play four-day Championship cricket for Yorkshire because his heart isn’t in it but he will play for England in Test Matches. Absurd? Yes.
“Michael Vaughan criticised him (Rashid), so he hit out like a spoilt child saying Michael is stupid and nobody listens to him. Trashing a great England captain and superb batsman doesn’t go down well with the cricketing public.
“Let me tell Adil that Vaughan will be remembered as one of the greatest England captains and an elegant, superb batsman. In 10 years nobody will remember Adil’s Test-match performances. He has played 10 Test matches, taken 38 wickets at an average of 42.78 runs. He has been expensive and not a match-winner.”
Boycott further laid into Rashid for his treatment of Yorkshire, a county the 77-year-old represented for 24 years.
Yorkshire chief executive Mark Arthur said he was ‘very surprised’ that England decided to call-up Rashid as the leg-spinner had ‘not played red-ball cricket this season and has neither expressed a desire to do so’.
Rashid also declined to play in Yorkshire’s four-day game against Lancashire last week, which prompted the county to sign Warwickshire leg-spinner Josh Poysden on a one-match loan deal.
“How could he expect Yorkshire to welcome that news? He should reverse the roles and put himself in their position instead of thinking about himself. It makes him look like a spoilt brat,” Boycott said.
“Not only has he put two fingers up to Yorkshire by not playing four-day cricket, Adil is now not available for Yorkshire’s Twenty20 matches. He still doesn’t get it that he won’t play for Yorkshire but will play for England and thinks Yorkshire should be thrilled for him.
“He is already thinking of moving on so don’t wait for him to make the decision – just tell him he can go. He has no allegiance to Yorkshire.”
In his own on-going war-of-words with Rashid, Vaughan insisted he stood by his initial comments on the situation and maintained cricketers need to be playing first-class cricket to warrant international selection.
“If I’m stupid to suggest that he should have played a four-day game leading into a Test series against the number one team in the world – I firmly believe the cricketing world has gone nuts if he thinks he doesn’t have to do that,” he said on BBC Radio Five Live.
“It’s not just me that has criticised him so he can come at me all he wants, but it’s our job to have an opinion and my opinion is that if someone is not playing four-day cricket in our schooling ground to prepare Test match cricketers, I don’t think you should be able to play in a Test match.”