Eng­land eye Rashid Test re­turn de­spite his first-class break

Leg-spin­ner not play­ing for York­shire due to shoul­der Ad­di­tion to squad would lift chances in In­dia and Sri Lanka

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport | Cricket - Ex­clu­sive By Tim Wig­more

Eng­land are keen for Adil Rashid to make a re­turn to Test cricket, be­liev­ing he would boost the qual­ity and depth of their squad.

The York­shire leg-spin­ner played the last of his 19 Tests for Eng­land in Jan­uary 2019, but has since been in bril­liant form for Eng­land in lim­ited-overs cricket.

Fol­low­ing ex­ten­sive work on his right shoul­der, which has trou­bled him over the years, Rashid was widely praised for his bowl­ing in the re­cent one-day in­ter­na­tional se­ries against Ire­land, with his goo­gly par­tic­u­larly im­pres­sive.

He is not cur­rently play­ing for York­shire in first-class cricket, af­ter de­cid­ing to fo­cus on man­ag­ing his shoul­der in the build-up to the next Twenty20 World Cup, which was sched­uled for Oc­to­ber be­fore be­ing post­poned due to Covid-19.

But it is un­der­stood that if Rashid re­turns to play­ing first-class cricket, the Eng­land man­age­ment would wel­come him be­ing avail­able for Tests once again.

In April, Rashid said that he would con­sider a re­turn to Test cricket. “Once Septem­ber comes, if my shoul­der is 100 per cent and I feel I can get back into red-ball, that is some­thing I would con­sider,” he said, declar­ing his am­bi­tion of play­ing in the Ashes in 2021-22.

“If I don’t make that de­ci­sion of play­ing red-ball and just stick­ing to white-ball then there’s no Ashes for me. But if I do make that de­ci­sion and I play red-ball, then that’s some­thing that I could look to­wards. It’s some­thing that I’ve got to earn.”

With Eng­land iden­ti­fy­ing a var­ied at­tack as es­sen­tial if they are to build a side who can thrive through­out the world – and ul­ti­mately re­turn to be­ing the No1 Test team – there would be huge ap­peal in adding a leg-spin­ner to the squad. Shane Warne is among those who

have re­cently said Rashid would strengthen Eng­land’s Test side.

Rashid has a rea­son­able record in Test cricket, tak­ing 60 wick­ets at 39 apiece in his 19 games. Af­ter his con­tro­ver­sial re­call in 2018 – at the time, Rashid was not avail­able for York­shire in first-class cricket – he played in Eng­land’s next nine Tests, a se­quence that fea­tured seven vic­to­ries.

Rashid made use­ful con­tri­bu­tions at times dur­ing these games, tak­ing 22 wick­ets at 34 apiece, in­clud­ing a Test best of five for 49 in Eng­land’s vic­tory in Colombo. But he en­dured a poor last Test, tak­ing nought for 117 from 26 overs in Eng­land’s crush­ing de­feat by West Indies in Bar­ba­dos. He has not ap­peared in any form of first-class cricket since.

Dom Bess, the cur­rent firstchoic­e Test spin­ner, has had a mod­est sum­mer, tak­ing just seven wick­ets at 46 apiece while con­ced­ing an ex­pen­sive 3.3 runs an over. But, rather than a slight on Bess, Eng­land’s de­sire for Rashid to re­turn to the Test fold is based on want­ing to in­crease op­tions in the Test squad.

Dur­ing tours to Asia – Eng­land are due to tour both In­dia and Sri Lanka this win­ter – two front-line spin­ners are likely to be es­sen­tial.

Even if Rashid’s shoul­der is not ro­bust enough to be sure of get­ting through long spells on the win­ter Test tours – when he could po­ten­tially be re­quired to bowl in the re­gion of 50 overs a Test – he could sub­se­quently re­turn to the Test reck­on­ing.

At 32, he is still younger than many leg-spin­ners tra­di­tion­ally peak, and his re­cent per­for­mances in ODI cricket have sug­gested he may still be im­prov­ing.

‘If my shoul­der is 100 per cent and I feel I can get back to red ball, I would con­sider it’

Turn­ing for­tunes: Adil Rashid was im­pres­sive against Ire­land, with his goo­gly in par­tic­u­lar

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