Adil Rashid: ‘If I don’t get a Test deal, I need to decide what to do next’
Adil Rashid is due to sit down with Yorkshire to discuss his future amid thoughts of a return to white-ball specialism in order to prolong his playing career.
Rashid, 31, has not featured for club or country since the World Cup final in July because of the chronic right shoulder injury that required painkilling injections to nurse him throughout the victorious campaign.
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The leg-spinner sees a 12-month all-format contract at Headingley expire at the end of the season, one that sat under the Test deal he was handed by England last summer after being talked out of a break from first-class cricket to feature in the series against India. But with Ashley Giles, the director of England cricket, set to reveal his centrally contracted players for 2019-20 this Friday – and Rashid expected to feature only among the white‑ball cricketers – he faces another crossroads.
Rashid, whose last Test came in Barbados at the start of the year, told the Guardian: “I would love to [get another Test deal] but I don’t know what their vision is for me. I thought I did OK in the games I played but we got smashed by West Indies in the first Test in January and I haven’t played since.
“If I don’t get one, I need to decide what to do next. Is it focusing on white-ball cricket again? With the injury, I do need to think about my longevity. Whatever happens, I’ll always be thankful to Ed Smith [the national selector] and Joe Root [the Test captain] and the coaches for giving me the chance.”
Rashid’s injury is more serious than some have made out. When he tried to return in the T20 Blast in August, the pain-masking injections from the World Cup had worn off. With an impingement in the joint and ligament damage, two months of rest was prescribed in order to be ready for the winter tours.
In contrast to the joyous scenes after the World Cup when, as a key member of Eoin Morgan’s one-day side, he received a hero’s welcome in his home city of Bradford, the reaction to his injury on social media was mixed.
There were claims from supporters that Rashid had “no interest” in the club, he was “lazy”, had a “chronic attitude problem” and it was time to “get rid”. The club stating that he “declared himself unfit” before the full diagnosis did not help.
“I was upset about that,” Rashid said. “They way it was phrased meant some people could perceive it as me not wanting to play for the club. But that’s not true. I was really looking forward to the T20s.
“I could barely lift my arm – it was that bad. The bone was rubbing in the socket and there are [ligament] tears in there too. The England doctors confirmed the injury. And I couldn’t have any more injections. I have just got to do it the hard way, which is two months of rest.”
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There is history behind the scepticism, stemming back to the County Championship decider against Middlesex at Lord’s in 2016 and a defeat that denied Yorkshire three titles in a row. It is hard not to wonder whether, like recent events, the way this played out publicly was slightly unfair on the leg-spinner.
Rashid was one of three England players who was down to rest before an epic tour to Bangladesh and India that departed the following week. Yet unlike Root, centrally contracted, and Jonny Bairstow, about to start one himself, he did not have England to absorb the blame for him.
It was also the biggest opportunity of his Test career – seven near‑guaranteed matches on the spin-friendly tracks of the subcontinent – but when the club asked him to reconsider, a family illness was also unfolding in the buildup to his departure overseas and he felt unable to change tack.The Spin: sign up and get our weekly cricket email.
Rashid explained: “That decision was bigger than cricket – it was life or death. My grandma was on her death bed and I was going away on tour the next week. Looking back, I’m still happy I made that decision. All the decisions I make with Yorkshire and my career, I never regret.
“For Yorkshire fans who still don’t accept that, that’s their problem. There are some for me, some against. Sometimes it can be upsetting and I think: ‘Why am I singled out?’ You have doubts in your head about the reasons.
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“But myself and Yorkshire, we’re on good terms at the moment. You can have a bit of bad engagement or disagreements over time but as long as you get back on the same page, that’s all that matters. I enjoy playing for Yorkshire and see myself representing Yorkshire in future.”
Yorkshire have told the Guardian they feel the same. Despite the outside noise, Rashid is highly regarded at the club – one senior club official described him as “low maintenance” – and they hope to sign him up for the Headingley 100‑ball team, too.
The only question now is which formats he plays. Were he to sign a new white-ball-only deal, it would rule him out of England’s Test tour to Sri Lanka next March after last year’s call-up forced a change to the selection policy that sees players only eligible for formats they are contracted for domestically.
Either way, Yorkshire are relaxed and have plans to honour their most prominent academy graduate from the British Asian community by naming some element of the new £5m cricket centre at Bradford Park Avenue after him. In the city with the largest proportion of British Pakistanis (20.3%) in England, it would be fitting gesture.