So Why Isn’t Adil Ideal?
There is never a better opportunity to reinforce your England credentials than when the Sky TV cameras are in attendance.
In taking 4-19 as Yorkshire beat Durham by 24 runs in the T20 Blast, Adil Rashid ensured his international credentials – or lack thereof – were firmly thrust back in to the limelight ahead of the Third Test against South Africa.
But the 29-year-old remains a divisive figure among armchair selectors – though it is not entirely clear why.
The long held view is that Rashid is either a) not economical enough or b) bowls too many bad balls.
The Bradford native hasn’t had a great summer, taking just nine wickets at an average of 49.77 with an economy of 4.57, adding fuel to the fire that if he’s not taking wickets then he’s not doing anything useful – with many pointing to Moeen Ali’s ability to at least tie up and end and build some pressure even if conditions are not conducive to spin.
In a sense, that’s a fair assessment – but equally it feels like an unfair comparison. Like asking why a military medium bowler endures differing to success to a speed demon roaring in with a shiny new ball.
You could say ‘spin is spin’, but that somewhat betrays the nuance of the craft.
This summers struggles, and the reputation Rashid has for being’ expensive’, also lack a certain amount of clarity.
The change in the structure of the County season hasn’t been friendly to spinners, with limited overs ‘blocks’ interrupting Championship play; something which has not helped Rashid or other England hopefuls such as Mason Crane or Jack Leach.
Rashid’s career numbers are also better than the last few months would suggest, boasting a first class career economy of 3.59.
In the style of a certain popular gameshow, ask 100 people what they think his career economy is, and it would not be outlandish to suggest a good number would believe he goes at more than four an over…
A victim of an imagined perception then?
Perhaps criticism ‘B’ might be closer to the truth. That Rashid is not a bad bowler, or a particularly expensive one, but someone who will bowl the odd loose one.
And at Test level that may as well be just as bad as being expensive if you’re role on the team is to be a front line spinner.
Test batsmen will be far more willing to soak up a little pressure if they have the belief a bad ball will come- it’s partly why they are test batsmen and not merely ‘good domestic players’.
Ultimately, Rashid seems to fall in to the middle of some horrible Venn diagram – he’s not overly expensive, but people think he is, and in his ten Tests to date (all in the sub continent it should be added) he’s taken 38 wickets at 42.78.
So a picture has been built, via one means or another, that he is an expensive (luxury) bowler who doesn’t take, or hasn’t taken, enough wickets at the highest level.
Whilst it’s not impossible that Rashid will get another opportunity to play Test cricket for England, the end result of the to-ing and fro-ing that have taken place over the past few years seem, ultimately, to have left him pigeonholed.
Rashid now seems to be seen by the England hierachy as a wicket taking spinner in limited overs cricket – one they will happily see milked for runs safe in the knowledge he will take wickets during the key middle overs – but not someone you’d wish to turn to in the Test arena.
Whether you feel that is fair or not might also hinge on whether you like Marmite or not. It’s that kind of debate. But while that debate goes on (and on), the world keeps turning – though it may be spinning away from Adil Rashid.
I make no apologies for the puns.