Adil Rashid has explained in greater detail his reasons for focussing on white-ball formats this year - his decision was revealed by The Telegraph last week - and issued an important warning about the future of leg spin in county cricket.
“It’s something that I’ve thought about and felt I had to do, and has been inside me for a little while,” said Rashid, who turned 30 last week. “Last year, playing red-ball cricket for Yorkshire, my thought was that if I wasn’t giving 100 per cent then I would be letting the team down and also myself down. It was a decision made purely because of how I felt playing red-ball cricket at this time. My mind’s not there, my heart’s not there, I’m letting the team down but also myself down. I had to get it off my chest and let Yorkshire know.”
Rashid’s frame of mind was reflected in his figures in the Championship last year: 10 wickets at 50 runs each for Yorkshire, easily his worst season since he created a sensation on his Championship debut in 2006, when he took six wickets for 67 in Warwickshire’s second innings. So his switch to white-ball formats - for the coming season at any rate, if not permanently - could not have come as a complete surprise to Yorkshire’s director of cricket, Martyn Moxon.
“Martyn is very good in that sense. We had a chat, and he was disappointed that I made this decision, but he also respects it. He’s happy that I told him now rather than maybe a week before the season, that would have been a tough situation for him. He took it well and is happy that I told him.
“Like I said before, it’s not a permanent thing. It’s for this season, to see how it goes, how it unfolds and what happens. See what my mind says and what my heart feels. If it changes I could be going back to red-ball cricket next season. That’s a long way away, and a lot can change. At this moment in time I’m very content with what I’m doing.”
Rashid’s very important warning is that if the first half of the Championship is squeezed into April and early May, there is almost no point in a leg spinner turning up to bowl on slow pitches in cold weather. “That was a big part of it,” Rashid said. “Early season, I may not bowl much. A couple of overs here and there. Doing that, I wouldn’t get my rhythm – two overs before lunch, a few overs before tea. That wouldn’t help my confidence. At that stage, I’d just be going through the motions.” And bowling in the second half of the Championship in mid and late September, he might have added, is not much easier.
Rashid rates New Zealand as an ODI side: they have won their last eight internationals, all at home. “I think they’re a very good outfit. I think Kane Williamson is leading them very well. They’re a very talented team. They proved it during the ODI series against Pakistan which they won 5-0. This coming series is not going to be easy for us. If us lot play to our potential, we’ll do well.”