Adil Rashid is happy to embrace the new challenge of opening the bowling in England’s Twenty20 side, but seems more unlikely than ever to return to the Test arena after admitting the idea “hasn’t even crossed my mind”.
The Yorkshire leg-spinner played the last of his 19 Tests in January 2019, initially stepping away to protect a shoulder injury, and appears increasingly content happy with the life of limited-overs specialist.
An in-form Rashid would be a major boost to Joe Root’s red-ball spin attack, which had its shortcomings exposed on turning tracks in the recent series against India, but for now he is exclusively available to white-ball skipper Eoin Morgan.
Morgan pulled a surprising move by asking Rashid to kick off with the new ball in Friday’s first T20, a role he settled into with aplomb as he set the tone for a conclusive win with two tidy overs and the wicket of India skipper Virat Kohli for a duck.
Such successes inevitably invite speculation over a Test comeback in time for this winter’s Ashes but he all but shut down the notion when speaking ahead of Sunday’s second match.
“I have no idea about that. It hasn’t even crossed my mind, Test cricket or the Ashes,” Rashid said.
“It’s a long way away, a lot can happen. I’m not thinking about that whatsoever. I don’t really think about that stuff, I think we have to see what happens closer to the time.
“With the shoulder injury, it’s been about a year now, it’s got better but it’s something I’ve got to look after. I don’t know if I can bowl those long spells of 15, 20, 30 overs in a day. That’s something that needs to be weighed and it’s also my mindset; at the moment I’m enjoying my white-ball cricket.”
The 33-year-old particularly enjoyed the wicket of Kohli, a moment that sucked the life out of an expectant crowd of 67,200 in Ahmedabad. Their early enthusiasm never quite recovered as the hosts laboured to 124 for seven and then watched England reel in the target with 27 balls to spare.
England have missed playing in front of noisy fans during the coronavirus pandemic but silencing them has its own satisfaction.
“It’s nice to get the big players out early doors to keep the crowd quiet, it was nice to get Virat very early,” said Rashid.
“I know what the crowd sounded like before then: it was very, very loud. But if you get a wicket early doors, the crowd goes quiet, or if you’re batting and hit some sixes or fours, the crowd goes quiet. You can actually hear yourselves talk to each other. That’s not something you can generally do in India, when you have you 70 or 80,000 screaming, especially if India are going well or taking wickets.”
Rashid does not yet know if he will be continuing to lead off the innings as the series progresses, having only been given a couple of days’ notice that it was on Morgan’s mind. If it does become a regular requirement, he stands ready to do his part.
2nd T20I, Mar 14 (Ahmedabad)
3rd T20I, Mar 16 (Ahmedabad)
4th T20I, Mar 18 (Ahmedabad)
5th T20I, Mar 20 (Ahmedabad)
1st ODI, Mar 23 (Pune)
2nd ODI, Mar 26 (Pune)
3rd ODI, Mar 28 (Pune)
“Bowling with the new ball is something new for me and hopefully it’s something I can do again depending on (the) game situation,” he said.
“Whether it’s the first six overs, middle overs or the death – I’m always looking to develop and work hard. It’s whatever the captain needs from myself and for the team. Something that is good to practise, which I what I’ve been doing – bowling with a new ball in case I am needed. I’m trying to focus on every part of the game.”
Rashid will be heading back to England at the end of the tour, having once again gone unsold in the Indian Premier League auction. For one of the most prolific spinners in the world game, his constant absence from the tournament is something of a surprise but he accepts the proliferation of spinners in the country’s domestic game hinder his chances of landing a contract.
“It would be nice to get these deals but you put your name forward and see if these teams pick you,” he said.
“I wouldn’t say disappointing, there’s a lot of spinners out there and India have their own local spinners so I wasn’t expecting to get picked up.”