The Dummy's Guide to Cricket

Yorkshire. The land of the soggy pud, craggy peaks and Dracula. Just like the latter provoked widespread fear amongst the public, so too has the inclusion of Adil Rashid. Hysteria, anger and hanging garlic over door frames have all featured in the responses of Rashid being called up for the first test of England versus India; which starts tomorrow. Prominent Yorkies have choked on their, um Yorkie bars. The county is split. Is it right Adil was included? What does this say about Yorkshire cricket? Why are Yorkies still ‘not for girls?’ Actually that last one is a different article altogether.

Watching The People Get Lairy

In the recent white ball series against India, Adil Rashid was England’s leading wicket taker with 6 at an average of 24. Alongside Moeen Ali, Rashid bowled tightly, restricting the dynamic batsmen. The face of master chaser Virat Kohli as he gaped at the wrenching turn of the ball which Shane Warne appeared to have sent down, was priceless. Like the face of Dani and Jack as they were announced ‘Love Island’ winners. What’s that? Oh it’s a reality programme where vain, self-absorbed pillocks, cut corners in love and win a mountain of cash at the end. Hang on a moment, that sounds familiar.

Someone who doesn’t undertake hard work, simply finds the easy way? Participates in the shorter format of a relationship? Has an eye on earning wedges of cash?

Surely that’s a perfect metaphor for Adil Rashid!

*Insert Joe Root mic drop*

Unlike Rooty, I’m not embarrassed by this gleeful celebration. This article could take you on a meandering debate, offering both points of view about the thorny issue. In his piece yesterday Chris Darwen ruminated how, ‘at the end of the day the rules don’t change that much between formats’ for, ‘personally I am all for picking players who are in form.’ Now I don’t want to create a Yorkshire like rift in the HFAL dressing room but I would politely suggest that Chris may not be entirely correct.

Not Very Pretty I Tell Thee

Yes limited overs and test cricket are similar. They both require a bat and ball. Each player wears trousers, a top and cap. Many spectators will have a glass of amber liquid in hand. However there are subtle differences in style and substance. As there are a limited number of balls to score from in the shorter format, batsmen will often adopt gung ho approaches. Seeking to smack boundaries, there is little thought for wicket safety. Conversely at a test match, runs will be scored at a snail’s pace. Batsmen will occupy the crease for long periods (unless they’re English of course), being perfectly happy to construct their house on blocks from Legoland.

Spin bowlers in white ball cricket are thus often deployed as run stoppers, rather than wicket takers. Where paceman give easy boundary nicks, spinners slow the run rate down. In comparison during a test match, a spinner must employ clever techniques and variations to take wickets. Failure to take wickets in a One-Day contest is nowhere near as damaging as during a sweltering test match. Runs are key in limited overs; wickets crucial in the longer format.

The problem with Adil Rashid is that he struggles to take wickets over a long period of bowling. Yes he’s only played 10 tests, but the 38 wickets come at an unimpressive 42.78. Compare that to 30.80 in ODI’s, where his ability to slow down the run rate makes batsman impatient, hence leading to catches off his bowling. The disparity at county level is still wide; 490 wickets at 35.07 in championship, 256 at 30.48 in List A and 178 at just 22.64 in T20’s. In other words. He ain’t amazing with red ball in hand. Just because he’s in superb form clutching a white ball, does not automatically mean he’ll be a revelation wearing whites. The stats and his past form show a different story.

Walking Through Town Is Quite Scary

Reader, I know exactly what you are thinking right now. Two words. Jos Buttler. Here is a guy who was picked solely because of his ODI and T20 form, just like Rashid. And didn’t you write a derogatory piece slamming Jos’ inclusion against Pakistan? Why are you churning out the same old negative rubbish about Adil then matey? I’ll tell you why.

Buttler was an exception to the rule. His form is 2018 was staggering. Best form of his life. Plus, he offered something genuinely magical to that England line up; the ability to lift the game away from opponents. With Stokes suffering from injury and a muddled mind, Buttler was included because the time was perfect.

Is Adil Rashid on fire like Buttler was? No. Does he offer something completely unique? No. Are there other options just as good? Yes.

At test level Rashid offers nothing more than say, Dom Bess. Or Jack Leach. Both spinners who can count themselves incredibly unlucky not to be picked. After all, they are the two most recent incumbents of the spinner position and neither let themselves down on the big stage. They must feel as gutted as a fish that’s been separated from their family, beaten to death and well… gutted for a fish ‘n’ chip supper in Whitby. And has a chip on its shoulder.

Not Very Sensible Either

Michael Vaughan, Geoff Boycott and Martyn Moxon. Two Yorkshire legends and one director of cricket. All thoroughly pissed off by Ed Smith’s decision. Here’s where the real crux of the issue lies and why, even if you ignore the points above about cricket, Adil Rashid should not play for England.

He does not play for his county side.

How can a sportsman, who has chosen to ignore his county, get angry when Yorkie’s react in frustration and bewilderment? Of course they are furious! What utter cheek of a player, to say, ‘Ah I don’t fancy playing county matches, trudging around the country, bowling long spells on unhelpful pitches; think I’ll just be a hero in the One-Day Cup and Vitality Blast.’ No wonder Yorkshire are pissed off. Boycs labels Rashid ‘a spoilt brat,’ Vaughan calls it ‘ridiculous’ and ‘a stab in the chest for county cricket.’

They are completely correct. If you aren’t willing to put the hard work in, you should not reap the rewards. Does Mo Salah only play when he wants too? I presume Dave Grohl doesn’t feature when the Foo’s play an indoor gig? For those county cricketers who try their hearts out, suffer long sessions fielding in the heat and spend nights away from home, this is not just a stab in the chest but a disembowelment. Those with England aspirations, work hard because they want to reap the rewards. Seeing a fellow player promoted for not even playing the sport, must be so gruelling.

La… La La La La La

At school Adil Rashid would be the kid selected for everything because his father is flush with cash. Short cuts cannot be acceptable in sport. Hold Rashid up to the work ethic and sacrifices which a sportsman like Geraint Jones has made and he shatters into a million fragments of selfishness. Jones spent long hours in the saddle being a team member supporting the likes of Cavendish, Wiggins and Froome to Tour de France glory. Now he has his chance in the sun and rightly so. No wonder Geraint is so popular because people understand the noble team sacrifices he made for others.

What Rashid stands for is the complete opposite.

I Predict A Riot!

This is not a personal attack on a bowler who is proving incredibly successful in white ball cricket. I’m not doubting Rashid’s work ethic in that domain. What I am shedding light on is the hypocrisy of not bothering to play for your county, but swanning into the England team on a free whim. It is a kick in the teeth for county cricket. Why should young players bother putting the hard yards in, when they know a fine display in the short format will have England calling? County cricket is in danger of becoming null and void. It should be the teething ground for prospective internationals. Instead it is quickly becoming a wasteland of ignored players, who shrivel into rotting carcasses.

Ed Smith’s assertion that from next year only players with a county contract will be considered, is a bit like a politician attempting to smooth over a blunder. Adil Rashid, with no county cricket since September 2017 should never have been chosen. Had he swallowed his pride and played in the Roses clash last week, the conversation would never have been this fierce.

Instead Rashid has ensured he will probably never play for Yorkshire again.

But then again, he won’t mind as he’ll still turn out for England.