England selection chief Ed Smith and his panel were under fire on Thursday following their controversial decision to recall leg-spinner Adil Rashid for next week’s first Test against India – a move Michael Vaughan slammed as “ridiculous”.
Rashid was included in a 13-man squad even though he has opted out of playing first-class County Championship cricket for Yorkshire this season.
Being available for Championship cricket has long been an essential requirement for England selection and many observers believe it’s wrong Rashid, for all his recent excellent one-day international form, should get a Test recall without playing red-ball cricket.
Former England captain Vaughan, who himself played for Yorkshire, was scathing in his assessment.
Normally the announcement that a Yorkshire player had been selected for an England side would be a cause for rejoicing among the White Rose faithful.
But former Yorkshire and England seamer Matthew Hoggard was also among those who tweeted their disapproval of Rashid’s recall for the first of a five-match series at Edgbaston.
Yorkshire chief executive Mark Arthur made a similar point, telling the county’s website: “We’re very surprised that England have called Adil up after not playing red-ball cricket this season.
“Neither has he expressed a desire to do so. I hope that England know what they’re doing to Adil, and the county game.”
Meanwhile even the 30-year-old Rashid, who has yet to play a Test in England after 10 appearances overseas, said he was taken aback by his recall after more than 18 months out of the format since playing against India in Chennai in December 2016.
“It was definitely a tough decision –- and yes, obviously, I was kind of surprised,” Rashid told Sky Sports News.
“To get back in the Test side, usually people have got to go back to their counties and perform to be considered.
“But me and Ed Smith and a few others, had a chat –- and they were thinking, if I can be available... we’ll be happy for me to be in the squad.”
Rashid’s recall came alongside that of off-spinner Moeen Ali, who was preferred to Somerset’s Dom Bess – a Test debutant in the drawn series against Pakistan earlier this season.
It was a bold move by a panel headed up by new selection chief Smith, who recalled Jos Buttler against Pakistan on the strength of the batsman’s form in the Indian Premier League.
Rashid starred recently in England’s one-day series wins over Australia and India, taking 20 wickets at an average of 23.95.
He also produced a classic leg-break to bowl India captain and star batsman Virat Kohli as England clinched a 2-1 success at the bowler’s Headingley home ground.
Meanwhile left-arm spinner Jack Leach, who like Rashid naturally turns the ball away from right-handed batsmen, suffered concussion on his return to county cricket with Somerset after breaking his thumb on the eve of the Pakistan series and so has yet to add to his debut cap against New Zealand in Christchurch.
Former England batsman Smith insisted that while Rashid’s contractual situation at Yorkshire was unchanged for this season, he would also have to commit to playing red-ball cricket if he wanted a long-term Test future.
“Adil fully understands that if he wishes to be eligible for Test cricket in the 2019 season, he must have a county contract to play four-day cricket,” he said.
“Moving forward, England Test players must be committed to the County Championship.
“Clearly, the one-off circumstances around Adil’s return to the Test squad are unusual.
“However, the selection panel was unanimous in believing that Adil should be selected in England’s squad.”
Twitter, especially the English cricket community, was abuzz with reaction to the news but there were a fair few jokes floating around as well.
Makes you wonder... was it all down to this one moment?