Adil Rashid opted out of the County Championship final  © Getty Images
Adil Rashid opted out of the County Championship final © Getty Images

England leg-spinner Adil Rashid said a family illness was behind his controversial decision to make himself unavailable for Yorkshire’s potential County Championship title decider against Middlesex this week. Rashid was left out of the White Rose’s squad for what will be Australian coach Jason Gillespie’s final match in charge on Sunday after he had “requested to be rested ahead of a busy winter schedule with England” ahead of next month’s tour of Bangladesh. But with Yorkshire already denied the services of Test wicket-keeper Jonny Bairstow by an England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) instruction, this was too much for some Tykes fans to accept and they vented their anger on social media.

Yorkshire, English cricket’s most successful county, need to beat leaders Middlesex to have any chance of winning a third straight title, with third-placed Somerset — at home to already-relegated Nottinghamshire — also in contention. But Rashid took to Twitter himself on Monday to make clear why he was missing the game. “Unfortunately, I have not travelled down with the Yorkshire lads this week as one of my closest family members has been very ill and was recently admitted to hospital” Rashid said.

“I didn’t feel that I am in a strong enough mental frame of mind to be at my best. Although I did make myself available, if I was required to play I felt I could be letting the lads down,” the 28-year-old added. “But coupled with my personal reasons I have also had a heavy period of cricket recently for Yorkshire and England which has been both physically and mentally draining and it is very unfortunate timing.

“Family comes first for me and I will be away on England duty this winter with a busy playing schedule. I have been in touch with the Yorkshire players and coaches and I will be wishing the lads all the best this game and I am desperately hoping we can lift the trophy for a 3rd year in a row.” READ: ‘Comeback Man’ Gareth Batty to set new world record in Tests

As well as missing Bairstow and Rashid, Yorkshire will also be without Jake Lehmann — the son of Australia coach and former Yorkshire star Darren Lehmann — after the in-form batsman was recalled by South Australia. But Gillespie, who played alongside Darren Lehmann for both South Australia and Australia, was confident Yorkshire could upset the odds and see him off with a win before he heads home ‘Down Under’ for family reasons.

“It would be great to win. I would love to see the looks on the faces in that dressing room if we’re fortunate enough to win the title,” the former fast bowler told Yorkshire’s website. “We’re in for a tough challenge, but we’re up for it.” In contrast to Yorkshire’s selection problems, Middlesex will have paceman Tim Murtagh available after Ireland allowed him to stay with the London club rather than have him join their squad for the upcoming one-day international series in South Africa.

“I would like to thank Cricket Ireland for the understanding and sensitivity they have shown in this situation,” Middlesex managing director Angus Fraser told the club’s website. Middlesex lead Yorkshire by nine points, with Somerset a point further behind. Somerset captain Chris Rogers, the former Australia opening batsman, told the southwest county’s website: “We have got nothing to lose and things have to go all our way for us to claim the title, so we can go into this game with a positive attitude and just play to win and then see what happens.”