Ed Smith, the ECB’s national selector, has admitted that the return of legspinner Adil Rashid to England’s Test setup is ‘unusual’ given that he earlier this year made himself unavailable from four-day cricket with Yorkshire.
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Rashid, 30, was named in England’s 13-man squad for the first Test against No 1 ranked India starting in Birmingham on August 1, despite turning his back on red-ball cricket in February in order to focus on the 50 and 20-over formats. His call-up has come amid a successful run in ODIs for England this summer, which has seen him claim 20 wickets at an average of 23.95 in series wins over Australia and India.
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“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,” said Smith when naming the squad on Thursday. “Before the selection meeting, Adil had confirmed his availability to play Test cricket for England for whole of this summer and the upcoming winter tours to Sri Lanka and West Indies.”
Smith revealed that Rashid had communicated to him and his fellow national selector James Taylor, as well as England’s Test captain Joe Root and head coach Trevor Bayliss, that he was committed to playing Tests against India as well as during the winter tours to Sri Lanka and the West Indies.
In February, he told Yorkshire that he would not play in the County Championship and that his focus was excelling in limited-overs cricket. At the time, Rashid had said: It wasn’t an easy decision to make but it’s something I felt I had to do. If I was to go back to playing red ball early in the season, a bit inside me would have said ‘I’m just playing because I have to’ but I had to make that decision and say ‘no, I can’t just go through the motions’. I’ve made the decision, this summer, to just concentrate on white ball, something which makes me very happy and gives me the best chance of improving my cricket.”
Smith confirmed that Rashid’s deal with Yorkshire was “unchanged”.
“However, 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. Moving forward, England Test players must be committed to the county championship,” said Smith.
In 10 Tests between 2015 and 2016, Rashid had taken 38 wickets at 42.78 apiece and scored 295 runs at 18.43 with two fifties. He last played a Test in December 2016 in India, a series in which claimed 23 wickets, which was 13 more than any of his England team-mates managed.