“I TOLD you,” said Dickie Bird, “I told you.”
The legendary umpire jabbed his index finger towards me in the manner of a man eager to emphasise his point.
“That Rashid,” he went on, “a batsman who bowls.
“Not a bowler who bats, but a batsman who bowls.”
Bird’s assessment – delivered during a chance meeting in the Carnegie Cafe during the lunch break – stressed what he and many others have long thought about Adil Rashid.
Namely, that for all his talent as a leg-spin bowler, Rashid’s strongest suit is actually with the bat.
It was certainly difficult to dispute Bird’s contention as Rashid yesterday progressed to his highest first-class score.
The 25-year-old – unbeaten on 120 overnight – went on to score 180 out of a total of 505-9 declared before Somerset ended day two on 92-1.
Selected initially for Yorkshire as a batsman back in 2006, only to immediately cause a sensation with his bowling by taking 6-67 on debut against Warwickshire at Scarborough, Rashid looked for all the world like a top-order player during an innings that spanned 317 balls and included 24 fours and one six.
When he was last out, caught behind off Peter Trego after just over seven hours at the crease in total, Rashid was warmly applauded off the field.
And none more heartily, one suspects, than by Bird himself, last seen heading off somewhere to sign copies of his latest book: the eminently readable Dickie Bird 80 Not Out – “outselling even Thatcher”, according to the great man himself.
Throwing off the cloak of journalistic impartiality for a moment, how wonderful to see Rashid performing so well at present and clearly enjoying his cricket at Yorkshire once more.
With his well-documented problems at the club now behind him, he has lately been busy showing what a terrific little player he really is, and how every Yorkshireman and woman will hope that this latest innings – which eclipsed his previous best of 157 not out against Lancashire at Headingley in 2009 – will be the catalyst for more big centuries to come.
Big centuries, in fact, have been something of a feature of Yorkshire’s cricket of late, and one wonders when was the last time they had four individual scores of 180 or more in less than three completed matches.
Joe Root’s 182 at Durham was followed by his career-best 236 against Derbyshire, whom Jonny Bairstow caned to the tune of 186, and then along came this effort by Rashid.
It is the sort of heavy scoring that wins Championships, and if Yorkshire could only get their top-order firing too, that would be a realistic target in this, their 150th anniversary year.
After that top-order struggled on the opening day, when Yorkshire slipped to 75-4, the home side’s recovery somewhat spoke for itself.
They began yesterday on 332-5 and, after play commenced an hour late following morning drizzle, had advanced to 370 by the time Andrew Hodd was sixth man out. The wicketkeeper, who contributed 27 to a stand of 88 in 121 balls with Rashid, got a brute of a ball from Steve Kirby that reared up and took the shoulder of the bat before nestling in wicketkeeper Jos Buttler’s gloves.
With only one run added, Tim Bresnan was pinned lbw for a duck by Trego, the last action before Yorkshire took lunch on 371-7.
The afternoon brought an attractive innings from Rich Pyrah – back in the team with Ryan Sidebottom absent through illness, the all-rounder attacking sensibly while Rashid accumulated serenely.
Pyrah never lets Yorkshire down and he has a bit of quality about him too, as he showed while contributing 55 to a partnership of 79 in 17 overs with Rashid.
The highlight of his innings was when he struck Trego for four fours in an over – two through the covers, one glanced off his legs and the other steered through the slip region. It was a burst of scoring that almost carried Yorkshire to a fifth and final batting point but they fell five runs short at 395-7 by the 110-over cut-off mark.
Pyrah was finally bowled by a good one from Jamie Overton after striking eight fours in his 54-ball stay.
Rashid, chiefly wristy flicks and improvisation, clubbed a straight six off left-arm spinner Jack Leach while Jack Brooks struck an unbeaten 33 from 46 deliveries which also included a straight six off Leach and another maximum off the same bowler thumped over mid-wicket to raise the 500.
Despite generally helpful overhead conditions, the pitch remains good for batting and Yorkshire’s bowlers found life as tough going as those of Somerset.
Brooks thought he had Nick Compton caught behind early in his innings, while Pyrah thought he had Marcus Trescothick caught behind down the leg-side.
Neither appeal was upheld, Trescothick going on to 53 before falling lbw to Brooks just before stumps.