ADIL RASHID insists that he has no regrets about giving up red-ball cricket even though injuries could have opened up his route back into the Test team.
The Yorkshire leg-spinner makes his first appearance of the season today when the club begin their Royal London Cup campaign away to Durham.
However, with Jack Leach and Mason Crane having recently suffered injuries, and with Moeen Ali having fallen out of favour, Rashid would potentially have been in line to play against Pakistan in the first Test at Lord’s next Thursday.
Instead the selectors called-up 20-year-old uncapped Somerset spinner Dom Bess, a man with 63 first-class wickets to his name compared to Rashid’s 490.
Commenting on the probability of a Test recall had he chosen not to quit red-ball cricket on the eve of the season, Rashid said: “That could have happened, of course, but it’s not something I’ve thought about. I made the decision some time ago and those kind of things will always happen.
“It was just what I felt was the right thing to do because it would have been easy for me to carry on, go through the motions and let nobody know. I didn’t really feel my heart was in it. Rather than that I had to tell Yorkshire.”
Rashid added: “I had a chat with (director of cricket) Martyn Moxon and said, ‘I don’t feel I’d be giving 100 per cent, which would let the team down and myself down’. We then came to an agreement.
“I was thinking about it for probably a couple of months before making the decision. I’m 100 per cent happy. If I make a decision I’ll stand by it. It may be a good one or a bad one in time, who knows? But I will stand by it however it turns out.”
Some have supported that decision in an era in which more and more players are set to prioritise the lucrative drawcard of white-ball cricket.
Others have found it unfathomable particularly as Rashid missed out on an Indian Premier League deal and has not played a competitive match for over two months.
The decision has divided opinion among Yorkshire’s supporters with some openly stating that the club should have sacked him rather than acquiesce to his demands.
For their part Yorkshire have made no bones about the fact that they would rather agree to those demands than lose Rashid’s skill in the white-ball formats, with the club having gone 16 years without a one-day trophy.
“It’s nice to get some backing,” said Rashid of the favourable reaction from some supporters. “But those who don’t that’s up to them. They have their own opinions and it doesn’t faze me.
“I will give 100 per cent. If they back me, great. If they don’t, that’s their problem.”
It’s nice to get some backing. But those who don’t that’s up to them. They have their own opinions and it doesn’t faze me. I will give 100 per cent. If they back me, great. If they don’t, that’s their problem.Adil Rashid
Rashid, 30, will be expected to justify his decision by performing well in the Royal London Cup and the Vitality T20 Blast.
Yorkshire are set to review the arrangement later in the year, but the player insists that he does not feel any extra pressure after deciding to quit County Championship cricket for this year at least.
“I didn’t think about that,” he said. “If I don’t perform, I don’t perform; at least I know I’m giving 100 per cent. That’s all that matters.
“Just because I’m not playing Championship cricket it doesn’t add any pressure to the others (formats). There’s plenty of cricket for me to play, other competitions around the world.”
Rashid has been preparing for the Royal London Cup in the second XI having had some time off after the international winter. He says he is refreshed and raring to go.
“I had some time off and spent it with the family,” he said. “I then got back into training with Yorkshire and I’ve also done some of my own stuff – fitness work, that sort of thing.
“I’m looking forward to getting out there and playing. It’s been good getting some practice in and playing a couple of second-team games; it’s been a really good preparation.”
Yorkshire will be hoping to improve on last year’s quarter-final appearance when they lost by 24 runs to Surrey at Headingley on the back of a century by Kumar Sangakkara for the visitors – his 100th hundred in all forms of the game.
Prior to that they won six of their eight group matches on their way to a second-placed finish in the North Group, including a remarkable victory against today’s opponents Durham, who failed to defend a score of 335 when Yorkshire won by six wickets at Headingley thanks to Jonny Bairstow’s dazzling 174.
“We’ve got a strong side and squad, and hopefully we can work well together and go all the way this time,” said Rashid.
“We’ve been close without crossing the line, so hopefully this year is different.
“Durham are a good team and it’s important we get off to a good start.
“But rather than thinking, ‘We have to win this or that’, we just have to do our basics right and let things take care of themselves.”
After today’s match Yorkshire face three Royal London Cup home games in the space of six days, with Warwickshire the visitors on Sunday, Worcestershire on Wednesday and Nottinghamshire heading north two days later.
The entire competition up to and including the semi-finals will have been played in a block format by the time that Yorkshire return to Championship action away to Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl on June 20, with the final taking place on June 30.
Following their trio of home fixtures Yorkshire face a hat-trick of away matches at Leicestershire (May 27), Derbyshire (May 30) and Lancashire (June 5).
Their eighth and last group game is against Northants at home on June 7, with the quarter-finals taking place on June 14 and the semi-finals on June 17-18.