Sir Ian Botham weighed into the ongoing argument over Adil Rashid’s England Test call-up by saying he was firmly on the side of the under-fire Yorkshire leg-spinner.
On Thursday, Rashid was included in a 13-man group picked for the first Test against India next week, despite choosing to turn his back on red-ball cricket earlier this year for his county.
The decision to hand him his first Test call since 2016 has been met with criticism, while Rashid himself has got into a war of words with former England captain and Yorkshire batsman Michael Vaughan, labelling him “stupid” following what he felt was a negative newspaper column about his controversial selection.
The 30-year-old, who took 1-19 for Yorkshire Vikings in their rain-affected 31-run Vitality T20 Blast win against Birmingham Bears at Headingley last night, has excelled for his country in white-ball cricket this summer and caused India’s best batsmen continuous problems in the recent one-day international series.
His last appearance in the longest format of the game was also against India, where he did well in a losing overseas cause before being surprisingly overlooked in subsequent Test series.
Last night, former England all-rounder Botham backed the decision of the England selectors to recall Rashid.
His bowling has come on leaps and bounds so I wish him all the very, very best. I have seen some pretty ridiculous stuff written over the last couple of days and I am very much on his side.Sir Ian Botham on Adil Rashid
“I hope he does really well, I like the kid, he is very intense, always wanting to do better with his bowling,” said Botham.
“His bowling has come on leaps and bounds so I wish him all the very, very best.
“I have seen some pretty ridiculous stuff written over the last couple of days and I am very much on his side.
“It is the best conditions for him. The pitches are going to be dry and I am pretty certain he will get purchase out of them and Edgbaston does turn anyway.”
Rashid appeared to end his Test career when he signed a white-ball contract for Yorkshire earlier this year, meaning he has not played with red-ball cricket since 2017.
Botham has described the white-ball contracts as “bull” and wants to see the best players playing for the Test team.
“I find it quite bizarre,” he added. “Adil wanted to play white-ball cricket, he has bowled exceptionally well and in the last two series he played in Test cricket he bowled very well.
“Then for some reason England messed him around a bit I felt at the time.
“He took the option, he has now bowled extremely well, they said ‘look come in for this series we would like you to play’, then I hear later on that they have told him if you don’t sign up to a four-day contract for next year you can’t play.
“Excuse me, if that is the attitude why is he playing now? They make it difficult for themselves.
“He is now on top of his game, he has come to terms with his game and how he should perform and I am really happy he is back in there.
“England should be playing their best players regardless of white-ball or red-ball contracts. If he is an English-qualified player and he can play – play. Cut all the bull out.”
Earlier in the day, in an interview with BBC Sport, Rashid claimed Vaughan was “talking nonsense” after he claimed in his national newspaper column that the Yorkshireman’s Test recall was a “stab in the back for county cricket.”
Rashid said: “When I mentioned at the start of the year I will not be playing red-ball cricket, he tweeted something then.
“He was being controversial and saying his stupid things then too. I don’t think he has an agenda against me. I played under and with him but sometimes ex-players come out and start talking nonsense about current players.
Vaughan was far from the only critical voice, with Yorkshire chief executive Mark Arthur admitting the county were “very surprised” by Rashid’s recall.
The player responded by casting doubt on his future at Headingley.
“They might be disappointed for various reasons, but it would have been nice if the chief executive or head coach could have said, ‘Well done, congratulations on being selected, good on you’, as opposed to being angry and upset for not playing red-ball cricket for them, even though I told them I would not be doing so,” added Rashid.
“I did not do anything wrong in that sense. There is no reason for Yorkshire to react like this.”
It was not something I expected or wanted. It would have been nice to have got the support from your county or the people close to you, but if they do not want to give their support, that is their problem.
“I don’t need anybody’s support in that situation. I know what I want to do and achieve.
“If I give 100 per cent and it goes well, it goes well. If it doesn’t then I will still be happy.
“If they treat me like they have done, don’t see any value in me and are disrespectful to me, I have to think about the future in terms of which county I play for.”
National selector Ed Smith has made it clear that in order to be eligible for Test selection next year Rashid must return to the four-day game domestically.