Chris Waters: England have betrayed the county game with Adil Rashid decision

WHERE does one start?

About turn: Yorkshire's Adil Rashid.
About turn: Yorkshire's Adil Rashid.

In the first instance, I was very sorry to see Adil Rashid give up red-ball cricket.

He has always been one of my favourite players and I believe that he should have played many more Tests for England, and have written so several times.

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English leg-spinners with 490 first-class wickets to their name – to go with 6,577 runs – do not grow on trees.

Yet Rashid has played only 10 Tests, a figure set to rise after his call-up for next week’s match against India at Edgbaston.

So, why am I not turning cartwheels of joy that he has been called up for that game?

Because Rashid took a decision last February, unwisely in my view, to turn his back on red-ball cricket – in other words, not to pursue his Test ambitions or to play County Championship cricket for Yorkshire.

Instead, he chose to concentrate solely on white-ball cricket, the one-day and T20 formats, in which he has lately been proving his worth to England in particular, resulting in his left-field selection for the Test squad.

My personal opinion, along with that of Darren Gough and many others, is that Yorkshire should not have acceded to Rashid’s demands.

As Gough put it: “If I were Yorkshire, I would say, ‘off you go, mate’. I’m hugely disappointed in him; it’s a ridiculous decision.”

But Yorkshire were mindful, first and foremost, of their own situation – they have not won a one-day competition for 16 years, after all – and renegotiated the player’s terms, with a view to reassessing at the end of the summer.

It led to some lively discussion at the club’s annual meeting in March, when the lingering disquiet at Rashid’s non-appearance in the Championship decider of 2016 was also evident – another story.

Okay. The respective decisions were made, both Yorkshire’s and Rashid’s, and everyone knew where they stood – or at least thought that they did.

Now Rashid is suddenly unavailable to Yorkshire after this weekend to play white-ball cricket because he is, instead, going to be playing red-ball cricket for England – a situation so laughable that it would bring a smile to the face of a domestic cat.

In some ways, this latest twist harms Rashid, never mind Yorkshire.

It makes him look silly – it is hard for any player to turn down an approach from his country.

We could yet have the farcical situation, in fact, of Rashid having a poor match at Edgbaston – and there is no guarantee that the Test player will be the same as the one-day player – and being dropped from the England side, only to then sit out the rest of the Championship campaign in which he has no interest in participating.

Can you imagine how the Yorkshire supporters would react – indeed are reacting – to a man who is effectively saying: “I’ll play red-ball for England, but not for Yorkshire”?

Whatever one’s thoughts on Yorkshire’s decision to keep Rashid (and a new white-ball deal for next year is on the table but not yet signed), they have been placed in an invidious position by national selector Ed Smith and the England hierarchy.

Why, the club even signed a leg-spinner on loan for this week’s Championship game against Lancashire to do Rashid’s old job in the form of Warwickshire’s Josh Poysden, whose stay they hope to extend with a view to a permanent arrangement.

But between Poysden’s recruitment and his actual appearance, the Rashid for England situation reared its head, with the player admitting in a column for Sky Sports last week that he would be open to overtures to return to Test cricket after it was indicated that Smith planned to speak to him.

This same Smith, in announcing the squad for next week’s Test, attempted to deflect criticism by saying that Rashid had to have a four-day contract next year to be considered for the 2019 Ashes, absurdly adding that: “moving forward, England Test players must be committed to the County Championship”, as though that prerequisite did not apply on this occasion.

Unsurprisingly, condemnation of Rashid’s call-up has been fierce.

Michael Vaughan tweeted: “So we have picked someone who cannot be a**ed with 4 day cricket for the Test Team… Forget whether he is good enough or not I find this situation ridiculous … !!!”

Sadly, in a climate in which the game’s governing body can seriously advocate 100-ball cricket, amid talk of five-ball overs and 15-a-side matches, it is palpably obvious that anything goes.

The ECB have betrayed county cricket and its spectators, they have betrayed Yorkshire cricket, and, as this latest episode proves, they are no longer fit for purpose.