I HAVE used this sort of analogy only recently but, at the risk of repeating myself and lapsing into laziness, it best sums up my feelings on the matter.
So I invite you to consider the following...
Imagine if I telephoned my sports editor one day – or else simply dug him sharply in the ribs – and said: “You know what, I’ve been having a bit of a think, old boy.
“This season, I’m only going to cover Yorkshire CCC in white-ball cricket. I’m afraid you’ll have to find somebody else to cover the red-ball games.”
“Er, er, what do you mean?” he replies. “We pay you to cover all the Yorkshire matches. You can’t just pick and choose the ones you want to do.”
“Yeah, I know, but if I was to carry on doing that, something inside me would have said, I’m just covering these red-ball games because I have to and I can’t just go through the motions like that. Look, I’m sorry, but that’s just the way it is.”
In my view, it is an insult to the public to expect them to fork out their hard-earned money to see players who only want to play for their counties when it suits them.Chris Waters
Preposterous? Absurd? Unacceptable? Disgraceful? All of those things and more.
Yet it is exactly what Adil Rashid has said to Yorkshire by saying that he is only going to play white-ball cricket for them this season after deciding to turn his back on the red-ball game, thus suddenly leaving them without his services in the County Championship less than two months before the start of the new season.
In the “real world”, assuming that professional sport can be excluded from that nebulous term, it simply could not happen and would never be tolerated; no employee could possibly hope to suddenly change their contract in such a way and leave their employer having to scratch around to find somebody else to do their job.
Indeed, if I was running Yorkshire CCC instead of running after them with a notebook in one hand and a standard issue Yorkshire Post pencil in the other, I would tell Rashid that his services were no longer needed – and that is coming from one of his biggest admirers and supporters down the years, someone who has marvelled at his skill to spin a leg-break and who believes that he should have played many more Tests for England.
Indeed, Brian Sellers, the famously autocratic former Yorkshire cricket chairman, would have had the player out of the door faster than you could say “Indian Premier League” – that is if Sellers had not already shown it to him after Rashid missed the Championship decider against Middlesex two years ago due to a family situation.
It is a poorly-kept secret that Rashid’s insistence that he could not take part in that game due to a family illness was not universally appreciated by a club hardly unsympathetic to personal issues, although they have never said so publicly and, no doubt, never will.
But if Rashid’s commitment on that occasion was questioned behind closed doors, it is seemingly only scantily present now after he effectively decided to pursue the money-spinning T20 franchise route instead of trying to help Yorkshire win their third Championship in five years.
Indeed, that Rashid is still on the staff can only be viewed as a marriage of convenience, with the player needing to keep his hand in, so to speak, and Yorkshire needing all the help they can get after 16 years without a white-ball trophy.
To that effect, I have some sympathy with Yorkshire – not least because this is hardly likely to be an isolated occurrence.
During the next few years, more counties will, no doubt, find themselves in similar situations as players pursue the T20 loot (mostly while spuriously claiming that they are primarily interested in trying to improve their white-ball skills), and it would set a damaging and self-defeating precedent to cut ties with such individuals.
But it is a risk that I believe is worth taking for the simple reason that the game must always come first, along with those spectators who pay their hard-earned cash to fund and support it.
In my view, it is an insult to the public to expect them to fork out their hard-earned money to see players who only want to play for their counties when it suits them.
It should be all or nothing in such situations – in this case, nothing.
When I say that I have admired and supported Rashid down the years, I rather understate the point.
Indeed, I have enjoyed watching him as much as any cricketer in the world, given his unique style and the fact that he bowls leg-spin, that most beautiful and bewitching of arts.
But I cannot condone his actions in this instance, no matter that his hopes of getting back into the Test side were slim – although by no means over had he opted to fight for his place.
I think that they are wrong and that Yorkshire and their supporters deserve better.