ADIL RASHID has said that his hunger to play County Championship cricket has returned but stressed that he does not regret his decision to quit that form of the game last summer.
Rashid negotiated a white-ball only contract with Yorkshire last year, saying that his heart was no longer in the red-ball format.
His decision was criticised by such as former team-mate Darren Gough, who said that Yorkshire should have told him: “Off you go.”
At the time, Rashid said that it was not necessarily a permanent move, and by August he found himself back playing red-ball again after being chosen by England for the Test series against India.
England’s decision to call him up – despite not having played any first-class cricket for almost 11 months – was in itself criticised as a slap in the face to aspiring county players, with national selector Ed Smith forced to insist that Rashid must have a red-ball county deal going forward to remain under consideration for Tests.
He duly signed a new one-year all-format deal with Yorkshire in September, but after playing in all three Tests in Sri Lanka before Christmas, Rashid lost his place after the first Test against the West Indies in January.
It has thrown into doubt his participation in this summer’s Ashes, which starts in August, and raised the prospect of him playing again for Yorkshire in the Championship once the World Cup has ended in July.
Asked whether the hunger is there to play four-day county cricket again, Rashid – who misses the first two Championship games with a shoulder injury but is due to return to one-day cricket from mid-April – said: “Yes, it’s there. I wouldn’t have signed a contract with Yorkshire, or a central contract with England, if it wasn’t. For this year I’ve signed that and we’ll see what happens going forward.
“If I’m not playing in the Ashes, then I’ll be available (for Championship cricket).”
Rashid, 31, has an excellent first-class record – 512 wickets at 35 and 6,822 runs at 32.
But the Bradford-born leg-spinner makes no apology for taking a break from that form of the sport.
“I’ve no regrets; I never regret,” he said. “There were people out there when I made that decision who were against it, and there were people who said that I should have played for Yorkshire, or that Yorkshire should have thrown me out, and so on.
“They can say as they please. That’s up to them. They can do what they want. That’s got nothing to do with me. That doesn’t affect me in any way, shape or form.
“They can be negative and whatever, but as soon as things turn around, they’re the same people that will change their story and change their ways, so in that sense it doesn’t affect me what people say. I’ve got no regrets whatsoever.”
Rashid believed it was better to be honest with Yorkshire than to go through the motions.
“Sometimes it’s not about pleasing other people, it’s about pleasing yourself,” he said. “See how you feel about things yourself.
“It you feel as though you’re not going to give 100 per cent, or if you feel in a difficult situation, then you either tell somebody and say how you feel or you don’t.
“It can’t just be, ‘No, no, other people want you to play so you have to play’. But you may not want to do that because you feel differently.
“You’ve got to go with your own gut feel at the end of the day. It’s your career. Maybe if you don’t play for a little while you can come back stronger and you’ve got that hunger again.”
Although he would never say so himself, Rashid’s situation has perhaps not been helped by England’s apparent reluctance to pick him for Test cricket over the years. Nineteen Test appearances represents a somewhat paltry return for one so talented, with Rashid one of the most attractive players of his generation.
“I’m not really frustrated,” he said. “I’ve played 19 Tests now, and I’m just grateful for having played those. I’m happy with how it’s gone. I’m fairly easy-going in that sense.”
Rashid will be a key figure in the World Cup as England seek to justify their favourites tag.
“We’ve got a good chance,” he said. “In the past three or four years we’ve played some really good one-day cricket. The World Cup is no different, it’s just a tournament. Hopefully, we can do our skills and put the work in, stick to our game-plans and see what happens.”
Yorkshire and England all-rounder David Willey has pulled out of his Indian Premier League deal with Chennai Super Kings as his wife is due to give birth.
Willey hopes to return to county action in mid-April.