IT IS safe to assume that England’s patience regarding Adil Rashid is probably starting to wear a little thin.
After toiling in Dhaka, the Yorkshire leg-spinner is under heavy-duty pressure ahead of the forthcoming series in India – having been England’s most expensive bowler in the recent series in Bangladesh.
Rashid retains support from England head coach Trevor Bayliss, who feels that as a bowler, he is capable of beating both sides of the bat, at his best. But if anyone needs a performance – presuming Rashid gets the nod in the series opener in Rajkot on Wednesday – then it is the quietly-spoken Bradfordian.
When you are struggling for form as a Test leg-spinner, India represents perhaps the most daunting hurdle to overcome.
Even the incomparable Shane Warne, the greatest ‘leggie’ of them all, struggled in India, where his average was a decidedly ordinary 43.11.
But Rashid, who failed his final audition in his quest to build confidence and cement his place in the starting line-up in the recent second Bangladeshi Test in Dhaka, must find a way fast, if chosen.
The promising debut of Zahar Ansari in Dhaka has further piled pressure on Rashid, with the left-armer’s ability to spin the ball away from right-handers representing a potential weapon, given the number of right-handers in the Indian top-order.
It remains to be seen what transpires, but Yorkshire director of cricket Martyn Moxon is sure upon one thing regarding Rashid.
Namely, that he needs to keep it simple to break any potential clouds in mind and concentrate on spinning the ball as opposed to what pace he is bowling at and the amount of ‘revs’ he puts on the ball.
A common lament regarding Rashid is that he bowls too slowly at international level. Moxon, for his part, prefers to accentuate the positives and focus on Rashid’s potential to deliver wicket-taking balls as opposed to delving into the pace debate.
On Rashid, who claimed five wickets on his Test debut in Adu Dhabi last year, Moxon said: “On the face of it with the pitches that England have played on (in Bangladesh), you would have hoped he (Rashid) would have got more wickets. But again, I think there seems to be this thing about the pace he is bowling, for me.
“With Adil, it is just about him bowling his best ball – and his best ball is his natural pace. I think there is too much talk about the pace he is bowling rather than him concentrating on spinning the ball.
“I would like him to get back to keeping things very simple and just getting back to spinning the ball and trusting his natural pace.
“There will have to be improvement with the ball and the bat in India. Particularly with the spinners, who have got to find their form and we will have to see which spinners that they are going to use. With Rash in particular, it is about getting back to spinning the ball and not worrying about the pace.”
England head to Rajkot with the equivalent of their tails between their legs following a chastening defeat in Dhaka.
As preparations go for a five-Test series against the side currently ranked as the world’s best, it was as bad as it gets.
Dire ‘Amageddon’ type warnings about England’s fate in India have already been proliferating the airwaves and newsprint.
Former captain Michael Vaughan is among the most strident, having stated that England will be “blown away” 5-0 if they do not improve with the bat.
What is not open to conjecture is the fact that spin will be king in India with England bowlers needing to find out in double-quick time how to bowl on the dustbowls of India or perish and batsmen needing to work out their method against spin.
Despite England being under the pump and nearly every pundit, to a man, tipping a comfortable India series win, Moxon believes all is not quite lost.
He said: “England have some talented players and in adversity, sometimes you rally together and come back stronger.
“It will be a huge challenge and an interesting one that I am sure England should relish.
“They have got to go there with clear plans and I think Alistair Cook has alluded to that about having game plans in terms of how they are going to bat. They have got to trust their scoring options.
“Against the spinning ball, you have got to be really positive in your movement. Once you get a bit tentative, then you are in trouble. Players will have to look to score.”