Yorkshire's Adil Rashid says specialists are the future for cricket

Adil Rashid is happy he decided to recommit to red-ball cricket, but believes English cricket will have to get used to the idea of Twenty20 specialists.

Adil Rashid

Rashid has had a turbulent 2018, initially making the surprise decision to play only limited-overs cricket for Yorkshire before being handed a controversial Test recall.

Even his county struggled to hide their surprise at that turn of events and a parting of the ways seemed inevitable until the leg-spinner agreed a new three-format deal at Headingley last month.

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Rashid’s experiences somewhat over-shadowed England team-mate Alex Hales’ decision to take a similar path at Nottinghamshire, and the 30-year-old expects it to become a more familiar route as the game continues to develop and diverge.

“There’s always the ultimate goal of playing Test cricket, playing for your country, but as time goes on things may change,” said Rashid.

“There are Twenty20 competitions all around the world, more competitions keep coming each year, and it may happen down the line that people just want to be T20 players.

“I think coaches, players, teams have got to start accepting that’s going to happen, that it’s a reality.

“It’s happening in other parts of the world, the West Indies for example, and if it happens then it happens.

“It’s about accepting it.”

Rashid is currently as central to England’s plans as he has ever been, a central cog in the 3-1 victory over Sri Lanka in the one-day series, a certainty for tomorrow’s T20 international and set for a major role in next month’s three-match Test series on spin-friendly surfaces.

It was, though, just three months ago that his former Yorkshire team-mate, and Ashes-winning England captain, Michael Vaughan labelled his Test recall “a stab in the back for the county game”.

That may have been the most colourful criticism but it was not the only one, yet Rashid insists he was able to brush off any negativity and focus on his own game.

“At the time I didn’t really feel much, I wasn’t really taking note of what people were saying,” he said.

“I don’t follow what people say about me, good or not so good. It doesn’t faze me in the sense that I knew what my task ahead was and what I want to achieve. Whatever decisions I made I know there are no regrets. I don’t look back.”

Rashid admits his career has been on a roller-coaster for much of the past year but credits focus and faith with helping him emerge unscathed.

“I’ve been playing there since 11 years old.

“In my heart that was home for me.

“To leave would have been a tough, tough decision,” he said.

“Me and Yorkshire had a real discussion and sorted things out. I’m happy I signed the contract.

“If it was five or six years ago it could have been a different story, you might get angry...things might have been said that you don’t want to say: you get anxious, you get frustrated, you get nervous. I don’t really think of any of that now.

Rashid acknowledges he may not have had the simplest of relationships with head coach Andrew Gale but is positive about their future together.

“These things happen between players and coaches. You’re always going to have ups and downs in any job,” he said.

“There’s always going to be some tension or friction. But it’s nice to know that it’s put behind us now. Hopefully we can kick on and get a good friendship.”

Rashid puts his calm outlook down in some part to his Muslim faith and also to a growing acceptance of the influential status he has as a high-profile British Asian sportsman.

“I’m a bit more relaxed over the last five or six years because I’m a bit more into my religion, which teaches you to take a day at a time and stay calm and accept whatever happens,” he said.

“With me and Mo (Moeen Ali) being role models as well...we have to set a good example for people watching.

“We’ve got a big support, especially in the Asian community, whether it’s Bradford, Birmingham or Pakistan.

“If we are in the limelight we must be showing good personalities rather than being in the papers for the wrong things.

“People look up to you so it’s about setting a good example so that when they’re coming through, they see that and know it’s achievable.”

Meanwhile, Surrey wicketkeeper Ben Foakes has been added to England’s Test squad in Sri Lanka as cover for Rashid’s Yorkshire team-mate Jonny Bairstow.

Foakes is rated as the best gloveman on the county circuit and, although uncapped, he has previous tour experience having travelled to Australia as back-up in the 2017/18 Ashes series.

His latest chance comes after Bairstow suffered ligament damage in his right ankle while playing football on the eve of the penultimate one-day international.

He has already been ruled out of tomorrow’s Twenty20 match and is being continually assessed by England medical staff ahead of the first Test in Galle on November 6.

The tourists had been keen not to carry too large a squad, with Foakes taking their number to 17 for a three-match series, but have a pair of two-day warm-ups scheduled in Colombo next week and Bairstow has no guarantee of being fit.

Jos Buttler has been doing the job in the limited-overs series but has not been at his tidiest and while other glovemen Rory Burns and Ollie Pope have kept at county level both are international rookies and England would prefer not to ask either to shoulder the burden.

Foakes will link up with the team over the weekend, while the rest of England’s Test specialists touched down in Colombo to begin acclimatisation work on Thursday afternoon.