new-England vital cog
Few who were at Scarborough in July 2006 for the third day of Yorkshire’s Championship game against Warwickshire will forget what they saw, forget the buzz and the excitement they felt. On his first-team debut, Adil Rashid, an 18 year-old leg-spinner from Bradford, took six for 67 in Warwickshire’s second innings. This was a young English leg-spinner looking to the manor born. That doesn’t happen every day. Hell, it doesn’t happen at all, period.
Thirteen years later and Rashid is arguably the best 50-over wrist-spinner in the world, an integral part of England’s team as they attempt to win their first ever global one-day trophy in a home World Cup. He’s delivering on the promise of all those years ago, the bowler now that everybody who saw him then thought he would become. But, like many, his journey has not always been straightforward.
That day in 2006, Rashid dismissed Jonathan Trott, Nick Knight and Dougie Brown, three internationals. Anthony McGrath stood at slip and remembers being taken aback by how much spin Rashid was getting. “It was really exciting because we’d not had a leg-spinner for a long time at Yorkshire,” McGrath says.
Understandably, the hype surrounding him was fever-pitch. The new Shane Warne, you say? Great. 700 Test wickets by next Wednesday, please Adil. But things rarely run smooth and even less so for teenage leg-spinners still learning their craft.
Rashid did well enough in those first few years and was an England T20 and ODI player by the middle of 2009. But understandably, he was still raw. An England set-up run by Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss had many positive aspects but indulging a sometimes erratic leg-spinner in a team which focused on relentless consistency was not one of them.
You could argue he was picked too soon. You could argue he was discarded too soon. But there’s little doubt that Rashid wasn’t handled as well as a 20-year-old leg-spinner should have been, in and out of the side, bowled for an over or two here and there. After a 2009 T20 in Centurion, South Africa’s coach, Mickey Arthur, called England’s treatment of Rashid “criminal” after he bowled one over for 25 and was not seen again.That tour was the last time Rashid played for England for six years. Graeme Swann was tearing it up and Rashid wasn’t missed. Neither was he bowling as well as he, or others, felt he should be and when Swann retired, Rashid wasn’t on England’s radar. He was frustrated – he had a public spat with Yorkshire in 2013 when he accused the captain of not backing him – and it looked for a time as if his career might simply fizzle out.To perform at his best, Rashid has always needed to be loved, to feel wanted. It may be insecurity, it may be a lack of confidence.