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India vs England: Adil Rashid row smears white in the last red-ball bastion

Few would have expected conversation to be dominated by a spinner in the lead up to an England home series, but leg-spinner Adil Rashid’s selection to England’s squad for the first Test has infuriated many former stars like Michael Vaughan.

cricket Updated: Jul 28, 2018 21:10 IST
N Ananthanarayanan
N Ananthanarayanan
Hindustan Times, Chelmsford
Adil Rashid,Michael Vaughan,India vs England
Adil Rashid was a surprise call-up for the England squad for the first Test against India.(AFP)

If the latest weather forecast holds good it won’t be an entirely un-English summer home Test series against India. The warm-up game against Sussex was called off in the last session due to rain on Friday and there is forecast for showers in Birmingham at the weekend, ahead of the first Test starting on Wednesday.

The sweltering heat has caught authorities and people unawares. Few homes had felt the need for even ceiling fans until now, and hospitals are reportedly rushing to fix air-conditioners. Announcements are being made on station platforms warning commuters to always carry a bottle of water to prevent dehydration. There are reports of fruits and vegetables prices shooting up.

While global warming holds sway, the English are also getting hot under the collar. Few would have expected conversation to be dominated by a spinner in the lead up to an England home series, but leg-spinner Adil Rashid’s selection to England’s squad for the first Test has infuriated many former stars like Michael Vaughan.

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Rashid’s home County Yorkshire, an epitome of tradition, was already upset he demanded an exclusive white-ball contract this season instead of boosting the team’s fortunes in the four-day game. The County is now fuming the leg-spinner, whose stocks zoomed after a leg-break got through Virat Kohli’s defences in the final ODI, will miss the T20 campaign due to the national duty.

Healthy crowds on each day of the warm-up game, many in Essex shirt, showed the value England attaches to the classical, explains the anger over Rashid and raises hopes why Test cricket may resist the winds of change for a while at least in this country. The quiet clapping for batsmen reaching a landmark or bowler taking a wicket, following every delivery in this TV-replay fuelled era are all very English.

But white ball is already dictating which direction red-ball cricket takes. New chairman of selectors, Ed Smith, is under attack for picking Rashid, but he bowed to changing times after taking charge by including Jos Buttler for the Pakistan series at home. His appears a practical response, but stalwarts are worried about the future of England’s first-class structure.

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Smith was praised belatedly after Buttler proved an inspired selection, the limited-overs specialist and IPL star saved the blushes in the drawn Test series against Pakistan with a crucial half-century in the Headingley Test to square the two-Test series.

England were found out carrying the tools of Tests into ODI and T20, but are No 1 in ODIs after buying into Irish-born limited-overs skipper Eoin Morgan’s call to embrace change and play in leagues like IPL. But things like the proposed 100-ball cricket is too much, too soon and haphazard for English pundits.

It is clear the 30-year-old Rashid has responded to an SOS call from an England team management worried the weather would hurt the bowling equation against India. Ed Smith’s announcement that his selection without playing first-class cricket was a ‘one-off’ could well prove another inspired choice if he produces match-winning spells though end-justifies-the-means don’t have too many takers in England at the moment.

First Published: Jul 28, 2018 16:51 IST