Adil Rashid admits that he has lost the “buzz” when it comes to playing Championship cricket, after speaking out for the first time about his decision to accept a white-ball-only contract with Yorkshire this summer.
Rashid, who is an integral part of England’s plans in both 50-over and 20-over cricket, particularly leading into next year’s World Cup on home soil, was overlooked for selection in this winter’s Ashes, in spite of being the team’s leading wicket-taker on the Test tour of Bangladesh and India in 2016-17.
However, he insisted that that omission had not been a significant factor in his switch to a white-ball focus. Instead, he said that his “heart would not have been there” had he carried on turning out for Yorkshire in Championship contests, and he feared letting his county down had he done so.
“It’s very much my decision,” Rashid said. “It’s something that I’ve thought about and felt I had to do, and has been inside me for a little while.
“The enjoyment, the spark, the buzz. All that came into it. I couldn’t go through another season doing this — it could affect my performance, my bowling and that could easily rub off into other competitions and white-ball stuff.”
Rashid’s relationship with Championship cricket has been under scrutiny for some time, ever since he controversially made himself unavailable for Yorkshire’s title showdown with Middlesex at Lord’s in 2016, citing “fatigue and family reasons”. Yorkshire went on to lose the match, and their chance to secure a third County Championship title in as many seasons.
“Last year playing red-ball cricket for Yorkshire, my thought was that if I wasn’t giving 100 percent then I would be letting the team down and also myself down,” he said. “It was a decision made purely because of how I felt playing red-ball cricket at this time. My mind’s not there, my heart’s not there, I’m letting the team down but also myself down.”
Rashid’s stance puts his Test career on indefinite hold, with his 10-match haul of 38 wickets at 42.78 hinting at what might have been. With Alex Hales also choosing a white-ball contract with Nottinghamshire this week, and others – notably Liam Plunkett and David Willey – reported to be considering similar moves, there is a concern in English circles that this trend could mark the beginning of a schism in the domestic game.
“Yes, maybe that’s the way the game’s going,” Rashid said. “Personally, when I made that decision, I didn’t think about that — ‘Oh, people might follow, what if [they do]?’. That’s not my job, what people do or how they feel or ‘you may follow me or not follow me’. I just made the decision purely because of how I felt. If people want to follow — ‘he did that, so we can do it’ — then that’s their decision.”
However, Rashid made the important point that his own decision had been influenced to a large degree by the itinerary of the county season, with the majority of red-ball matches being squeezed to the beginning and end of the season. This leaves spinners in particular as bystanders for long periods of seam-dominated games, but Rashid said that he would reconsider his position in 2019 if the fixtures were more favourable.
“That was a big part of it,” he said. “Early season, I may not bowl much. A couple of overs here and there. Doing that, I wouldn’t get my rhythm — two overs before lunch, a few overs before tea. That wouldn’t help my confidence. At the stage, I’d just be going through the motions.
“It’s not a permanent thing. It’s for this season, to see how it goes, how it unfolds and what happens. See what my mind says and what my heart feels. If it changes I could be going back to red ball cricket next season. That’s a long way away, and a lot can change. At this moment in time I’m very content with what I’m doing.”