Yorkshire County Cricket Club’s 13-man squad to face Middlesex at Lord’s in the most important game of their season has provoked howls of protest and got everyone talking.
The stakes could not be higher. Win against Middlesex and a third successive County Championship is in the bag and so the welcome availability of Adil Rashid, released by England, was a boost – right up until when he made himself unavailable.
The reason given in the Yorkshire County Cricket Club release suggested a fit international cricketer who wanted to avoid a heavy workload just before departing on tour to Bangladesh:
‘Adil Rashid has requested to be rested ahead of a busy winter schedule with England.’
It appeared to be unprecedented. England cricketers are managed under the conditions of their full or incremental contracts and routinely prevented from playing county cricket in the interests of the national side.
But, this was Rashid choosing not to play for Yorkshire in a match that means everything to his home county – cue frothing indignation on social media, indirectly made worse by Jonny Bairstow not being allowed to play – and wanting to.
I thought there might be more to this so I got on the phone to Adil and he gave his side of the story:
“I had some family issues that weren’t resolved which was not mentioned in a tweet or in the media which I was quite upset about.”
Rashid wanted to stress that:
“For me, family comes first regardless of cricket so I stood strong in my decision. I have family issues that I need to be home for, regardless of the Championship title.”
I wonder if this may change the initial reaction to the news, given this fresh angle to the story.
Steve Patterson had to leave a match due to family reasons recently and no-one understandably blinked an eye about that.
However, to muddy the waters, Yorkshire Coach Jason Gillespie told ESPNCricinfo: “I’m obviously frustrated about Rash and I said to him I hope he doesn’t regret the decision he has made. But I fully respect the decision. He has played a lot of cricket and he feels he needs a rest.”
I needn’t point out that this is significantly different to having a family emergency that prevents you from playing.
You can imagine the decision to withdraw was a tough conversation between him and Jason Gillespie and Andrew Gale given the ability of Rashid in a must-win game:
“They (Yorkshire) wanted me to play. I wanted to play too but in some circumstances, you just can’t play.”
I don’t do sensationalism or conspiracy theories here on Cricket Yorkshire but this felt like it needed due attention given the profile of the player in question, what the game means to the whole of Yorkshire and the reasons seemingly not matching up.
As the Sunday afternoon unfolded, I was asked a few times and pondered myself, if this could harm – or even end – Rashid’s career at Yorkshire?
When I put it to Adil that his decision could have ramifications, he was bullishly optimistic:
“I don’t think it should. There should be no consequences especially after speaking to Gillespie and Gale. They were normal about it. There was no grief. There was no ‘if you don’t play then you’re not going to get selected.”
So there you go. Clarity of a sort.
It does raise the question of whether Rashid asked to be rested by England too – something I wasn’t able to clarify with him.
It could conceivably mean he delays linking up with England or has to return from the tour at some point.
It is a shame for fans, whatever the underlying cause, that Rashid wasn’t on Monday’s team coach to London but the squad they have picked has the ability and nous to go to Lord’s and win – and I hope they pull it off.
Steve Patterson returns to the squad, Plunkett and Willey are available and Jack Leaning is in the mix for a batting spot, given Jake Lehmann’s unavailability after South Australia requested his recall earlier than expected.
HOW CAN YOU WATCH MIDDLESEX VS YORKSHIRE?
If you are planning on travelling down to Lord’s to watch those eventful days unravel then you’re in for a treat.
Alternatively, fans who can’t make it will be able to follow the game via Twitter with the @Yorkshireccc match tweets, on BBC Radio Leeds with Dave Callaghan or live on Sky Sports.
Yorkshire’s 13-man squad to face Middlesex: Ballance, Bresnan, Brooks, Gale, Hodd, Lees, Lyth, Patterson, Plunkett, Rafiq, Sidebottom, Leaning, Willey.