Adil Rashid and poor growing conditions

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Break a leg, Adil Rashid

Being a young leg-spinner involves being told you’re amazing when you’re not. When you get a bit older and you seem a little less exciting, people tell you that you’re rubbish when you’re not. If you can bat as well, the extra novelty magnifies that first bit and also the contrast with the second bit. Such is life.

How old do you think Adil Rashid is? Don’t look it up; we’re going to tell you in the next sentence. He’s 25.

There’s a feeling that Adil Rashid’s progress has stagnated (perhaps he’s even regressed) but this is perhaps understandable as his confidence has taken a few knocks while those around him have been recalibrating their expectations. Confidence probably has a bigger impact on the performances of leg-spinners than it does on those who practise more prosaic forms of bowling and Rashid’s has been hammered because he has unavoidably let people down.

A leg-spinner short of confidence can serve up some real shod, but even one in form can often start a spell with a fair chunk of it before things settle down. How does a captain distinguish between rhythm-finding shod and the kind that’s there to stay? He just has to have faith really. Even when treated sympathetically, a young leg-spinner cannot always justify that faith.

It makes you wonder how anyone can ever find themselves bowling leg-spin at a high level. The world presents such a hostile environment. On the other hand, if a bowler can conquer this, you can be sure that you have a cricketer of rare resilience.

Perhaps this in itself has added to the reputation of the leg-spinner. When they do make it to the very top, they tend to be special, so we hope against hope that every young practitioner has all the right stuff. We see what we want to see, even though it (currently) isn’t there.

Adil Rashid hit a hundred yesterday, but expectations regarding his bowling are currently low. Maybe they’ve bottomed-out. Maybe they’ll now rise more realistically alongside his performances as a result of that fact. Or maybe he’ll completely corner the market on shod. Maybe, maybe, maybe.


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  1. There never seems to be such a think as an OK legspinner, a James Tredwell legspinner. They’re either the best thing ever – or Chris Schofield.

    Why can’t English first-class cricket be happy with a legspinner who averages mid-30s, takes the odd five-for and forges a solid if unspectacular county career? Much like Glamorgan’s left-arm finger spinner Dean Cosker.

    Few feel Cosker’s failed because he’s not banging on England’s door. This is not the case with Rashid. (FC records: Rashid – 303w @ 35; Cosker – 510w @ 36). It’s wrist-ist.

    1. It is; it’s totally wrist-ist.

      The campaign for more journeyman leg-spinners starts here.

    2. Part of the reason is that being a good leg spinner ins really, really, really difficult. How many have really made an impact in the test arena ever (or at least since the war)? Warne, Qadir, McGill, Benaud. That’s about it.
      I would have thought that now you are allowed to chuck it would have been easier,and there would be a few more, but it seems not.

    3. Murali was a wristspinner – but his double-jointedness meant he did it the wrong way round, so bowled offspin.

      (And he did NOT chuck it – whatever the entirety of Australia thinks.)

    4. Because a leg spin delivery is so hard to control, journeyman leg-spinnery seems a bit of an oxymoron to me, like being a journeyman BASE jumper. In BASE jumping you need a certain height in order that your parachute has time to open properly. This height is considerably more than the height required to properly kill you if you fail to do it right. Meaningful progressive experience is therefore difficult. You are either a fully-fledged BASE jumper, or you aren’t a BASE jumper at all.

      (I suppose it is theoretically possible that you are a BASE jumper who is still working on the basics of technique, but this is an extremely short-term state to find yourself in.)

    5. I didn’t suggest that Murali chucked,DC but as a consequence of the ruling which the investigation of his action caused, many of the next gerneration (in my opinion) do. The 15 degree rule was meant to acknowledge the bend that lots of bowlers who thought they had a straight arm were exhibiting. Now bowlers think they have fifteen degrees to play with, which is very different.

      Sam. you are quite right, most remiss of me. still not very many though.

    6. “averages mid-30s, takes the odd five-for and forges a solid if unspectacular county career?”

      Ian Salisbury?

    7. No one is going to read this reply as it’s lost in a cluster near the top, a long time after this blog lost its interest. But…

      The Smudge – wasn’t suggesting you were calling Murali a chucker but now you bring up the 15-degree rule… This wasn’t instigated to accommodate Murali – he was measured at 12-13 degrees – but to accommodate the patron saint of perfect actions Glenn McGrath. Perth Uni discovered – to its horror – that it was Mr McGrath’s action that had the highest degree of flex (15 degrees). They didn’t exactly shout about it, much happier letting received wisdom that “it was Murali’s action wot dun it” win out.

      Salisbury – proves my point. His figures are a perfect example of a journeyman spinner YET he is regarded as a failure in a way that Cosker would never be.

      Legspin is very hard but it is still possible to be OK at it without being world beating. It’s Bert’s basejumping analogy that causes the problem: as soon as county see a half-decent leggie, they think he’s the answer, the finished article, the basejumper. They put undue pressure on him to do something very hard, and he ends up rubbish.

      And you never know, if you let a half-decent spinner have a half-decent county career, they may end up world class. See Graeme Swann, maybe Monty Panesar, perhaps even James Tredwell and stretching a point Robert Croft.

      Did anyone read that?

    8. DC- yes i read it. Feel validated! It was the contaversy over Murali’s action which caused all the interest in bowling actions which led to the 15 degree rule to accomodate a range of cricketers actions. But my essential point (which, you may observe, didn’t mention Murali at all) is that, regardless of who started it, bowlers now believe they have 15 degrees of flex to play leading to some really dodgy actions. They feel they are entitled to chuck within the prescribed limits. This may not have been the intent of the rule, but they are a fairly inevitable consequence.

    9. Take your point The Smudge but I have always felt this chucking thing is an over-rated problem. What’s wrong with a bit of chucking – within a defined limit?

      As long as there is no danger to the batsman, what’s the problem? Bowlers these days need all the help they can get – particularly finger spinners – so bring on a bit of long-sleeved doosra bowling. The 15-degree limit prevents the game turning into baseball so let bowlers use it.

      Wickets are way more interesting than runs.

    10. I agree on wickets being better than runs, but your argument could equally be applied to “what’s wrong with a forth stump?” or “what’s wrong with narrower bats?” or “what’s wrong with one-bounce-one-hand catches being out?”. Just not ctricket. Who is the judge of that? Here I will resort to KC’s retort that it is my prejudice and I am sticking with it.

    11. “Your argument could equally be applied to “what’s wrong with a forth stump?””

      No it couldn’t. Making that bats more narrow or adding a stump is changing the parameters of the sport – it affects everyone and everything.

      Allowing a little throwing concerns the techniques used within those parameters – not everyone can do it, or certainly not do it well. The more skilled have an advantage – the better players win.

    12. The cricketing rule makers agree with you DC, although I don’t feel constrained to like it! We should probably leave it there as today’s discussion has moved on to masturbation puns.

    1. Not yet. It falls into a category of things I’m sure will be really good but which I simultaneously can’t bring myself to get too worked up about.

    2. I’ve just started it. It’s quite short. It’s really an essay rather than a biography.

      I bought it online and at the same time ordered Jeremy Vine’s ‘It’s All News To Me’. When they arrived in the post it was a moment that seemed to sum up my life so far.

  2. I tended to either get clattered or turn it at a right angle and play beat the bat. Well, that was when I pitched it properly. Sky-high beamers and balls that bounced at my feet before rolling to a stop halfway down the track were sadly not uncommon…

  3. It’s an interesting one actually. I bowl fairly ropey leg-spin for a village team, and like any other bowler I have good days and bad days – like any other not very good bowler, I have more bad days than good days.

    The idea of being a ‘journeyman leg-spinner’ is actually probably quite a good thing to aim for in terms of consistency. Why try to bowl the magic ball, when 6 reasonable ones is probably much more effective?

    But in the back of my mind, the question nags away: why be a journeyman leg-spinner? Isn’t that what off-spinners are for?

    Surely, it’s far better to attempt to bowl the perfect leg-break every single ball, thereby practically guaranteeing you’ll always bowl at least one rank one an over, and probably four…

    Bowling leg-spin is like watching James Anderson in his early days – unimaginably frustrating but a pretty amazing feeling when it works.

    Also, I blame bad captains, seaming pitches, new balls, poor fielding, and anything else that springs to mind…

  4. It saddens me that Shahid Afridi is conspicuously absent in this discussion.

  5. Graeme Swann was lauded when he was a nipper, then vanished into county championship near-obscurity with ordinary returns.

    He gradually got better and achieved his first test match chance just shy of turning 30.

    Spinners are often late developers. Off-spinners, left arm spinners and leg-spinners alike.

    I won’t be at all surprised if Adil Rashid has a late but high-achieving England career as abowler and/or all-rounder. We might have a few more years to wait, that’s all.

    1. Seconded. Most spinners, especially wrist spinners, hit their peak later in their career. Not worth being too concerned over Rashid. Yet.

  6. I too was lauded as a young spinner before fallin away. I now have about 18 months in which to make my Test debut before I’m 30.

    1. I’m still reeling from the “…before I’m 30” line. Can’t we add some age filters, KC?

    2. We always assumed the 1990s computer game references would weed out the teenagers and 20-somethings.

    1. Your writing like your bowling, eh Sam?

      Five or six letters delivered in the right areas, but then the odd one doesn’t even land on the strip.

      Mine too. (Writing and bowling).

    2. I hope the umpire wasn’t so uncharitable as to no-ball you and/or warn you for that. Political correctness gone mad, that would be. And/or health and safety gone mad.

    3. Yes it was a no-ball. But she was a tough girl. She was their only not-out batter (sorry. Batswoman?) and their best bowler.

  7. I bowled leg spin to a reasonable enough level to get some Essex colts games from it. I then got shit, so turned myself into a shotless opening batsman that bowls some filthy non-turning off spin. If you are chasing around 90 in 45 overs or want someone to lob up some grenades with 3 long ons in position, I am now my clubs go to guy.

    Just something for Adil to think about.

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