Why is Adil Rashid giving up first-class cricket and becoming a white ball specialist?

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Because he’s pressed for time.

Adil Rashid has signed a white-ball only contract with Yorkshire for the 2018 season. Some will say he’s looking to become a short format specialist because it’ll allow him to buy a bigger car or house or whatever, but that’s missing the point.

The point is that Rashid is not going to play Test cricket under England’s current captain. He is however going to play 20- and 50-over cricket under Eoin Morgan and so the 2019 World Cup is his overwhelming focus.

There is only so much time to hone his one-day game before then and adequate rest is likely to prove far more important than fiddling around with a red ball, bowling in a different way to different fields.

The margins are fine in international cricket. A player with 100 per cent focus on a particular goal is likely to do better than one with 90 per cent focus on it.

It’s not greed. It’s professionalism. We spelled it out with Mark Wood as the example last week. The IPL and England one-dayers take precedence over first-class cricket for anyone likely to make England’s 2019 World Cup squad.

Another example

This month’s Wisden Cricket Monthly features an interview with Jason Roy in which he says he’s “ready” to play Test cricket.

He’s wrong, but only in the sense that you can only really perfect something if you actually practise it. Seven first-class innings between September 2016 and July 2018 will not amount to much practice.

Given a bit more experience, a bit more game-time, a few more hours instilling the decision-making that is such a key part of long format batting, Roy would surely make the grade as a Test cricketer.

So would Jos Buttler. So would Alex Hales. All those who dismiss these players as one-day specialists miss what they could become were they playing in a different environment.

The ECB doesn’t care

The ECB doesn’t give a shit. The England and Wales Cricket Board is happy to sacrifice these players’ long format opportunities because it means they’ll be fully-focused on the 2019 World Cup and the 2019 World Cup is The Big Thing right now. Everything else is secondary.

As far as the ECB’s concerned, the players are just ‘human resources’. If you play for England’s 50-over side and you want a more diverse career, you’re going to have to find a way of fighting for that yourself – but don’t come crying to the ECB if someone wholly committed to one-day cricket leapfrogs you.

This is modern cricket

The weighting towards short format cricket is particularly acute in England right now due to the home World Cup looming on the horizon, but this is still the fundamental situation throughout the world at all times. The fixture list is sufficiently congested that tough decisions have to be made and nine times out of ten first-class cricket will come out on the wrong side. A major consequence of that is that Test cricket also loses out.

Many will feel that nations are still putting out their best Test teams, but they are only putting out what’s best when viewed from a single moment in time when many of the country’s most talented players have already been reluctantly siphoned off into mono- or bi-format careers.

The benefit of first-class cricket for short format ‘specialists’

As a slightly less bleak conclusion to this article, we’d like to put forward a notion that could see the odd high profile cricketer actively seek out first-class cricket to improve their game. That notion is base training.

Four-day cricket offers a lot of game time. It offers hours at the crease and overs bowled and surely helps players groove their game in a less pressured environment. In that Wisden Cricket Monthly article, Roy says that his few games for Surrey last year helped him regain rhythm. Perhaps left to lash out in short format purgatory, that rhythm never would have returned.

It’s sometimes said that there are three main variables involved in training. The first two – frequency and intensity – are easy enough to find in short format cricket. Who knows, Adil Rashid may find himself wanting when it comes to the third one – volume.


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  1. Flash forward to June 2019. The England team is struck by food poisoning on the morning of the first match, which they lose.

    Consumed by the pressure, they proceed to crash out at the group stage.

    It has all been for nothing.

    Oh how we will laugh.

    1. Yes, if they do awfully in this World Cup it would actually be the funniest result yet.

      Sometimes you really have to build up to a gag for maximum impact, like how they developed that whole enormous Star Wars thing over a period of decades, all hinging on the moment Anakin Skywalker ‘turned’ and then delivered the fateful moment thus:


      1. It is all beautifully set-up for Morgan to be sacked at the end of the 2019 world cup and for Buttler to take over, who will in turn be sacked after 2023

    2. “At the 2015 World Cup, we sacked our captain before the tournament began. The fact that we didn’t sack anyone until after the tournament shows a clear progression, and we remain confident of using the next 4 years to build for a successful 2023 campaign”

  2. This whole build for 2019 thing has two possible conclusions.

    England stink it up as usual, and it was all for nothing.

    England win/heroically lose in the knockouts. Then what? Build for 2023? It is a tournament in India, which immediately means that winning it is a lot less likely , and it is in a format that you wouldn’t really want to say with confidence will be particularly relevant in 5 years time. Or go back to only caring about the Ashes, which Australia look far more likely to win in England than England do in Australia?

    I’m all for prioritizing something (particularly something that you have been traditionally rubbish at), but England seem to have put too many chips on one tournament for me and have no clue what happens at the end of the 2019 summer – no Ashes for 30 months, and probably no WC hosting until 2028. The Test team has more holes every season and the selections and results suggest they care about international T20 for a fortnight every 4 years.

    God, I’ve depressed myself.

      1. But how do you prep for that? There’s naff all IT20, and what there is usually has 4 or 5 players rested from it. I think you are sort of right, but it will be bundled up in the new domestic tournament which pushes the national side to the margins even more

  3. I foresee a schism. In sports, the talent follows the money. It seems football players would rather win the champions league than play for their countries. How long can it be until players or one of the National associations (probably the BCCI) turn round and say they can’t be arsed with the long format that few pay to watch outside English test matches? Who can blame the Woods and Rashids for making hay in a short career, particularly as it’s becoming abundantly clear that they’re not being supported to play 1st class.

    I can see another Packer moment on the horizon and the game splitting in two. As referenced yesterday it’s becoming separate sports anyway. And unlike rugby I like both.

    1. There is more to this in case of bowlers such as Rashid.
      It is obviously not for money, because he is not picked for IPL
      He also says, it is not about results but about enjoying the game.

      Now why does LOcricket make Rashid happy & why does first class cricket make him miserable?

      A rare bad ball in first class cricket is very costly, especially when you are bowling as a team to a plan not to let pressure of the batsman. But in limited overs cricket, you can afford to be attacking as a bowler without bothering about occasional bad balls.
      Rashid probably needs support of his cricketing skills required for FC, and he feels it is too much of an ask, and he can’t be arsed enough for that?

      1. That’s an astute point. There’s probably some truth in the attitudes to his bowling in the different formats and how he consequently feels about his work. We’d imagine that’s contributory, along with the infamous “grind” of county cricket.

        He’s presumably concluded that he’d be happier preparing for (and resting after) one fewer format. Given that, he was never going to retain the only one in which he has no chance of representing England and where he would play more than half his matches on pitches that disproportionately favour seam bowling.

  4. It’s happening in Australia too, was just reading an article about Billy Stanlake which amongst other things had the the following quotes:

    “Australian pace sensation Billy Stanlake is set to go another season without playing first-class cricket but remains optimistic he can build towards a long international career.”

    “The 23-year-old is desperate to add to his two first-class matches but this week confirmed he won’t play any part in Queensland’s remaining Sheffield Shield campaign.”

    “The important thing for me at the moment is I’m playing a lot of white-ball cricket and I’m really enjoying it.”

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