Why England’s ‘ridiculous’ gamble could be masterstroke
ADIL Rashid's shock call-up to Test cricket may have enraged several England greats, from Geoffrey Boycott to Michael Vaughan, who slammed it as 'ridiculous'.
Rashid was picked in England's squad to face India despite the leg-spinner being inactive in red-ball cricket - a decision made by himself, and not through misfortune at the selection table.
But despite his recall arguably disrespecting county cricket and the processes almost every other England Test cricketer in history has abided by, there are some numbers that show method behind the madness.
The first Test of the series begins on Wednesday night at Edgbaston, where Rashid has played in limited-overs cricket just a handful of times, but to devastating effect.
Since 2014, no player has taken more wickets at the ground for England in white-ball cricket than Rashid.
Rashid has played in three ODIs at the ground, taking ten wickets at a ruthless average of just 13 runs, including figures of 4-41 against Australia in June 2017.
In his most recent trip to Edgbaston last month, Rashid took 3-27 in a T20I against Australia.
The performance took his overall white-ball tally at the ground for England to 13 wickets at 12.08.
James Anderson is the only player this century who has taken more than 13 wickets for England at Edgbaston in limited-overs cricket, although he took nine innings to amass his 16 wickets at 21.68.
Now Rashid is in line to play his first Test at the ground - and in all of England - having previously represented his nation ten times on the subcontinent, and not once since 2016.
The Test cull led to the 30-year-old focusing his attention on 50-over and 20-over formats and signing a white-ball only contract with Yorkshire in February.
He soon found career-best form and promptly threw his hat into the Test selection ring, saying he'd consider returning to the red-ball game if "selectors come and show faith".
Selectors duly obliged Rashid's plea last week before Vaughan - who also played for Yorkshire - publicly criticised his recall.
"So we have picked someone who cannot be arsed with 4 day cricket for the Test Team ... Forget whether he is good enough or not I find this decision ridiculous," Vaughan tweeted.
Vaughan, along with the likes of fellow former England captain Nasser Hussain and seamers Matthew Hoggard and Darren Gough, were furious with selectors for allowing Rashid to bypass county cricket on his way back into the Test side.
Hoggard called it a "kick in the teeth for county cricket", while Hussain said the selection "sends a bad message".
"It's a dangerous road to go down. I understand why the selectors have done it. But it just shows where we are with spin," Hussain told Sky Sports.
"We're going round in circles - from Rashid to Moeen Ali, Zafar Ansari, Gareth Batty, Mason Crane, Jack Leach, Dom Bess, Liam Dawson and now we're back to Rashid."
Another impressive performance at Edgbaston won't actually prove Rashid's critics wrong, but may go a long way in subduing the chorus of disapproval.