Yorkshire boss Martyn Moxon has urged the England and Wales Cricket Board to show more respect to the 18 first-class counties following the Adil Rashid affair.
Leg-spinner Rashid has been selected in the 13-man squad to face India at Edgbaston next week despite his self-imposed exile from county cricket.
Rashid, who won the last of his 10 Test caps in Chennai more than 18 months ago, currently only has a limited-overs contract with Yorkshire.
“Our disappointment is not that Adil has been picked for England, we wish him well and hopefully he will be successful,” Yorkshire director of cricket Moxon told BBC Radio 5 Live‘s Sportsweek programme.
“Our disappointment is more the lack of communication and consultation that we’ve had in the background to this decision, but it’s not just about Yorkshire.
“I’m the representative of the coaches and directors of cricket on the ECB cricket committee, so I speak for them in trying to get our views about the game and the challenges that we have across to the ECB.
“Although we have been affected directly in this case there are cases going on that the counties feel a little bit aggrieved that communication (from the ECB) is not as good as it should be.
“The counties want England to be successful. But at the same time England need to have a respect of dealing with us fairly as well because we provide players for them.”
Moxon said he was surprised when England national selector Ed Smith contacted him last Tuesday to tell him it was a “possibility” that Rashid could be chosen for the Edgbaston Test.
When England played India in 2016/17 Adil Rashid got 23 wickets. No other Englishman got more than 10— Tim (@timwig) July 26, 2018
Andy Flower, the ECB’s acting director of cricket, confirmed Rashid’s selection the following day, leaving Yorkshire to cope with what Moxon believes is a “crazy situation”.
“I read Ed Smith’s comments that he first broached this with Adil at the one-day international at Trent Bridge, two weeks prior to him ringing me when effectively the decision had been made,” Moxon said.
“We’ve employed Adil in good faith to play white-ball cricket for us, and now we’re coming into the final stages of the T20 competition and he’s not available.
“So it’s a crazy situation. We’re employing him to play white-ball cricket and he can’t play that for us in important games because he’s playing red-ball cricket which he did not want to play.
“Ironically, when Adil told us in February that he was going to give up red-ball cricket I said to him he was under-valuing himself. I told him with the talent he’s got he should be playing for England in all formats of the game.”
Rashid responded to criticism of his England call-up by casting doubt on his future at Headingley.
It is exactly four years ago that Buttler hit what is still his highest Test score, against these same opponents on their last tour, at his very first attempt.
In 32 subsequent innings, spread over 20 matches, he has not bettered the 85 he made on debut in the 266-run victory at Southampton.
Back then, he was keeping wicket too in Tests as well as the limited-overs formats but has returned this summer – at the behest of new national selector Ed Smith and on the back of his brilliant Indian Premier League form – as a specialist batsman, with Jonny Bairstow instead behind the stumps.
It has been a happy return so far, Buttler marking his first Tests since Chennai in December 2016 with back-to-back half-centuries in the drawn series against Pakistan.
Still, three figures evade him – and down at number seven, even with his remarkable shot-making ability, it will be no easy task to chalk off century number one.
Nonetheless, Buttler said: “It is the ultimate aim – I would love to achieve that feat.”
If he does so, he is in no doubt that in the five-match Test series against India, it will be coming on one of the biggest stages of all – comparable, he believes, to the Ashes.
“Absolutely – it is a huge series,” he added. “India are a fantastic team – in all conditions as well now.
“Australia is a huge series for England, but in this day and age India are not far behind.”
Congratulations to @jimmy9, @JetJennings and @josbuttler who have all been named in @englandcricket's squad for the first Specsavers Test match against India at Edgbaston next week.— Lancashire Lightning (@lancscricket) July 26, 2018
➡️ https://t.co/NxnYI10tlL pic.twitter.com/BuftB4zKxz
Buttler anticipates too that the high stakes will ensure IPL friendships are tested occasionally, despite India captain Virat Kohli’s observation that opposition players are more in tune with one another these days thanks to time spent together in the lucrative annual franchise tournament.
“I am sure there will be moments in the Test series, especially on the field, when those things look like they have been forgotten,” said Buttler.
“It will be highly competitive.
“What you have to remember is people can get on well, but the reason guys have got to international sport is they want to win and are competitive.”
He has great respect for Kohli, however, and especially the trained ability he shares with other superstar players to almost always play the right shot at the right time.
“They seem to make the right decision a lot of the time – that is a skill.
“The hunger really shines through in those top players.”
England will be looking to their own, such as all-time national record runscorer Alastair Cook, to measure up – and Buttler has great faith in Joe Root’s team to each do their own homework and rise to the challenge set by India’s spinners.
Kuldeep Yadav may well be lurking among them, having been chosen in India’s Test squad after proving so effective against England in the preceding white-ball encounters.
Buttler said: “Alastair Cook has a fantastic record against spin bowling.
“There will be pointers other guys can share, about (Kuldeep’s) angle of attack and pace he bowls. But until you go out in the middle and do it yourself there is only so much that stuff helps.
“You have to face people for yourself and work out your best plan individually to counteract what they do.”
And none of that is Rashid’s fault.
Sure, he took a white-ball-only contract with Yorkshire this year, and given that English cricket’s priority is next year’s World Cup, to be played at home, it seemed perfectly reasonable for one of their best limited-overs players to focus on the shorter forms – especially considering his last Test engagement was the 2016 tour of India, where he was made to look thoroughly ordinary.
That decision has been vindicated by his form in white-ball cricket and he is now ranked inside the top 10 ODIs bowlers.
From an England perspective, this decision makes zero sense. Rashid took 23 wickets in five matches in India in 2016, at an average of 37.43 and a strike rate, 60.6, that shows his shortcomings in Tests. When batsmen aren’t under pressure trying to hit him for quick runs, and captains can’t protect him with boundary-riding fielders that allow him to attack, his effectiveness drops effectively – and that was on turning wickets in India.
Against the same batsmen, on England’s less helpful pitches? There is the tiniest chance this could be an inspired selection, but all the signs point to picking Rashid being a recipe for disaster.
It almost seems as if Rashid has been picked thanks to one magical ball against Virat Kohli in the ODIs, but picking a player for the Test team on the back of limited-overs form has never been a sensible policy.
And Yorkshire are entitled to feel hard done by, given that the player who wanted to play only white-ball cricket for them will now miss the latter stages of the T20 Blast because he’s on Test duty with England.
Last week, Rashid turned down the chance for a red-ball return in Yorkshire’s most recent County Championship match, the Roses fixture against Lancashire. His county were forced to draft in a spinner on an emergency loan.
But the criticism that has been directed Rashid’s way is unwarranted.
The bowler is entitled to bristle at the fact that he’s not received a word of congratulations from anyone at Yorkshire – standard practice for Test selection. Instead, he’s had to hear Yorkshire director of cricket Martyn Moxon saying he was “disappointed” at Rashid’s selection, and chief executive Mack Arthur’s reaction that he was “very surprised”. Both are justified in feeling that way – but that emotion should be directed at the ECB and its selection panel.
Reaching out to Rashid should have been the first thing both did, and their comments should have made clear that they bore him no ill-will for the selection itself, whatever may have transpired between player and team before this (he’s had a strained relationship with Yorkshire coach Andrew Gale since the day the latter was captain of the team and Rashid was a rising star).
Meanwhile, English cricket’s latest self-styled moral compass, former captain Michael Vaughan, who has taken turns being impressive and inane as a commentator and pundit, accused Rashid of being “unprofessional” and “a bit dozy”.
He was singing a different tune when England recalled Jos Buttler, another player on a self-imposed exile from red-ball cricket, this May against Pakistan on the back of a strong IPL.
Since 2015, Jos Buttler has played 6 Championship games whilst Adil Rashid has played 24. Also, Buttler's last first-class game before his Test recall was the same day as Rashid's.— BeingOutsideCricket (@OutsideCricket) July 27, 2018
Despite this, Vaughan wholeheartedly supports Buttler being selected for some reason... pic.twitter.com/b9RUwR3Rkz
What exactly was Rashid supposed to do? Turn down an England call? Sure, he might have received praise for standing his ground regarding his preference for white-ball cricket, and asserting his commitment to his county’s T20 and List A teams, but that’s an unfair moral standard to be applying.
Playing Test cricket for your country remains the pinnacle of any cricketer’s career – or so they keep telling everyone. And pundits from all sides are always worrying over the impending death of Test cricket, and how players’ preferences for T20 and ODIs is among the chief causes. After that, expecting a player, who let’s not forget is 30, to turn down selection is unrealistic.
The real story here is the ECB yet again showing its disregard for county cricket, by depriving Yorkshire of one of their best players during pivotal stages of their domestic T20 campaign, and by valuing ODI form over County Championship performances – even if nobody was quite sticking their hand up from that competition.
England say Rashid’s selection is a one-off, and that the selection panel has been told that playing county cricket is a prerequisite for being considered for the Test team.
But they picked Buttler on the back of IPL form, and they’ve picked Rashid now. The criticism should be aimed solely at the ECB and its selection committee.
Instead, they’ve made their leading leg-spinner a convenient scapegoat.