Crashing by Design – the Adil Rashid Controversy

In the age of social media, outrage is never too far away. Sometimes it’s over a big issue, but very often it’s not, as people work themselves into a frenzy over a matter that no one had considered before to any great degree, let alone got themselves into a moral fury. In such circumstances the usual approach is to shout ever louder, and certainly never consider that someone with a different opinion might have a valid reason for feeling that way. Debate goes out of the window in a cacophony of noise and tempestuousness, and a subject that all told has limited importance suddenly becomes a cause celebre entirely out of proportion to its significance.

So it is with the curious case of Adil Rashid’s recall to the Test team for the first match against India next week. It is perhaps a slightly surprising decision, but it’s not the first slightly surprising decision, and Ed Smith has probably raised more than a few eyebrows with his inclination to think beyond the narrow parameters employed by England selectors over the last couple of years. Certainly, if some of those currently screaming are to believed, he seems to have discarded the “good bloke” (in the opinion of the ECB hierarchy) qualification in England selection that has caused no end of rancour since 2014 and seemed to defy the natural conditions of every workplace in the land. To that end, it has to be said that Smith hasn’t made a bad start. Whether individual selections are agreed with or not is entirely beside the point, his refusal to follow the path of least resistance thus far is actually rather refreshing. Given the criticism Smith has had for his past troubles with other people’s work (and rightly so – the attempted ignoring of that issue is precisely why it keeps cropping up), it isn’t always easy to give credit where it might be due and, in this case as with any selection, no one knows whether it is inspired or destined to fail. But the point is that he has shown himself prepared to take that risk. And you know what? Well done Ed Smith.

Picking a nice safe England side is easy – we can all do it, who the hell needs selectors if that’s the intention? And if the results aren’t good, well, dump a couple and bring in the latest flavour of the month on the county circuit and see if he sinks or swims. Not the selectors fault if the team isn’t good enough, they’ve all had a crack at it. See? It’s easy.

That’s why the selection of first Jos Buttler and now Adil Rashid is in itself something to be praised. Not necessarily in terms of the players themselves, for that is an arguable point, but because it implies a willingness to do more than be confined by the exceptionally messy structure of the English professional game. And herein lies the rub. For the protestations about the supposed “integrity” of the County Championship are laughable when they come from those who have agreed to, and indeed supported, every diminution in importance of what is supposed to be the proving ground for the Test team. Over the last few years red ball cricket has been pushed ever more to the margins, to the point where the bulk of it is played in April, May and September, a situation only likely to deteriorate further once the heart of the summer is given over to whatever format the Hundred ends up with, alongside the T20 Blast that also too must be given priority.

With that being the case, the role of the selectors has become either extremely easy or extremely difficult, depending on which route they go down. If they choose to only select those players who commit to the County Championship, then they lose those who disappear to the IPL (as was the case with Buttler) because that’s when most of the county matches are played until September. Complaining about players doing that is senseless. Cricketers will go where their opportunities are, and this is particularly the case for those who aren’t central to the Test team for whatever reason. If it’s a Ben Stokes, his position is sufficiently secure that it doesn’t matter – he’s in, subject to Her Majesty’s Courts And Tribunals Service – but if it’s a Jos Buttler, by no means safe in Test selection terms, it is an opportunity to maximise the income from a short career given no security in a full central contract. What on earth do people expect? A player to plod along for a relative pittance in the county game in the vague hope of a call up? Perhaps that’s exactly what they expect, yet it is always the case that the expectations of prominent sportsmen and women among the wider public jar utterly with the way they live their own lives. Offer someone a job paying twice the money, and their own loyalty vanishes in a puff of air, with few suggesting they ought to have paid more attention to the social dimension or their responsibility to a wider group.

Thus, the selectors have a dilemma. Choose who they believe to be the best players, and they are open to the accusation of ignoring the County Championship. Fail to do so, and the side they select may not be the best one available. In the case of Buttler, selecting him worked spectacularly well, his batting proving to be a highlight in both Tests against Pakistan, which certainly set him apart from anyone else. Furthermore, his selection was welcomed by the great and the good, despite barely any first class cricket over a couple of years, and with little success on the rare occasions that he did so. Indeed, since 2015, Buttler had played only six Championship matches before his Test call up, yet this was considered more than sufficient to be selected for the England team – or rather, it wasn’t, but he was called up anyway. There was plenty of scepticism about that too, but he did well, and whatever happens with him in the future, Ed Smith can feel pleased and vindicated about his decision. And rightly so too. But here’s the point: Some were uneasy with what that said about the County Championship and those players involved in it, or more pertinently not involved in it. They were subsequently drowned out by the acclaim Buttler received but they weren’t wrong to raise that question, and when they do so about Rashid they aren’t wrong now either. The debate about the merits and indeed existence of the County Championship as constituted are entirely valid matters for discussion, particularly given the concerns over the future of Test cricket, but it needs to be done from a position of consistency and not a scattergun approach based on who the latest shiny toy is.

The ones who really are wrong, the ones who invite irritation and contempt, are those who cheered to the rafters the choice of Buttler as being creative thinking, while raging about the selection of Adil Rashid now on the basis that it undermines county cricket. This is preposterous cognitive dissonance, made worse by their inability to remember what they said the previous week. In that period when Buttler has played six Championship matches, Rashid has played twenty-four, and the last time both played a Championship match was at the same juncture. It is nothing but sheer hypocrisy to approve of one and decry the other. Ah, but Rashid gave up red ball cricket they say, that’s the difference. But is it? If Buttler isn’t playing County Championship matches, then what actually is the difference? Gary Lineker has retired from international football and I haven’t, but we’ve both played the same number of games in the last few years. It isn’t a matter of what people say, but what they do.

To add to that, the structure of the County Championship itself strongly discriminates against spin bowlers anyway. The early and late season fixtures tend to help the medium-pacers who do a bit with the ball (much as Darren Stevens is a legend, it’s not perhaps his particular skills we should be seeking to emphasise) , meaning that the likes of a Rashid are of limited value, and perhaps more importantly, may not even be selected. Why have a potentially expensive leg spinner in the side in a match where the seamers are going to do the bulk of the bowling? In the Division One bowling averages this season, you have to go down to 32nd place before you find a possible England spinner (Amar Virdi) who has bowled more than 100 overs this season. Given the structure of the County Championship now, spin as a choice is thoroughly marginalised, and Rashid is far from the only one pointing this out. English cricket has not been brilliant at producing top quality spin for a very long time – Graeme Swann was a wonderful anomaly – and the endless search for one who can measure up is only made harder by playing the game in conditions alien to spinners until it comes to the main Test matches where they are called upon to perform miracles, and then criticised when they don’t.

It is here important to note what Rashid himself said when he announced his sabbatical earlier this year:

“That [lack of high summer red ball cricket] was a big part of it. Early season, I may not bowl much. A couple of overs here and there. Doing that, I wouldn’t get my rhythm — two overs before lunch, a few overs before tea. That wouldn’t help my confidence. At the stage, I’d just be going through the motions.

“It’s not a permanent thing. It’s for this season, to see how it goes, how it unfolds and what happens. See what my mind says and what my heart feels. If it changes I could be going back to red ball cricket next season.”

Very, very little of the discussion around Rashid’s selection has focused on this issue, at least until today when Jason Gillespie wrote in the Guardian about the matter, implying there was far more going on here than the narrative about a player who simply didn’t want to play red ball cricket any more. What the truth of that is, is going to be a matter of perspective, but it is at least refreshing to read an alternate take on the character of Rashid, and from someone who is in a strong position to reject the lines of those who insist they know more than anyone else, always, just because.

This doesn’t exempt Rashid from blame, for his decision to quit red ball cricket was clearly a disappointment to Yorkshire, and explains some of their misgivings over his call up, with the proviso that as Gillespie says, this is not a straightforward matter. But it does provide a degree of context, as does the at times weird treatment of him by England. He has undoubtedly shown exceptional ability at carrying the drinks, and as a result England appeared to choose him for that role on a repeated basis. When he did play a full Test series, in India, the opprobrium heaped upon him for failing to win the series bordered on the bizarre, and caused more than one or two to question why he was singled out so specifically, particularly when even some members of the media have confirmed that there was a whispering campaign against him. Attacks on his character were many, in a way few others have received recently, and that too must have contributed to his decision to stand down from red ball cricket. There will be some who consider this confirmation of the supposed character flaws but there is little quite so distasteful as the feeding frenzy among certain quarters of the press with someone either they don’t like, or they have been briefed not to like. Casting aspersions as to the motivation behind such behaviour is easy, lazy and dangerous, but it didn’t need that for many to find the persecution of Rashid far beyond what was acceptable from supposedly professional observers.

Selvey is of course one of those – never slow to remind people of his in-depth knowledge, even of golf, and back in 2016 he wrote:

“Rashid, though, is sailing close to the wind with his club and career: there are sceptics about, some with a greater depth of knowledge than most, and his card has been marked.”

This is classic Selvey, the statement that he is far brighter than everyone else, and that he has the inside track. It is highlighted not because it is wrong, but because of how the repeated nature of the attacks are principally on character, with the cricketing ability being secondary to that. Players must fit into the prescribed format defined by others, or suffer public vilification on a repeated basis, and lest anyone try to pretend it’s just about Rashid, it’s been seen far too often with far too many “difficult” players to be coincidental. Naturally, if the player answers back, this is then considered further evidence of the character flaw, as has happened with Rashid for daring to respond to Michael Vaughan’s comments. This is the justice of witch dunking.

The worst part of this is that his selection has been the excuse for this to start again. There is not the slightest thing wrong with considering Rashid of insufficient standard to play for the England Test team, but the highly personal flavour of some of the comment betrays a personal antipathy that is startling to see. Few will believe that Rashid represents the second coming of leg spin in this country, but most will accept that whether it is him or someone else, the cupboard isn’t exactly well stocked with alternatives. His tour of India has been portrayed in many quarters as an unmitigated disaster, which is a curious reading of events. Sure, he was a long way from being outstanding, but he did take more than twice as many wickets as anyone else. To put it into further context, Rashid’s 23 wickets in that series came at the cost of 37.43 per wicket. Not brilliant by any measure, yet the 17 wickets taken by every other spinner combined that England selected came at an average of 62.53. Not only is that a huge difference, but it’s also entirely symptomatic of likely England spinners’ performances in India with the exception of a single tour.

When considering the performances of England spinners in India this century it is hardly a tale of derring do. Rashid’s wicket-taking measures up perfectly well against most others, and his average is certainly not out of kilter with what should be expected. It appears – as with Moeen Ali all too often – that Rashid is berated for failing to perform above and beyond the level that should be expected of England spinners overseas not called Swann.

This still doesn’t mean that he’s the answer, and it absolutely doesn’t exempt him from debate over whether he is sufficiently good to be in the team. Nor does it mean that his selection having given up red ball cricket shouldn’t be worthy of scrutiny, but it does mean a few other things: Praising the left field selection of Buttler and screaming about the one of Rashid is nothing but rank hypocrisy. Failing to consider how we got to the point where a player who plainly wants to play Test cricket gave up the red ball version of the game is an abrogation of thinking and in a parallel universe, Adil Rashid is being praised for answering his country’s call. Lamenting the loss of integrity of the County Championship while simultaneously applauding every move the ECB makes to sideline it even further is both stupid and taking everyone else for a fool too.

Adil Rashid may be a successful pick. He may not. He may not even play, which would be an entertaining irony. Either way, Ed Smith has certainly stayed true to his expressed determination to bring a fresh approach to his role. And the ever lamentable section of the press corps have stayed equally true to their own lack of principles. Only one of those things is a pleasant surprise.


63 thoughts on “Crashing by Design – the Adil Rashid Controversy

  1. nonoxcol Jul 27, 2018 / 5:47 pm

    Bloody hell Chris, stop it with all this NUANCE. Why would I keep coming to a cricket blog for four years to read NUANCE, man?

    Get with the times. Respond to a valid statistical point with “whoop de fucking do”. Join a mob. Ignore your blatant conflict of interest. Shove obvious past bias right down the nearest memory hole.

    It’s the way of the world.

    Liked by 3 people

    • LordCanisLupus Jul 27, 2018 / 6:53 pm

      Better Chris’s scalpel than my bludgeon. I thought I’d seen the end of player witch-hunts after KP left the scene. Silly me.


    • northernlight71 Jul 27, 2018 / 7:35 pm

      The despondency inspired by the all-too-predictable social media uproar at this selection is only offset by the knowledge that it’s really, really annoying Mike Selvey (3 tests, 6 wickets, average 57.16) He really hates Rashid. He tries to couch it in general terms but he can’t keep the mask on for long enough. Almost as if…. how can this commoner who didn’t go to the right school have better Test bowling figures than me?
      Wonder how his little tete-a-tete…. sorry, “An Evening with Selvey” went?

      Liked by 2 people

        • Rohan Jul 29, 2018 / 12:19 am

          Or if he isn’t, his mate Saker is and he’ll ask him for his two penneth worth.


      • Elaine Simpson-Long Jul 29, 2018 / 7:04 am

        Yep he is in full Pringle/KP mode at the moment. He really is a jerk. I cannot comment on his twitter feed as he blocked me


  2. Benny Jul 27, 2018 / 5:54 pm

    I agree with every word


  3. metatone Jul 27, 2018 / 6:00 pm

    Excellent and even handed post.

    Some (random) thoughts:

    1) Can you imagine the headlines and backlash on Rashid if it turned out he’d turned down the offer of a place in the Test squad? Not only (given the coaching structures) the general opprobrium, but the potential backlash for his ODI career. Lot of people blaming the player out there when their real beef is with Ed Smith.

    I note as well with some displeasure that a player can get himself into trouble outside a nightclub and put his entire career at risk and miss a bunch of Tests, but largely get less stick (and less questioning of his “character” and “commitment to the game”) than Rashid is getting for accepting a call up.

    2) Along with that is that you can easily suspect that if Leach had been fit, this offer would never have come along and Rashid would be quietly going about his white-ball business. If Yorkshire are in a fix, it says more about how the England setup does not sufficiently compensate teams for call-ups. There’s an alternate universe where Rashid played red ball for Yorkshire and still gets a shock England call up and it screws up Yorkshire’s Blast campaign. The focus on him lets the structure of the game off the hook.

    3) As Dizzy says, there’s so much we don’t know and yet people are so keen to comment on and draw conclusions on. I’ll take his assessment of Rashid as a player/teammate/bloke over a lot of the other people who have decided to comment.

    I often think about how England team culture turned Monty from a fresh faced cricket enthusiast into an older block with some alcohol issues who couldn’t get it together to bowl at his old standard.

    Taking that lens on the big bust-up over Rashid telling Yorkshire for months “I’ll be skipping these matches for family time” and then not giving in over it makes me wonder. Who knows what was going on in his family life? Should a player go back on a promise to his family just because things got complicated at work? I know I wouldn’t, push come to shove.

    4) There’s an irony at work as well, in that Rashid did what we so often say England fringe players don’t do, which is take responsibility for their own game and take action to improve it. You might not agree with his actions, but (as you outline) there are serious issues with the way the structure of CC affects spinners and you have to agree that he took action to try and become a better player.

    5) The great sadness for me is that he’s not the new Warne and so he’ll be ditched for Leach at the first opportunity. And indeed, as you note, odds are he might not even get picked. So, he’s going through all this for nothing and will doubtless feel even less thrilled about the English cricket establishment.

    Liked by 5 people

    • LordCanisLupus Jul 27, 2018 / 6:50 pm

      “Lot of people blaming the player out there when their real beef is with Ed Smith.”

      The word count, and attack count, for Adil Rashid and Ed Smith would be amazing to see.

      Plenty of attacks on one’s record, past and attitude, and not many mentions of Mr Smith, rather “the selectors” despite FICJAM standing up and answering questions in a clear, coherent and logical way. You may not like him, and I don’t, but he’s an ECB employee so they ain’t going to steam in on him, when they’ve a convenient scapegoat to pop at.

      “Can you imagine the headlines and backlash on Rashid if it turned out he’d turned down the offer of a place in the Test squad?”

      With bells on. Smith asked whether Adil was interested in returning to test cricket. Adil said yes. Ed picked him. If Adil said no, I want to concentrate on white ball cricket, we all know the headlines. It makes me sick.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jennyah46 Jul 27, 2018 / 10:07 pm

        There could have been an equal kerfuffle had Rash not been selected. Not the same amount of outrage of course, but words would have been written. On social media concern for the Couny Championship was behind much of the anger, as was the red ball/white ball issue of principle. That turned out to be misguided as the current regulations for test selection stand. That is a crucial point for me, which makes all the difference.


        • thelegglance Jul 27, 2018 / 11:37 pm

          I get the concern about county cricket. It’s the selective nature of that concern that bugs me.

          Liked by 1 person

      • metatone Jul 30, 2018 / 7:58 pm

        6th August apparently (thus he’ll be missing the 2nd Test) is the last I heard?


  4. marees Jul 27, 2018 / 6:21 pm

    If Bishen Singh Bedi at his peak, was available to Yorkshire, would he have managed to play 100 overs?

    What do Yorkshire expect out of their spinners? Maybe yorkshire should hire a spin bowling coach to support their spinners?


  5. Rohan Jul 27, 2018 / 10:06 pm

    Lots coming out on this matter; Botham is on Adil’s side on this, in the article above. He even mentions that some of the stuff said about Adil is not on, first time I can recall a media type saying that about another media type! Good on you Botham.

    Enjoyable read Chris and some good points; I despise the treatment of Rashid from some in the media, purely because they don’t like his character. As you say just focus on whether he is a good enough cricketer or not. I would imagine Selvey will trot out something about Rashid’s bowling speed before long (which incidentally is no slower than Warne’s was)…..


    • oreston Jul 28, 2018 / 1:18 am

      He played in very different times, and his legend meant he was never going to be cashiered à la KP, but Botham the player himself occasionally fell foul of the English cricket establishment and newspapers. I guess something still stirs in him just occasionally…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Mark Jul 27, 2018 / 10:36 pm

    For me, it shows a lot of character to stand there and stick two fingers up at the English cricket establishment. Particularly after you have been shat on. Maybe unwise, maybe self defeating, but you have to have something about you to do it. This shows an individualism, and self belief that seems to make the cliquey England press pack very angry. What is more worrying is it causes ex players like Willis and Nasser to spit their dummies. (And Nasser did a lot of dummy spitting when he was a player. And I admired him for it.)

    We have been here far too often in the last few years. Message to Selvey, and the other pearl clutchers…..we are looking for the best players in their particular field, not auditioning a possible fiancée for your daughters.

    This has always had the stench of the KP affair written through it. Player of individualism not liked in collectivist environment. Do all players now have to be jolly good chaps who lick the captains boots? And speaking of captains…… wasn’t it Cook who was captain at the time of Selveys boast that he knew that Rashid had his “card marked?”

    Time to put up or shut up Mr Slevey. Who told you Rashid had been warned? Was it another one of those candlelit dinners with your chum from Bedford school? He was one of the worst captians of spin bowling I have ever seen. Second eleven village green standard. Not the nations captain.

    Is Rashid Shane Warne? No, but then Selvey is no Peter Allis. Then again, Selvey is no Mike Hendricks. Come to think of it, Selvey is no Simon Hughes. There is something rotten in the state of Denmark, there is something rotten in the English cricket media, and has been for far too long. Far to cliquey with the ECB, far to cliquey and fawning with the previous England captain, and coach. It all got very Smashie and Nicey , and incredibly unprofessional. No wonder so many of them have been pensioned off.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rooto Jul 28, 2018 / 6:51 am

      “Come to think of it, Selvey is no Simon Hughes.”
      Oooofff!!! 🙂


    • alecpaton Jul 28, 2018 / 7:42 am

      Whatever one says of Rashid, he’s never been afraid to state his case. I remember a few years ago, when he was on the outside looking in and he gave an interview to the Guardian that basically gave the higher ups at Yorkshire both barrels.

      Of course, for the nay-sayers things would be easier were there a few fuller cupboards marked “spin bowling” in English cricket. If Leach or Bess had been uninjured and turning it square at Ciderabad, or if Dawson actually took wickets then we could at least have a debate about whom to select in his place.


      • Mark Jul 28, 2018 / 9:00 am

        English cricket has always been run like a grown up version of a public boarding school. There is a hierarchy of a Headmaster, Then Masters, then Prefects, and right on down to the new boy. Everyone must know their place.

        Every now and again someone does not follow the school rules, because they are more an individual. Botham and KP were such people. But they were right at the top of their profession. Rashid is ok, (better than most of the others available) but not a world beater. So therefore he does not have the record behind him. There were plenty of people as we have seen who hated both KP and Botham because of their individualism.


  7. OscarDaBosca Jul 28, 2018 / 6:47 am

    There is a telling comment from Botham in that article that unless I have misunderstood the context says that Yorkshire asked Rashid to play in the Roses match but if he did he had to sign up to playing 4 day cricket for them next year.
    He has been at Yorkshire since he was 10 and has let his contract run down so he is free to sign with someone else next year. Of course he isn’t going to play one match and be bound to a contractual obligation when he already knew he was going to be in the England squad.
    A good summer for England and lots of counties will want him for next year. I hope England don’t bottle it and not pick him for Edgbaston (especially as I am going 😂).
    As for Selvey 10 pints of bitter please!


    • Mark Jul 28, 2018 / 9:05 am

      This all probably explains Roots rather strange detachment from Rashid when he became test captain. Was he acting in England’s best interest when they refused to take him to Australia or pursuing a grudge on behalf of Yorkshire?

      Who knows?

      But England got thrashed in the Ashes, and we didn’t look like bowling out Australia twice. In fact if they had been Timeless tests we would still be playing.


  8. Benny Jul 28, 2018 / 7:44 am

    From what I’ve seen so far, Rashid’s selection is supported by James Vince, Ollie Rayner, Jason Roy and Ian Botham.


    • Benny Jul 28, 2018 / 7:50 am

      As for the “sending a message to county cricketers” catchphrase, what message have they got from Kolpaks – sorry we can’t give you a game because we’ve signed Amla (not to mention Pujara) so no 4 day cricket for you and forget about 5 day


      • oreston Jul 28, 2018 / 12:47 pm

        I think players of the calibre of Amla can only enhance the county game and be great role models for young English players making their way. Surely it’s the legion of rather less stellar journeyman Kolpaks who are more of a problem?


      • d'Arthez Jul 30, 2018 / 10:14 am

        As far as I know, neither Pujara or Amla is a Kolpak (yet). They would have to give up playing international cricket.
        Mind you Marchant de Lange could not get in as a Kolpak (due to having too few international games), but then he got in on the legal status of his wife (I think she is Danish). What irks me in this case, is that they tried Kolpak, before going through the wife.


    • Mark Jul 28, 2018 / 5:38 pm

      The whole thing stinks to high heaven. Vaughan said his selection sent out a message that “our county game, the finishing school for our cricketers, does not matter any more and that it is irrelevant”.

      What did Vaughn say about Butlers recall on purely IPL form?

      He added: “I’ve nothing against Adil. He is a good kid. He is a bit dozy but he is low maintenance and does not cause trouble.
      “As a bowler he has done well in white-ball cricket but he has not been successful in Test cricket because he bowls too many bad balls.”

      How does he know he is dozy? Rashid has an economy rate of 3.83 in test matches . Under four for a leg spinner in today’s game is not terrible. I would have thought 38 wickets in ten test matches is not that bad.

      The more worrying aspect of this is the cold shoulder from Yorkshire. Why are they so angry? Why does Yorkshire care if he plays for England? Something is rotten about all this. And then there is this……

      If Rashid plays it probably means Bess does not. This is what was written about the Bess selection in May for Pakistan.

      “Bess has only taken one Championship wicket this season, but his
      record of 63 from just 16 first-class games is impressive, and he re
      ceived a glowing Lions report from
      Andy Flower.

      Ah, Andy Flower. Is this why Selvey is so angry? Oh what a tangled web we all weave.


      • d'Arthez Jul 30, 2018 / 10:15 am

        Was that the same Vaughan who was waxing lyrical about another non-county player (Mason Crane)?
        Or does playing 3 games already make you an established county pro these days?


    • metatone Jul 30, 2018 / 8:05 pm

      Very interesting read. I’d add that I think people are inclined to forget Adil played many many years of County Cricket. This is no promotion for a player who has not put in years of work in CC.

      Liked by 1 person

      • psoans Jul 30, 2018 / 8:27 pm

        I completely agree with what you say. This is one reason I have not pushed the name of Virdi even though he looks good. Not everyone can be a Wasim Akram who gets picked and drafted in almost immediately. You have to be willing to put in the hard work and training. My response would be completely different if he had absolutely no experience of red ball cricket. A cricketer knows their own body and mind. I would like to believe that Rashid agreed to the offer because he felt prepared both physically and mentally to play test cricket.


  9. Mark Jul 28, 2018 / 10:42 pm

    Priceless reading all these England journos telling us how sacred county cricket is regards Rashids selection.

    Yet, most of them have stood idly by while the same county championship has been marginalised to the spring and autumn. Make your minds up lads. Is it sacred? Or an irritant to the most important part of the summer……namely making money?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rohan Jul 29, 2018 / 12:27 am

      Agnew’s latest thoughts on the BBC are a perfect example. He quite happily says you can’t pick Leach as he’s rusty and hasn’t been playing much county cricket as there is not much on, but on the other hand says Rashid needs to play county cricket to be picked!? How can he do that if there’s no county cricket to be played. As above, he does not say that county cricket has been marginalised and pushed to the edges/fringe, no complaints at all about where it sits in the calendar, just that you need to play it.

      I think it’s all a red herring, completely irrelevant, it’s just because his face doesn’t fit. Any fool can see Rashid is bowling well at the moment (see the T20s/ODIs) so give him a go and see if it works, it’s that simple.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Elaine Simpson-Long Jul 29, 2018 / 7:02 am

    As always, a voice of sanity. Thank,p you. Shame Rashid was goaded into his response to MV and Yorkshire. It was an interview given without being cleared I gather. He needs to step back now and let the arguments rage over his head and concentrate on what he has ro do which is to take wickets. That is the only answer


  11. BoredInAustria Jul 29, 2018 / 8:31 am

    I had a look what Vaughan said about Buttler’s inclusion against Pakistan – found this:

    Michael Vaughan: As much as I was surprised with @josbuttler inclusion I am also delighted … Test Cricket needs players who can light up an arena and with his talent,Flair & innovation he will certainly try and do that … #TestCricket #England

    Now it is “ridiculous” and “Being called stupid for wanting a player to be professional and play a red-ball game to prepare for the number one Test team in the world is an official career highlight.”

    So he is also accusing Rashid of not being professional over and above being a kid, a bit dozy and bowls too many bad balls.

    This is outrageous!


    • Mark Jul 29, 2018 / 11:39 am

      Vaughn is a prat. This shows he has no integrity or consitensy of opinion. He just has favourites who he will argue for, and then make the opposite argument when it involves someone he does not support.

      Zero credibility. Probably why he is offered so many platforms on the MSM. They love giving oxygen to hypocritical nonsense.


    • Zephirine Jul 29, 2018 / 12:15 pm

      Isn’t Buttler with Vaughan’s management company?

      This has been going on for years, pundits with business interests praising certain players to the skies and none of their radio colleagues or interviewers ever asking ‘Isn’t he one of yours?’ It’s as if they think it’s bad manners to highlight a conflict of interest.

      Does this happen in other sports? Or is it only cricket where ex-players invest in agencies and have commentary jobs as well?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Nicholas Jul 29, 2018 / 12:32 pm

        I do think that, apart from Vaughan’s conflicts of interest, he is somebody who isn’t terribly bright and does say (and tweet) with utter conviction what he happens to think at any given moment. Unfortunately for him, he doesn’t seem to have any consistent views or any morals to stand on. I’ve said it before on here, but it’s sad when he seemed to be a captain with a natural nous for the game (not to mention stellar man-management skills), but he’s now the number one rent-a-gob in the game. And whilst his shady business interests and the like are not a good feather in his cap, I think that in most cases he just says what he thinks whether or not that tallies with what he thought yesterday.

        And to think, I had high hopes back when he started in the media that he could be Channel 5 and TMS’ Atherton-type figure – somebody who thinks about the game and takes a more unpassionate stance. How could I have been so wrong?!


        • Zephirine Jul 29, 2018 / 1:40 pm

          Ironically, this was part of what made him a good captain – I can’t remember which player it was, possibly Flintoff, who said Vaughan’s great advantage was that he was a superb liar.
          The team valued his ability to tell the management anything that would keep them quiet, and were also happy to believe him when he said they were vital to the side, he had complete confidence, they should play their natural game, etc etc.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Nicholas Jul 29, 2018 / 9:02 pm

            I remember Flintoff saying something similar in the past. Difference is, I don’t think that Vaughan lies now – I think he says with complete conviction what he firmly believes. Problem is that what he genuinely believes changes by the hour.


  12. Mark Jul 29, 2018 / 6:50 pm

    I see Ollie Holt has blundered into this issue with his usual idiocy. The wannabe Keith Richards of the Hold the back page generation has become an establishment toady in middle age.


  13. Rohan Jul 29, 2018 / 11:53 pm

    Just a thought. Rashid hasn’t played any red ball cricket this year. In the England squad, however, who else has, since the Pakistan tests or before that? Broad and Anderson haven’t, yes they’ve been injured, but it’s fine to rush them back…….even though they might be ‘rusty’ which was Agnew’s view of Leach.

    Actually a genuine thought. India will have played more red ball cricket more recently than most of the England squad. Will they be better prepared for the tests than the home team?

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Rohan Jul 29, 2018 / 11:55 pm

    From the guardian “but Broad, who underwent an injection in his left ankle before turning out for Nottinghamshire recently” I see this practice is still going on, it can’t be good for the long term!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. thebogfather Jul 30, 2018 / 4:07 pm

    Ok… who wants to kick off the debate…
    According to ECB poll, Chef is the GOAT England opener, picked alongside Hutton… (no Boycs, no Hobbs, no Gooch…)
    Mind you, I bet they were aghast at KP being picked at 4…and at least they didn’t do a ‘Muppet’ and fill 1 to 4 with openers (still no Boycs)…
    Oh, and Jimmy and Swanny are in too…your thoughts?


    • LordCanisLupus Jul 30, 2018 / 4:42 pm

      Have they nothing better to do than “greatest ever” clickbait? This then becomes a fan’s poll, not a decision made after eons of statistical and anecdotal research.

      And Boycott would probably not make my team if Hutton and Hobbs had to be displaced for him.


    • Mark Jul 30, 2018 / 5:22 pm

      Did you ever hear Flintoffs greatest England team? I don’t think anyone before the millennium got in. Perhaps the odd one. Ashley Giles ahead of Swann was my favourite . Doubt he ever heard of Underwood, let alone Hutton.

      They only do it to give the illusion they are interacting with the fans. While all the important issues are being decided by people who hate the fans. That is why they so desperately want new fans.


  16. Mark Jul 30, 2018 / 6:25 pm

    Is there anything more jaded than Premiership transfer deadline day, and it’s drawn out count down to its end? Transfer deadline day is like a fading vaudeville act with the presenters trying to hype up a an awful old doddering magician who pulls a white rabbit out of a hat.

    Sky have their own show….. “Transfer centre.” Sounds like a new station on the underground. It’s become as pointless as the Eurovision Song Contest.


    • LordCanisLupus Jul 30, 2018 / 7:00 pm

      A bitter ex-journo and cricket radio pundit?


      • Mark Jul 30, 2018 / 7:23 pm

        Ha ha ha

        More to it hey? What? , like a need to be trained on how to have clandestine dinners with the England captain. And then regurgitate a lot of propaganda dressed up as special knowledge that only some people know about.

        Perhaps he could train them up. He could do seminars on “How to freeload in sports writing for 30 years without getting found out.”


      • Rohan Jul 30, 2018 / 10:26 pm

        It’s always thing like “there’s more to it”, “his cards marked”, “it’s not that simple” with Selvey. Pick any non-descript throw away comment, designed to belittle and you’ve got his style nailed. Just once, just once, I’d love him to explain, what more to it is? Or what he means by his cards marked, actually exemplify your points and be a real journalist…..explain to us mere plebs 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  17. Mark Jul 30, 2018 / 7:34 pm

    Agnew and Vaughn about to discuss Rashid on 5 live now. If you have the stomach for it?


    • Mark Jul 30, 2018 / 7:55 pm

      Highlights so far…..

      Vaughan …” look what happened the last time he played India in test cricket, alright he was the leading wicket taker….. but he went for loads of runs.”

      “ Its a stab in the chest to those players who play county cricket… can his body be right?”

      What, like Josh Butler?

      So apparently even if he takes wickets it is still the wrong selection according to Vaughn.

      Agnew being quite reasonable so far.


      • Mark Jul 30, 2018 / 10:41 pm

        Vaughan has become the new Selvey. Only he didn’t have to wait until he was an old man to become so bitter. Boy is he bitter about Rashid.

        It is going to be surreal on Wednesday if Rashid plays because most of the English press pack will be willing him to fail. Still, they have been soaking the pitch at Trent Bridge for days so it will probably be a green seamer even in the hot weather we have had. Doubt he will play, which will cause even more heads to explode.

        Also, England have become experts at discarding players, and then flinging their shit when said players give up county cricket as they see no future in red ball play.


  18. oreston Jul 31, 2018 / 1:14 am

    Even Boycott’s sticking his oar in now – apparently not too ill to spit some bile and call Rashid a “spoilt brat.” (As usual the irony is that he exhibits no insight into the fact that many people perceived him as a rather self-centred cricketer, but never mind.)
    I really don’t get the hullabaloo. Has Rashid been caught eating babies, or drowning puppies? A useful leggie who can also hold a bat. It’s a pity Benaud isn’t around anymore, but I bet he’d have observed drily that English Test cricket must currently be in fantastically good health if it can afford to waste a player like that.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Mark Jul 31, 2018 / 10:41 am

    Some rambling thoughts. Sorry if it’s too long…..

    We always said on here that the KP issue was far bigger than just one star player that had fallen out with the management. No, this was about an entire rotten system that wanted to purge anyone who did not conform to a top down group think. Individualism of thought had no place in the new Stalin like regime.

    What soon became obvious and shocking was that this new zero tolerance would be enforced by a reactionary, and deeply corrupt cricket media. Mostly oddballs, and fruit and nuts , who either had pretty mediocre careers as county trundlers, or strange journos who had never played the game at any sort of level, other than village green standard. (Usually about fifty years ago when old maids cycled to church) For these people cricket at the top level was a set of social niceties, and hierarchies of status, that needed to be vigorously policed. What’s more, they relished the idea that the officious policing of this system should be done by them. The first warnings of problems to come was when the 20/20 game began to give enormous financial rewards, and a new freedom to a few elite players. Seeing as most of these journos recognised that they would not be the players getting theses new fortunes if they were still sulking in dressing rooms they sided with the old grizzlies moaning about their luck.

    Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. These Stasi types soon found that the right sort of copy granted them special favours and access to the right sort of leaking from the top. Wobetide any player who got on the wrong side of these high priests of the new doctrine. Their character, their technique or even their private lives would be fair game if you you didn’t submit to the new overlords.

    Unfortunately, many people let their loathing of KP blind them to this new zero tolerance era. It wasn’t just players who could fall foul of these new thought police, but also fans. If your views don’t fit the doctrine you too are not welcome. In fact the governing body, backed by these same loons openly calls for the replacement of the cricket lover with a new type of fan who doesn’t even like the sport.

    But I digress. The treatment of Rashid in the last few days has been extraordinary. The zealots, and hypocrites have returned with a vengeance. How dare Smith select a player who does not conform to the required total abedience of their Holly order. Pundits who only a few months ago cheered on the return to test cricket of Josh Butler, who had played hardly any red ball cricket now spin 180 degrees to lecture on the sanctity of the County championship. (Have these fruit and nuts been paying attention to what the ECB has been doing to their beloved championship?)

    A former player, renound for being single minded, and doing whatever he wanted. (Like retiring from test cricket right in the middle of an era of very fast bowlers or splitting the very same county with a virtual civil war with endless extraordinary general meetings) suddenly wants to lecture us about selfishness. This is absurd.

    I doubt Rashid will play. The High priests of the media have taken over the lunatic asylum. If he does play their desire for him to fail will be overwealming. Remember these are the same people who demanded absolute loyalty of a former captain no matter how bad he performed. English cricket media is rotten to the core, drenched with freeloaders, time servers, and special interests. Time to tell them all to go to hell.


  20. KidVicious Jul 31, 2018 / 11:38 am

    I don’t really have much more to add to the article and comments, which do a great job of discussing this issue.

    I will say that my rather cynical side (which is far to say unlimited re the ECB) can’t help but think that the ECB are loving this discussion on Rashid because it

    a) – stops people talking about the joke Hundred, in which even many trusted media are airing criticisms
    b) – stops people talking about the fact that one of the best summer’s in recent history went by without a single ball of Test match cricket and very few CC games.

    This is what I want for the next series –
    1) Great test match cricket with a close games and even contests between both sides and bat and ball (pretty much can be said for every series)
    2) – Rashid to take a bagful of wickets, even if he is expensive, by getting set batsman and blowing through the tail
    3) – A 2-2 result with the decider being a rain affected draw – just to show up the ridiculous nature of the schedule and 4-day tests.


  21. Zephirine Jul 31, 2018 / 12:16 pm

    The ECB may be relieved that controversy over Rashid is taking attention away from the disastrous Hundred.

    However, what they should be bloody worrying about is that there a still thousands of tickets unsold for the first Test. Which is also England’s 1000th and therefore historic. Which is against India who are good and have a major diaspora population in the country.

    Sayings about inability to run a whelk stall spring to mind.


    • d'Arthez Jul 31, 2018 / 1:55 pm

      Who is taking the hit if tickets are unsold? Undoubtedly it will not be the ECB.
      Do they care? They don’t. All the money is in the TV deals. Only when the TV deal value is dependent on attendance at the games, will they bother to improve spectator experience / make it so you don’t have to sell a kidney to attend a full Test.
      Let’s just hope the series will not be reduced to a best of five tossing competition, with all games basically decided at the end of Day 1.However, I won’t be surprised if it will be just like that. And that is hardly a recipe to get the fans in either.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mark Jul 31, 2018 / 2:20 pm

        The TV deal is linked to the football Premiership. Essentially football fans are paying for cricket subscriptions. It’s why in my view The ECB like Sky so much. If they were forced to go elsewhere they may not be able to get such a good deal.

        I suspect the empty seats reflect the fact that cricket has just disappeared from English summers. It’s invisible. This is one of the best summers we have had and cricket has been irrelevant. The people running this show should be fired for gross incompetence.

        Liked by 1 person

      • thebogfather Jul 31, 2018 / 3:23 pm

        A cumulative of tossed off result irrelevance
        Short term schism, candy-flossed cough-cult ignorance
        Swayed numb ECB have crossed thus be cult innumerate
        In all forms of their reportage inept fed to all
        Thus they should now headline adorn and be MSM pressed to fall

        But it won’t happen in this comfort zone of those we have for years known
        Oh MSM so compliant…. the tit fuck that ECB desires cos they own
        Every Selfey each prumpthat is Derek, all DailyHeil hirsute ECB tingles
        The only Essex remains in succumb self stained worn Pringles

        Sorry all, just a red wine whine to those exposed…


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