It has long been the fable of English county cricket that ‘strong Yorkshire; strong England’.
The England selectors’ preference for picking white roses for their international squad makes last season’s County Championship trophy even more impressive for the county therefore, as it reveals the strength and depth of the Tykes’ team even in the absence of key players to England duty.
There must be a slight sigh of relief at Headingley however when the winter Test team is announced; knowing it can’t impact upon Yorkshire’s domestic season. The recent series in the UAE saw many Yorkshire players including Joe Root, David Wiley, Jonny Bairstow and Adil Rashid shine, so it was a strange situation to see the latter dropped ahead of the upcoming tour to South Africa. He will now join his Yorkshire coach in Australia to play in this winter’s Big Bash tournament.
Discussing this development with the media ahead of his departure to coach the Adelaide Strikers in the competition, Jason Gillespie was typically protective of his player but suggests a stint in Australia could work wonders for the all rounder.
“The announcement of the Test team brought mixed emotions,” he said. “On the one hand I was gutted for him that he’s not involved, I believe he’s in the best England squad for Test cricket.
“All of the words we’re hearing is that, on account of conditions in South Africa, it’s very unlikely that England will play two spinners.
“What would be better then, is that he plays some cricket in the Big Bash. Would he be better served learning skills to overcome challenges England have with the white ball or carrying drinks in South Africa?”
Gillespie is quick to affirm his belief that his player will be better served by committing his time to a highly competitive limited overs competition than joining the England team as a back-up player should something happen to first choice spinner Moeen Ali, saying “You’re always better off playing cricket than wearing a bib and carrying drinks around.”
The Yorkshire coach is confident Rashid has a promising Test career to look forward to and says the lessons he will take with him from a difficult tour in the UAE will only enhance his career prospects.
“I absolutely believe Rashid could be England’s frontline spinner in the future.’ ‘It was a tough tour in the UAE against Pakistan, he is and will be a better bowler from that experience.”
Gillespie goes on to give his backing to the England camp’s decision to release players not selected for the South Africa tour to play in the T20 tournament, saying it is a positive step in the right direction for the development of players.
“The selectors and management have decided that Adil is better served with a stint in the Big Bash, and the same goes for David Willey.
“These are good decisions, they’re in the best interest of the player and the England team. When he’s back from the UAE, we’ll sit down and have a good chat but this could turn out to be a blessing in disguise for him.”
It is always disappointing for a player to miss out on a Test spot but Gillespie is now urging Rashid to take up the opportunity offered by his Adelaide Strikers to improve his all round performance and send a message to the selectors.
His advice is to focus on the task at hand and realise his value for his new team mates in the Adelaide Oval dressing room.
“We have two overseas players and Rash is one of them,” Gillespie says. “He’s an important player and he will play. He’s a great addition, playing in Adelaide on that surface he’ll play well.
“We know he can spin the ball hard and he’ll play an important role. It’s exciting for him and for me, and both the Strikers and Yorkshire will surely benefit from this opportunity.”
It remains to be seen what the Yorkshire duo will do for the Strikers but it must surely be considered a positive that players are being permitted the chance to exchange drinks duty for match experience.
Gillespie highlighted the intensity of the Big Bash fixtures as a particular advantage for Rashid as the eight group games and potential quarter, semi and finals fixtures would be a perfect lead into England’s ODI fixtures against South Africa early next year.
“It would appear England see him suited more for that format right now,’ Gillespie says, ‘but Rash is only 27 so he has a lot of time left in this game. With over 400 first class wickets, for a spinner that’s already impressive and he continues to show his class.”
Whilst Rashid is unlucky to have missed out on a place this time around, Yorkshire can take heart from Gary Ballance’s call up. After a difficult time in an England shirt, Ballance was dropped after The Second Test during The Ashes this summer.
He went on to finish his summer strong for Yorkshire and appears to have done enough to restore the faith of selectors and earn his place for the South Africa tour.
Speaking about Ballance’s reselection Jason Gillespie remains typically jubilant and backs his player to succeed.
“We were all gutted for him when he was left out [this summer], and he was bitterly disappointed, but I think the way he has conducted himself, his attitude, has been first rate. If he makes a final XI during the South Africa tour I’m sure he’ll grab it with both hands because he’s an absolutely quality player.”