England dramatically recalled Adil Rashid to their 13-man squad announced Thursday for next week’s first Test against India even though the Yorkshire leg-spinner has opted out of playing first-class County Championship cricket this season.
Rashid is now in line to play his first home Test, after all 10 of his previous appearances were made overseas.
His inclusion alongside off-spinner Moeen Ali in a squad for what will be England’s 1,000th Test when they face India in the first of a five-match series at Edgbaston, comes despite Rashid deciding to opt out of all first-class cricket this year ahead of a home World Cup campaign in 2019.
It was a bold move by a panel headed up by new national selector Ed Smith, who earlier this season recalled Jos Buttler to the Test squad for a drawn series against Pakistan.
Rashid won the last of his 10 Test caps away to India in Chennai more than 18 months ago.
He starred recently in England’s one-day series win over India, producing a clssic leg-break to bowl India captain and star batsman Virat Kohli as the hosts clinched a 2-1 success at Rashid’s Headingley home ground.
England Test captain Joe Root can bowl off-spin, while left-armer Jack Leach, who like Rashid naturally turns the ball away from right-handed batsmen, suffered concussion on his return to county cricket with Somerset.
An England statement stressed Rashid, 30, was committed to Test cricket.
“Before the selection meeting, Adil had confirmed his availability to play Test cricket for England for whole of this summer and the upcoming winter tours to Sri Lanka and West Indies.”
Meanwhile former England batsman Smith added Rashid would have to commit to playing red-ball cricket if he wanted a long-term Test future.
“Following his earlier decision in February 2018, Adil has a white-ball only contract to play for Yorkshire this summer,” he insisted.
“That arrangement is unchanged by his selection for England.
“However, Adil fully understands that if he wishes to be eligible for Test cricket in the 2019 season, he must have a county contract to play four-day cricket.
“Moving forward, England Test players must be committed to the county championship.
“Clearly, the one-off circumstances around Adil’s return to the Test squad are unusual.
“However, the selection panel was unanimous in believing that Adil should be selected in England’s squad.”
England also called uncapped Essex seamer Jamie Porter into their squad, with pace-bowling all-rounder Chris Woakes missing out following a return from injury.