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England add to pressure on spinner Rashid after Boycott blast

BIRMINGHAM, (AFP): Adil Rashid faced further pressure ahead of his controversial recall to the England Test side for their series opener against India at Edgbaston when it was announced Tuesday he would be the lone specialist spinner in the hosts’ XI.

The England and Wales Cricket Board confirmed that off-spinner Moeen Ali had been left out from a 13-man squad.

That leaves Yorkshire leg-spinner Rashid as England’s sole designated slow bowler, although his county colleague Joe Root, the England captain, can supplement his top-order batting with occasional off-spin.

England have also omitted uncapped Essex seamer Jamie Porter.

Top-order batsman Dawid Malan remains in the XI, with all-rounder Ben Stokes and Surrey left-arm quick Sam Curran providing seam bowling support to the veteran new-ball pairing of James Anderson and Stuart Broad in the first of a five-Test series starting Wednesday.

– ‘Attacking option’ –

“Looking at the surface, we’ve decided we only want to go with one spinner, and that’s going to be Adil,” Root told reporters at Edgbaston on Tuesday.

“With the amount of right-handers in what we think is going to be India’s team, he gives us a very attacking option.”

Rashid’s previous 10 Tests, the first of which was in December 2016, have yielded 38 wickets at an expensive average of 42.78.

But the 30-year-old has been brought back after impressing in recent home limited-overs series against Australia and India.

“I think he’s obviously bowling with a huge amount of confidence,” added Root.

Rashid’s recall for his 11th Test but first in England provoked a furious response given he signed a limited-overs only contract with Yorkshire for this season.

Yorkshire and England greats Geoffrey Boycott and Michael Vaughan are among those who’ve slammed the decision to call-up Rashid without him having first played any red-ball County Championship cricket this term.

Former opening batsman Boycott, in a scathing column for Britain’s Daily Telegraph published Tuesday, accused Rashid of behaving like a “spoilt brat”.

“He should never have been handed a Test recall,” insisted Boycott.

“In two years England have gone around in a circle. By picking Rashid, they are selecting the unselectable: a player who will not play four-day Championship cricket for Yorkshire because his heart is not in it, but he will play for England in Test matches. Absurd? Yes.”

Vaughan had previously labelled Rashid’s selection “ridiculous”, with Rashid responding angrily by saying his former team-mate’s remarks were “stupid”.

– ‘Won’t remember Adil’s Tests’ –

But an unimpressed Boycott, who went into self-imposed exile from England duty for three years in the mid-1970s, said: “Let me tell Adil that Vaughan will be remembered as one of the greatest England captains and an elegant, superb batsman.

“In 10 years nobody will remember Adil’s Test match performances.”

Meanwhile England confirmed Jos Buttler as Root’s vice-captain for the Test series.

Buttler, who like Rashid forced his way back in on the strength of his white-ball performances, was only recalled to the Test set-up by new national selector Ed Smith for the Pakistan series earlier this season.

But having deputised for England white-ball captain Eoin Morgan, he has now been given a formal leadership position in the Test set-up too.

“He’s obviously vice-captain of the white-ball side; he thinks extremely well about the game, and has a huge amount of respect within the dressing-room,” said Root of Buttler.

“Looking at very long term, five to 10 years, I see him as someone who can really drive this team forward,” he added.

Anderson, England’s all-time leading Test wicket-taker, had been assisting Root since the start of the last Ashes after Stokes was stood down from the vice-captaincy position following an alleged late-night incident outside a Bristol nightclub in September.

Stokes’s trial on a charge of affray, which he denies, is due to commence on Monday.

As a result, the Durham star will miss the second Test at Lord’s starting on August 9.

Published Date: Tuesday, July 31st, 2018 | 10:34 PM

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