Jason Gillespie insists that Adil Rashid must he handed time to prove himself after a nightmare start to his Test career – just as world great Shane Warne was following his forgettable debut.
The Yorkshire leg spinner has made the headlines for all the wrong reasons on his long-awaited bow with England after recording the world’s all-time worst Test debut figures of 0-163 after Pakistan reached a huge 523-8 declared in the first innings of the series opener in the UAE.
Bradford-born Rashid’s horror statistics surpassed fellow leg-spinner Bryce McGain’s 0-149 for Australia against South Africa six years ago.
But Gillespie says England must persist with Rashid, just as Australia did with Warne after he recorded match figures of 1-150 on his Test debut for Australia against India in 1992 – his only wicket in three innings of a series which saw him go for 228 runs.
Gilliespie’s comments have been supported by Tykes great Geoff Boycott, who said that Rashid shouldn’t be criticised despite his record-breaking figures.
Gillespie told The Yorkshire Post: “It’s a tough task against Pakistan in the UAE and they are very good players of spin when surfaces are slow.
“With Rash’s style of bowling, he looks to toss the ball up and give it a rip. It’s a big challenge for him.
“But you look at the greatest leg spinner of all time in Shane Warne who went the journey and got 1-150 in his first Test match against India.
“But he went back and was supported and given time. The reality is that the only way England are going to know whether any player can cope at the highest level is by giving them opportunities and support and a good run.
“Hopefully, we will see that with Adil in this series, for sure.
“Everyone needs time and that confidence to know they are backed by the captain, coach and selectors.
“Then, they can just go out and do what comes natural and perform like they have been doing to get them selected in the first place.”
Earlier this month, Warne offered to work with England to help Rashid build a Test career, having first spoken to the player, at the behest of Michael Vaughan, when he first broke into the Yorkshire side.
England are currently employing Mahela Jayawardene as an ad hoc specialist batting coach during the three-Test series with Pakistan and Gillespie feels that getting Warne on board to work with Rashid is also a no-brainer.
On the notion of Rashid benefitting from input from Warne, Gillespie added: “Without a doubt. When the world’s best-ever leg-spin bowler offers his services to a player, club and a coach, you would be mad not to take that opportunity.
“If Shane is keen, then we will try and find a way to make that happen.”
England were 56-0 at stumps on day three after Pakistan’s huge first-innings score at the Zayed Cricket Stadium.
But despite Rashid’s wicketless return, Gillespie is adamant that his confidence will not be knocked, despite a sobering first two days of his Test career – seven years on from his maiden call-up.
Gillespie said: “Rash is not an outlandish type of character and certainly not like a Graeme Swann type character. But do not let that mask his fierce determination to succeed.
“He’s a fantastic guy and team man. He is his own person and gives himself a great chance by working incredibly hard at his game.
“He is learning all the time and is only going to get better. I just look forward to continuing to see what he can do and him being supported in that.
“There’s always been a lot of speculation from the media about Adil playing. He’s the best wrist-spinner here and he needs to be given a go, that’s important.”
While Rashid’s sojourns in the Abu Dhabi heat did not yield a wicket, the first innings also saw fellow spinner Moeen Ali toil on the most docile of pitches.
It was a day when both Rashid and Ali ended wicketless, recording combined figures of 0-297 on a risible surface which has drawn widespread rebuke.
Gillespie believes the fact that the super-slow pitch was so against Rashid and not conducive to his bowling was another key factor in mitigation when scrutinising his figures.
Gillespie added: “Any professional sportsman has good and bad days. Being a leg spinner in that environment against fantastic players of spin on a slow surface not offering a lot is tough.
“We have seen not just spinners battle on that surface; the seamers are not getting much of it either. It’s a tough, hard old grind out there.
“There’s going to be ups and downs for spinners, no doubt about that; we’ve seen that.
“But Rash has worked incredibly hard and England have given him time in the one-day and Twenty20 set-up to find his feet and he repaid their faith there.
“I hope that the same thing can happen in the Test arena.”
Test report: Page 21.