ADIL RASHID has said that being overlooked by England is only inspiring him to work harder.
The Yorkshire leg-spinner insisted it is making him roll up his sleeves and battle to get back into the team.
Rashid took 30 wickets in the seven Tests against Bangladesh and India during the winter – more than any other England bowler.
But he was ignored for the recent games against South Africa at Lord’s and Trent Bridge, where Moeen Ali and Liam Dawson were preferred, and for the current match at The Oval, where England are playing only one front line spinner in Moeen.
“It just makes me want to work hard and hopefully put in some good performances and see what happens,” said Rashid, who goes into tonight’s NatWest T20 Blast match against Birmingham Bears at Edgbaston on the back of career-best T20 figures of 4-19 in Wednesday’s win against Durham at Headingley.
“I’ve not really been disheartened or disappointed about the situation; whoever gets selected gets selected on merit, and good on them.
I’m excited to be playing the Twenty20 stuff and, when I’m enjoying my cricket, that’s when my performances hopefully come in and I have that clear mindset to spin the ball both ways.Adil Rashid
“I’m a bit more mature now – I’m 29 now – and I’ve gone through a lot of ups and downs, and if I get picked I get picked, and if I don’t, I don’t.
“The way to get back in is to perform well for Yorkshire in red-ball cricket and, if I do that, maybe I can get back in.”
Rashid has limited chance to play red-ball cricket at present with the T20 Blast dominating the schedule.
Yorkshire’s only County Championship match between now and September 5 is the Scarborough Festival game against Essex that begins on Sunday week, and Rashid is likely to be required by England for the five-match one-day series against West Indies that starts in mid-September.
There is a feeling in certain quarters that England have come to perceive the Bradford-born player as a white-ball specialist.
However, Rashid’s first-class record is striking for someone who has played only 10 Tests – 489 wickets at 35, plus 6,565 runs at 33.
“At the moment, I’m just concentrating on the white-ball stuff,” said Rashid, who is Yorkshire’s joint leading-wicket taker in this summer’s Blast alongside fellow spinner Azeem Rafiq, with 10 victims.
“I’m excited to be playing the Twenty20 stuff and, when I’m enjoying my cricket, that’s when my performances hopefully come in and I have that clear mindset to spin the ball both ways.
“Myself and Rafa (Rafiq) work well in tandem, we know our plans and what we’re trying to achieve.
“We bowl well in partnership, and hopefully we can carry that on for the rest of the tournament.”
Rashid, who has also taken 199 career one-day wickets and 157 T20 wickets, appears to be bowling as well as ever.
His variations are a key weapon for Yorkshire in the T20 format.
“I feel good,” he added. “For me, the main thing is always the preparation in the nets and working hard in there, and then on the pitch I’m just looking to mix it up – leggies, toppies, googlies, sliders, or whatever it is.
“I’m looking to take wickets all the time, and it’s about bowling my variations regardless of conditions, pitches, the opposition, and having the confidence to do that.
“At the moment, it’s coming out okay, but sometimes it doesn’t and you bowl full tosses and long hops, so it’s all about working hard and trying to improve.”
Rashid is a more phlegmatic character now than he was in his youth. He accepts that leg-spinners, in particular, have their highs and lows.
“I think I’m also accepting that there are going to be days when I bowl well and days when I don’t bowl as well and get hit,” he reflected. “That’s part and parcel of T20 cricket especially.
“But I’m just looking to remain confident and to have that self-belief all the time, whatever the situation. I think that’s the best thing you can do as a spinner.”
With Rashid and Rafiq spinning them out, and with pace men Tim Bresnan, Steve Patterson and David Willey chipping in too, Yorkshire have a strong look about them in T20.
Willey has also smashed 322 runs at 64, with support from such as Adam Lyth and Shaun Marsh, and Yorkshire head into tonight’s match top of the North Group with four wins from seven.