Alastair Cook backs Adil Rashid after ‘unusual’ recall to England Test squad


Alastair Cook says 'exceptional circumstances' have led to Adil Rashid's surprise selection for the England Test squad

Alastair Cook says Adil Rashid’s recall to the England Test squad is “unusual” and has come about due to “exceptional circumstances”.

Leg-spinner Rashid signed a white-ball only contract with Yorkshire earlier this year and his inclusion in the squad for the first Test against India on Wednesday has been criticised by a number of former players.

However, Cook has sympathy for Rashid and believes his recent form in one-day cricket shows the improvements he has made since his last Test appearance in December 2016.

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“It is interesting because it is so unusual, because of Dil saying he wasn’t going to play red-ball cricket,” Cook said.

“But over the last couple of months there have been some exceptional circumstances with the guys who have been next in line.

“I think over the last 18 months, I haven’t played with him but watching how he has gone about his business in the one-dayers and even yesterday facing him in the nets and talking to him about his bowling, he has matured as a cricketer and improved since we last saw him in an England shirt.

“In one sense, I feel a little bit sorry for Adil – all the political side of the selection, rather than looking at him.”

Cook also backed Joe Root to be able to get the best out of Rashid due to the pair’s time playing together, both in England’s white-ball sides and for Yorkshire.

“Joe, I think, is in a great position in one sense because he knows him probably better than anyone else, certainly better than I did when I captained Adil,” he added.

“They’ve got a good relationship I think, they seem to get on really well and they’ve played a lot of cricket together as well, certainly growing up. Joe will have seen him operate over the last two or three years in the one-day stuff as well and seen him get better and better and I think that is helpful.”

The former England captain also backed opening bowlers James Anderson and Stuart Broad to play in every Test of the series against India, despite the five matches being played in the space of just six weeks.

“Even four or five years ago the same question was being asked about those two guys: can they play these five games, four games or back-to-back Ashes series as it was in 2013?” Cook said.

“There was always that question and it always amazes me how many times they get through it. I think it’s a testament to their fitness and ability to soak up the demands of international cricket as a bowler.

“You never know, I just hope they can [do it again], it’s obviously a big test for them, Jimmy’s 36 today – he won’t thank me for mentioning that! I still find it amazing that they can do what they do after bowling so many times. Hopefully they can, if they don’t then it’s an opportunity for somebody else to step up.”

Watch the first Test between England and India from 10am, Wednesday from Sky Sports Cricket and Main Event.