Cricket

Jason Gillespie backs England's handling of Adil Rashid decision

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Yorkshire first-team coach Jason Gillespie has backed the England selectors' decision to omit Adil Rashid from the Test tour of South Africa and instead allow him to develop his Twenty20 skills in the Big Bash League.

The leg-spinner broke into the England five-day side on the recent visit to United Arab Emirates, taking eight wickets in the 2-0 defeat to Pakistan, but failed to retain his place for the four Tests against the Proteas in December and January.

National selector James Whitaker revealed conditions were unlikely to allow England to field two spinners, like they did in the Middle East, meaning it would be more beneficial for Rashid to link up with a Big Bash franchise rather than carry drinks in South Africa ahead of the ICC World T20 in March.

Rashid, a Big Bash winner with South Australia Redbacks in 2010-11, wasted little time in securing a contract Down Under, signing a deal to link up with county coach Gillespie at Adelaide Strikers just a day later.

And Gillespie, speaking at a press conference at Headingley to mark the first official day of county champions Yorkshire's pre-season, made it clear that England's decision was the best for all parties.

The former Australia paceman said: "It is sort of mixed emotions really. On one hand I am gutted for him that he is not involved. I certainly believe he is in the best England squad in Test cricket.

"All the words we are hearing in the media is that, with the conditions out in South Africa, it is unlikely England will play two spinners.

"I think that they have weighed up what will be better. If he is not going to play, is he better served fulfilling this opportunity in the Big Bash and playing some cricket leading into more challenges that England have got in the shorter forms of the game in the new year, or carrying drinks around South Africa?

"England's management made that call and I think it is a good decision. You would rather a player is playing than just wearing a bib and carrying drinks.

"He just needs to play really. It is a balancing act. I think there is some thought gone into this by the selectors and the England management.

"They feel, at this point in time, that there is an opportunity for Adil to play in the Big Bash. They have done it with David Willey as well.

"You weigh up a Lions tour or an opportunity to play in one of the biggest T20 tournaments in the world. These are good decisions, in the best interests of the player and the England team.

"I am happy with it - especially with my Adelaide Strikers hat on, I am delighted."

While Gillespie was satisfied with Rashid's omission, he admitted his surprise at the decision not to include Liam Plunkett.

Plunkett, an unused tourist on England's past two tours, has been overlooked altogether for the South Africa Tests despite injuries sidelining fellow pacemen Mark Wood and Steven Finn.

"I have only exchanged a couple of messages with Liam, I know he is bitterly disappointed," Gillespie said. "I will be catching up with him soon for a chat.

"My only hope is that he has been given a specific reason by the selectors as to why. We were left scratching our heads a little bit at Yorkshire.

"He has gone from almost playing to then not in the squad, in conditions that you would think suit him. Fast, bouncy wickets, he is one of the fastest bowlers in the country, so that is an interesting one.

"I'm sure the selectors have their reasons, as long as that has been communicated with clarity to Liam - that is my hope."

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