Adil Rashid has credited Eoin Morgan’s calm captaincy for giving him the confidence to perform in any given situation, after living up to his “Hoover” nickname with four final-over wickets to settle a run-laden ODI in Grenada on Wednesday.
In a contest lit up by a world-record 46 sixes – 14 of which came from the bat of Chris Gayle – it was Morgan’s decision to turn back to his legspinner in the game’s final overs that proved decisive.
Despite being belted for 74 runs in his first seven overs, Rashid responded to his captain’s call with a diet of googlies and legbreaks that unpicked West Indies’ resistance. Their last four wickets tumbled in the space of five balls to seal a 29-run win.
Rashid’s final figures of 5 for 85 made it the most expensive five-wicket haul in ODI history. However, he accepted that such punishment was de rigueur in the modern era, and said that, after 82 ODIs in the course of a ten-year England career, he had sufficient faith in his methods to take the licks and still come back with confidence for the key moments.
“It was my day, my chance to shine,” said Rashid. “Morgs threw me the ball. I knew in the back of my mind I would have a chance to bowl in the 47th or 48th over, whatever it was, and I had to have a game-plan and that belief that, if I stuck to it, things would happen. Thankfully they did.
“There may be days when you get smashed for sixes but it’s having the confidence and belief that it only takes a miscue for you to get them out and it can start rolling from there. My mind-set is definitely that, to try to create chances and get wickets. If there is a risk of going for six, six, six and then wicket, then that’s the job I have to do.”
Rashid’s integral role in England’s one-day set-up contrasts markedly with his peripheral presence in the Test team. Though he claimed some important wickets in England’s series wins against India and Sri Lanka last year, he was a bystander for long periods of both series – not least against India at Lord’s in August when he didn’t bat, bowl or take a catch in the field. More recently, he did not play in the final two Tests against West Indies last month. Instead he returned home for the birth of his child after proving surplus to requirements in England’s heavy defeat in Barbados.
Going into the World Cup, however, Rashid will be of fundamental importance to England’s chances of claiming the title for the first time in their history. And his resilience under fire in Grenada is further proof that, at the age of 31 and with 128 ODI wickets to his name, he is in the best white-ball frame of mind in his career.
“It comes from experience, from playing under the same captain for four years. It’s him knowing your strengths, what you’re capable of doing”
“I’m always up for bowling and Morgs knows that,” he said. “Whenever he throws the ball to me I’m always up for it and keen to make an impact.
“It comes from experience, from playing under the same captain for four years. It’s him knowing your strengths, what you’re capable of doing, giving you the confidence and backing in difficult situations.
“Even in overs before, if you’ve been hit, it’s him throwing you the ball again and again. As a bowler it gives me the confidence, knowing my captain is 100% behind me. There will be days when things don’t go your way, that’s part of life and part of cricket. You have to take the good with the bad as well. Morgs in the past four years has been really good with myself and the other bowlers.
“We all have that respect for Morgs. A lot of credit goes to how he handles the situation and looks after the bowlers.”
However, events in Grenada tested even Morgan’s coolness under fire to the limit. With Gayle going ballistic in his innings of 162 from 97 balls, West Indies had been in touch with their target of 419 when Rashid made the first of his vital incisions, luring Jason Holder out of his crease to be stumped for 29, one over after Ben Stokes had finally pushed one through Gayle’s defences.
“Sometimes you feel you’re bowling good but someone at the other end is hitting you for sixes and playing exceptionally well,” said Rashid. “We all know that Chris Gayle is one of the best T20 players in the history of the game and all white-ball cricket. He hits the ball miles and he’s in great form so it’s sometimes tough to stop him.
“But as a bowling unit we have the belief that it only takes one ball for a batsman to make a mistake and that’s all it is. We’ll continue having that confidence.”
The end of the innings was a blur. Rashid had Ashley Nurse dropped at long-on from the first delivery of his tenth and final over, before inducing a top-edge to the keeper one ball later. Carlos Brathwaite then sliced a drive to cover to make it two in two, and with the game finally in the bag, Devendra Bishoo and Oshane Thomas came meekly.
Four wickets in a single over was quite a haul, even for a bowler whose nickname “Hoover” stems from his ability to suck up lower-order batsmen.
‘Maybe when I was younger [I’ve had four in an over], but never in international or professional cricket,” he said. “To get four and finish the game like that was a nice feeling for me and for Morgs as well because he was probably relieved. At some stage it was probably looking 50-50. But we knew it was only one or two wickets away and then Morgs threw me the ball and said ‘do your thing. Whatever you do, do it.’ And it went my way.
“For me as a wrist-spinner the variations come into play – of lines, lengths, wrong-uns, sliders. It’s making sure you have them up your sleeve if that’s what your strengths are.
“My strength is to bowl my variations and I stuck to that. When you get a wicket and a new batsman comes in, it can be pretty hard for him to hit a six from ball one.”
“I’ve done that in the past three or four years anyway. There have been times when I’ve come on to bowl in the 48th, over or whatever it is. I’ve got my game plans and confidence knowing that if I do bowl at the death, I look at it as a chance to get three or four wickets rather than getting hit. If I get thrown the ball now I’m definitely confident about it.”