Adil Rashid likened England team-mate Rehan Ahmed to a “younger brother” and is relieved the teenager would probably not have to endure the pitfalls he did in his early years.
England selected both frontline leg-spinners in their T20 series opener against the West Indies in Barbados and were vindicated as the pair shared five of the home side’s six wickets to fall.
Rashid, who made his 100th T20 international appearance in England’s four-wicket defeat at the Kensington Oval, thinks he relies more on flight and variations, while reckoning Ahmed bowls quicker.
But Rashid, 35, does view Ahmed as his protege and the duo might end up dovetailing in England’s T20 World Cup defence next year in the Caribbean and United States if they continue to impress in tandem.
“That’s way down the line,” Rashid said. “There’s a lot of cricket yet to be played. Myself and Rehan are going to keep coming out, try to do the best we can and leave the rest to the selectors.
“But I definitely look at him as a younger brother. He’s 19. He’s got his own journey. We’re completely different bowlers. He’s got the tricks. He’s got the ability and he’s got the confidence.
“We’re always talking; just keeping it simple, enjoying it and let nature take its course. The more he plays and the more experience he gets, things will get better for him.”
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) December 13, 2023
Rashid marked his landmark appearance on Tuesday by becoming the first England male bowler to take 100 wickets in the format although it was not always such smooth sailing in his career.
He first earned England recognition in 2009 but leg-spin was still a distrusted art at the time and after a couple of innocuous displays, he was thrown on the scrapheap for half-a-dozen years.
It was only through careful nurturing during Eoin Morgan’s transformative captaincy of England’s white-ball sides from 2015 onwards that Rashid got back in – and he has hardly looked back.
Rashid is pleased that Ahmed, who bounced back from conceding 19 in his first over to record figures of three for 39 against the Windies, should not have to suffer a similar fate.
“As time’s gone on, it’s definitely got a lot better in that sense and people understanding more about leg-spin which is a great thing,” the double World Cup winner said.
“It’s completely different from 2009, times have moved on. You always learn as time goes on, you always develop and with Rehan now, with what he’s doing, hopefully he can develop as he is.”
England falling behind in the five-match series continues a disappointing sequence of white-ball results after their shock group-stage exit at the World Cup and an ODI series loss to the Windies.
They have precious little time to digest their latest setback as the series resumes on Thursday in Grenada, where Reece Topley could play his first match since a broken finger ended his World Cup early.
England’s bowlers leaked 14 sixes to the Windies’ battery of big-hitters, but Rashid insisted conviction remained high within the group despite limited success of late.
“You can’t always win World Cups. You can’t win series every time,” Rashid said. “Obviously we’d love to do that but it’s part and parcel of sport.
Action begins in Barbados!
England bat first in the opening #WIvENG T20I as Adil Rashid plays his 100th T20I.
— ICC (@ICC) December 12, 2023
“It’s not just in cricket, in football you see the best in the world – one minute they win a World Cup, the next minute, they lose. That’s just natural and part of life.
“We’re still confident and have got belief in ourselves, we’ve still got a really aggressive team. All we’ve got to do is go out there and just really have that self-belief in ourselves.”
As for whether he took any satisfaction from his achievements, Rashid added: “It’s always nice to get a milestone like that for myself but it would have been better if I’d got the milestone and we’d won.”