England star Rashid vows to look after 'younger brother' Ahmed
England star Adil Rashid vows to look after ‘younger brother’ Rehan Ahmed on and off the pitch… with leg-spinner pleased his teenage protege will avoid the pitfalls he faced in his early years
- Adil Rashid and Rehan Ahmed to lead England’s World Cup defence
- Leg-spinner Rashid has likened his team-mate to a ‘younger brother’
- Ahmed came back from first over that cost 19 runs to claim three wickets
The sight of Jos Buttler skirting the Kensington Oval boundary at an optional net session earlier this week, in deep conversation with his vice-captain Moeen Ali, held greater significance than previous pre-series chats between the pair.
Moeen is Buttler’s right-hand man – indeed he has taken the armband in entire series during his captaincy, including last year’s 4-3 win in Pakistan – so talking tactics is nothing new.
However, this particular conversation represented a changing of the guard as Moeen discovered his close friend Adil Rashid would have a new on-field sidekick in Twenty20 matches as England attempt to tune up for next year’s world title defence back here by defeating West Indies in a five-match series.
Things did not get off to a good start in terms of results, but there was encouragement to be found in Tuesday night’s defeat in individual performance. Specifically that of Rehan Ahmed, who came back from a first over that cost 19 runs to claim three wickets and, bowling in tandem with Rashid, provide the tourists with a glimmer of hope.
Ahmed’s unquestioned ability to dismiss international batters – he took five in the one-day series defeat here – has persuaded the England think-tank that their attack going forward should include master-and-apprentice wrist spinners.
England star Adil Rashid needs one more victim for 300 wickets in white-ball internationals
And so Rashid, who needs one more victim for 300 in white-ball internationals after returning figures of two for 25 in game one of five, will act as mentor to the Leicestershire teenager on and off the pitch.
‘I definitely look upon him as a younger brother. He’s 19. He’s got his own journey. We’re completely different bowlers. You know, he’s got the tricks. He’s got the ability as well as the confidence, so hopefully he can carry on developing and building his game,’ the 35-year-old Yorkshireman said.
’It’s always nice to get a young leggie up and coming. We’re two completely different bowlers as well – he bowls it a bit quicker, I try and get a bit more flight, a few more variations.’
Part of Ahmed’s challenge will be to adapt as opponents around the world get to grips with his style.
‘Yeah, that’s what it is. Especially if you start playing a lot more cricket, people see a lot more. Then they might get used to you a bit more,’ said Rashid.
‘But that’s a long way away for him. He’s just got to keep playing cricket, keep enjoying it and hopefully keep taking wickets and let nature take its course.’
Predominantly a bowler who favours his googly, it was heartening to see Ahmed turning his leg-spinner under the floodlights on Tuesday night, including the delivery that dismissed the dangerous Romario Shepherd first ball.
Rashid says there are other balances to his bowling role that England’s youngest player across all formats can incorporate.
‘Obviously it is to be attacking, but sometimes you can be a bit defensive to get wickets as well,’ he said.
‘You’ve got to find the right situation – when to attack, when to defend and that’s just not myself and Reh but that’s just the whole collective unit and hopefully moving forward we can find that.
Leg-spinner Rashid has likened England team-mate Rehan Ahmed to a ‘younger brother’
‘We’re always talking; just keep it simple, enjoy yourself. The more he plays and the more experience he gets, the better things will get for him.’
One advantage Rashid believes his young protege has is that English cricket now has a greater acceptance of leg-spin as an art form than it did when he began his career 17 years ago, and for that he thanks 2019 World Cup-winning captain Eoin Morgan.
’It’s definitely got a lot better since Morgs took over in 2015. He changed English cricket with his mentality and how he was with me,’ Rashid explained.
‘He really put it in my head about how to bowl and the mindset we’re looking for. As time’s gone on, it’s definitely got a lot better in that sense and people understanding more about leg-spin.’
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