Shane Warne has declared Adil Rashid to be a “wonderful” bowler with a leg-break to rival the best he has ever seen in the game, after imparting his wisdom to the young legspinner in an hour-and-a-half nets session in Sharjah.
Warne, who had already worked alongside Pakistan’s own legspinner, Yasir Shah, on Thursday, said that he had witnessed glimpses of “magic” from Rashid, most notably during his second-innings haul of 5 for 64 at Abu Dhabi, when he bounced back from delivering the worst figures by a Test debutant in history to give England a genuine shot at an improbable victory.
However, Warne has also warned the England management to be patient with Rashid as he gets to grips with the requirements of Test-class legspin, following an eventful introduction in the first two Tests against Pakistan in the UAE.
“The over-riding thing is he’s a wonderful bowler,” said Warne. “When anyone starts their Test career, it takes time to see the best of them. What we’ve seen already is some glimpses of magic. We’ve already seen he can do it at this level.
“It’s about being consistent, so that’s going to take time. All of us need to be a bit patient with him. And he needs to be patient too. But there’s not too many people going round with a better leg-break than Rashid’s. He’s as good as anyone I’ve seen, ever.
“It was a pleasure to work with him. I think he has all the toys and tools, I think he’s a wonderful bowler, a good kid and he thinks about the game. A lot of spinners don’t really think like he does. We have to make sure he doesn’t over-think. He needs to keep a clear mind, keep his plans and just go out and deliver.”
Warne also said there was no need to always compare the two legspinner in this series. Yasir has a smoother action and bowls significantly quicker than Rashid, whose slower style often allows batsmen to play him off the pitch, but Warne said it was not a one-size-fits-all style.
“They are completely different bowlers. Rashid can be just as successful. It’s a different style. It doesn’t mean it is not as effective. They can have the best tools in the trade but you have to think right, how big is his heart? Is he up for the fight? Is he patient? Does he want the ball in his hand when it is tough? All those things you don’t know about a spin bowler no matter how good you think they are. Yasir looks like he’s got it. Rashid, we’ve seen him bowl some magic in the first Test. So he’s got it.”
Warne’s offer to assist Rashid was a radical departure from his former life as one of English cricket’s most notorious adversaries. However, the gesture was accepted by the head coach, Trevor Bayliss, who has made a habit of utilising specialist overseas coaches in his short time in charge of England’s fortunes.
Mahela Jayawardene, the former Sri Lanka batsman, was recruited ahead of the first Test to help England develop their techniques for Asian conditions, while Daniel Vettori, the former New Zealand spinner, will be helping out at the England Performance Programme in the UAE next month.
Warne spent 15 minutes talking to Rashid at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium before a half-hour one-on-one session, with England’s bowling coach, Ottis Gibson also in attendance.
The trio was then joined by Alastair Cook, England’s captain, a man whose leadership has previously attracted Warne’s criticism in print and in his TV commentary, but whose more innovative approach to tactics and field placings in recent months has been widely acknowledged.
Warne has regularly stated in the past that legspinners need careful management by their captains, both in terms of tactics and the timings of their spells, and after greeting Cook with a warm handshake, the four men all gathered together to talk through the challenges of the art.
“No one is the best captain when they first start,” said Warne. “About 18 months ago Cooky and I chatted on phone and had it out. It’s not a personal vendetta or going to affect my friendship. But I need to have an opinion. You can’t sit on the fence.”
He also gave Cook a positive endorsement over his tactics with Rashid. “Cooky had it exactly right. give him protection at the start, attack as you get into it. And then work together as you go along. But really it’s up to Rashid to come up with those plans and for Cooky to back them.”
On the perception that Cook is a better captain now than at the height of Warne’s criticism in 2014, Warne replied: “One hundred percent. We saw that during the Ashes. He captained very well.”
At the conclusion of the session, during which Warne sent down about 30 deliveries himself with Jonny Bairstow acting as keeper and said it “fizzed a bit”, he tweeted: “Thanks again to both Pakistan & England for allowing me to have a bowling session with 2 wonderful young leg spinners. Give it a rip boys !!”
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.