England v India First Test Betting: Why Rashid fails the L'Oreal test - he's just not worth it
Ralph Ellis looks at the controversy around the recall of spinner Adil Rashid and fears it will harm England's prospects...
"We’ve seen before with Pietersen the effect when you set up a sideshow around a major sporting occasion. You divide opinion not just outside the dressing room but in it too, and that’s never a healthy sign."
Has there ever been an England Test cricketer approaching the first game of a series under more pressure than Adil Rashid ahead of Edgbaston tomorrow?
There have been a good few selections down the years that has caused controversy, of course. Sir Ian Botham after various bans comes to mind, while Kevin Pietersen's inclusion was always the subject of debate.
Rashid, though, is a different matter altogether. A player who turned his back on red ball cricket, who wouldn't sign up to play four-day games for his county, is suddenly in the Test squad on the back of a brilliant spell for the England One Day team.
His "ball of the century" that bamboozled Virat Kohli in the final ODI pretty much sealed the deal for new national selector Ed Smith in his efforts to stamp his own mark on the side.
But from the moment his return was announced there has been furious argument about the precedent set in picking a player for the long form of the game when he isn't willing to do those same hard yards in the County Championship.
Boycott calls him a spoilt brat
It's a daring move by Smith, not least because we've seen before with Pietersen the effect when you set up a sideshow around a major sporting occasion. You divide opinion not just outside the dressing room but in it too, and that's never a healthy sign.
England are [2.04] to win the first of a five match series and despite India's dismal record over here - they haven't won a series since 2007 - I'm not sure I'd want to back that.
Even if Rashid doesn't play - which as Ed Hawkins points out in his thorough preview is highly likely - the furore won't go away (update: Rashid has been picked).
It has been an angry debate. Geoff Boycott calls Rashid "a spoilt brat" for his refusal to turn out for the legendary's batsman's beloved Yorkshire in all forms of the game.
Meanwhile Botham, perhaps with the ulterior motive of luring Rashid to Durham, is backing a man he calls "the best one day bowler in the world".
His Test record is average
The best rule around these situations when you have players whose selection will start a row is to apply the 'L'Oreal question': Is he worth it? I'm not sure the figures exist to suggest that Rashid passes that particular test.
The last time he played Test cricket was against India in Chennai back in December 2016 when he got carted for 153 runs off 29 overs and took just one wicket. His Test record as a whole has just 38 wickets in 10 Tests at an average of 42.78.
They are hardly the figures of a man worth going to war about, and for all his recent stunning One Day form don't justify his return to the fold.
If he does play, Rashid is going to be under massive pressure to justify his selection and his Yorkshire captain Joe Root will be under equal pressure to give him enough overs to do that.
If he doesn't, and England rely more heavily on their seamers with Moeen Ali and Root himself as their spin options, you're entitled to ask what all the fuss was about. Neither option will help this erratic England side to make big steps forward.