Alex Hales and Adil Rashid opting to sign white ball-only contracts with their counties has caused a stir but I say fair play to the pair of them – they certainly won’t be the last players to concentrate solely on limited-overs cricket.
I understand the fuss, which is accentuated by Hales and Rashid having played Test cricket for England, but a focus on the shorter forms of the game is inevitable.
In fact, it has been a long time coming given more and more white-ball specialists are in the system and coming through, while youngsters are being attracted to the sport in the first place by Twenty20 cricket.
Players want to play in the lucrative T20 competitions around the world – and experience the lifestyle that goes with it – and I don’t blame them. I played red-ball cricket for my county early in the domestic season, which coincides with the Indian Premier League (IPL), and it can be miserable.
Both Hales and Rashid were ignored for the winter’s Ashes series – in the latter’s case, England selected rookie leg-spinner Mason Crane ahead of him – and, as a consequence, they may feel as though their time in the Test arena is up.
You look at someone like Jason Roy, too, who has been around for a while but hasn’t played Test cricket. After a period of time, he and others in the same boat might weigh up their options and think they are better off concentrating on what they consider to be their white-ball strength.
Some people will be disappointed that Hales and Rashid are no longer putting their hat in the ring for Test cricket and it is a shame that talented players are giving up on a particular branch of the game, but cricket is moving in a different direction.
Switching constantly between the formats – first-class, one-day and T20 – makes it difficult to maintain form, and ultimately maximise potential – in a particular format.
Former skipper Alastair Cook does not get selected for England’s limited-overs squads, allowing him to focus exclusively on Test cricket, but he doesn’t get slated for that. Hales and Rashid are being overlooked for Test cricket and are now concentrating on white-ball cricket.
The more traditional cricket fans will see Hales and Rashid’s decision as deflating, while younger supporters with a more forward-thing approach will probably view it as the way to go.
Like it or not, this is the way modern-day cricket is going and it’s a personal choice for the players in question. You look at IPL contracts and that is where the money is – players are bound to follow it.