Rashid will be England’s sole spinner for the series opener at Edgbaston after Root confirmed his XI for the match, with Moeen Ali and Essex seamer Jamie Porter missing out from the 13-man squad named last week.
However, the build-up to this Test has been overshadowed by reaction to Rashid’s return in a summer where he has opted out of playing red-ball cricket for Yorkshire.
Former Yorkshire and England greats in Michael Vaughan and Geoffrey Boycott have intensified the criticism of Rashid in the past 24 hours, with Boycott labelling the spinner a “spoilt brat” and Vaughan saying his return was a “stab in the front” for county cricket.
Root had been reluctant to call on Rashid during his first year as Test captain, with the 30-year-old overlooked for last winter’s tours of Australia and New Zealand. Rashid, whose last Test came against India at Chennai in 2016, even missed out to Somerset’s young off-spinner Dom Bess when Jack Leach was injured for the first series of the summer against Pakistan.
But Root has now staked his reputation on his county team-mate thriving against the world’s No 1-ranked Test team in India.
“Obviously I was in favour of the selection and I think it gives us a really great attacking spinning option,” said Root. “In terms of the criticism, people are entitled to their opinions and can voice what they want. I probably think it’s slightly unfair but that’s my opinion.
“I think over the last couple of years with experience he has grown as a player massively. He’s developed his game in a way that he has a better understanding of what he’s trying to do and how he’s trying to work batters out. He’s got high skill levels which I think are very transferable into Test cricket.
“I’ve got a great idea of how to captain him. I have known Adil for a long time, seen his success over the last year in white-ball cricket and feel I have an opportunity to get the best out of him in this format now.”
The furore over Rashid has seen another significant development in Jos Buttler replacing James Anderson as Root’s vice-captain fly under the radar.
Buttler was only recalled to the Test team at the start of this summer but his promotion – ahead of his country’s all-time leading wicket-taker in Anderson – is a sign Root is eager to transfer some of England’s white-ball success into the Test format.
“For this series Jos is vice-captain,” said Root. “He is vice-captain of the white ball sides. He thinks extremely well about the game and has a lot of respect in the dressing room, and looking at very long term – I’m thinking five to 10 years – I see him as someone who can really drive this team forward.
“It might be he has only been back a couple of games but I think he can offer a huge amount with the way he conducts himself and leads as well as what he does with the bat.”
Anderson took over the vice-captaincy in the winter after Ben Stokes was stripped of the honour following the altercation last September that will see him answer a charge of affray at Bristol Crown Court next week.
“It’s not a reflection on anything Jimmy has done,” said Root. “We’re looking way down the line. One thing for sure is it’s not a way of pushing Jimmy out of this team. He’s still going to be a massive part of driving it forward for the next few years in particular. He’s determined to play as much cricket as he can for as long as he can. It’s a chance for us as a group to grab a core group of players who are playing across all formats to really drive this team in a strong direction and in a better direction than we have been going.
“It might be a slightly bold statement but I see it as a great opportunity and it gives us a different way of looking at things. Maybe grabbing a few things from the one-day side. Not trying to replicate it but obviously they’ve had huge amounts of success and it would be wrong not to tap into that.”
Asked whether Buttler was appointed for this series only because Stokes could return as his deputy following the resolution of his legal issues, Root said: “That’s a decision for after this series and a decision that’s made over my head. There’s other factors involving Ben at the moment. So until that’s resolved we’ll have to make a decision.”
On the challenge of beating India, Root, whose team have failed to win their past three Test series, added: “That is where we are at – five games against the world No 1-ranked side where we can make a statement if we play well and win. You can see that hunger in the dressing room. It feels like we’re in a good place. Now it’s just about delivering.”
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