England outcast heading for Big Bash?

England have sprung a number of surprises in naming their Test squad for the upcoming tour of South Africa, opening the door for at least one of their players to sign up for this year’s Big Bash in Australia. Adil Rashid, who recently made his Test debut against Pakistan in the UAE, has previously enjoyed two successful spells with South Australia in Australia’s T20 competition, and a return Down Under looks to be on the menu for the Yorkshire all-rounder.

Now an established member of England’s one-day teams, Rashid has enhanced his reputation in the game over the past few years and the presence of Jason Gillespie as the Adelaide Strikers’ head coach looks set to be a key factor behind the 27-year-old’s decision.

Following what was a tough start to life in Test cricket, recording the worst figures by any debutant with his 0-163 against Pakistan, Rashid was left out of England’s squad for South Africa, with the selectors making it clear they were unlikely to play two spinners, with Moeen Ali and Samit Patel ahead of him. While it will be a blow for Rashid to miss out on such an important series, getting more white ball experience against some of the world’s best players should have a big benefit for him in the long term, as well as proving to the England selectors that he isn’t just willing to sit on his backside until the start of the new season.

While the omission of Rashid has raised a few eyebrows, it has been somewhat overshadowed by a couple of other decisions, most notably recalling Gary Ballance and Nick Compton with Ian Bell missing out following his poor run of form over the past 12 months. Ballance was dropped following a poor performance against the Aussies in the last Ashes series but the Yorkshireman now has the chance to re-establish himself in this Test side. It’s a similar story for Compton, who hasn’t played international cricket since 2013, but is now expected to be competing with the uncapped Alex Hales to partner Alastair Cook at the top of the order.


Hales is one of two players now in line to make a Test debut, with left-arm fast Mark Footitt also included with Mark Wood and Steven Finn missing out with injury. Footitt earned rave reviews for his performances for Derbyshire last season before making the move to Surrey at the end of the campaign. The pace man will now have the chance to prove he deserves to be on the international stage, despite nearing his 30th birthday. Having upset the odds against Australia, those betting on the cricket will be keen to see whether that was a fluke series win or if England really are getting back to their best.

After two three-day warm-up games, England will meet South Africa in Durban on Boxing Day before the second Test in Cape Town on January 2, the third Test in Johannesburg on January 14 and the fourth and final Test at Centurion on January 22 – in a series that will be a real gauge of just where this team is.