Of all the players who have seen their star raise as England found a way to make ODI cricket work for them, none has been as important or risen so high as Adil Rashid. He was not selected for the 2015 World Cup and had not played for England since 2009 when he had been given five ODIs and five T20is before being discarded.
He was recalled immediately after that World Cup and has played 81 ODIs since. His return has been remarkable, and his efforts have been truly world class. Since he first got a bowl for England in June 2015, he has taken 126 wickets in ODIs, the most by any bowler over that period. Rashid, an English leg-spinner who was not considered for selection for six years, being the leading ODI wicket-taker in the world is perhaps one of the more remarkable stories in recent years.
What Rashid has done so well, something that has allowed England to reach the top of the ODI rankings, is take wickets in the middle overs. In modern one-day cricket, teams can score at five runs an over knowing that with wickets in hand they can double that rate in the last 10 overs. But to do that you need set batsmen and wickets in hand. If Rashid has worked his magic to stop either of those things happening, it makes it so much easier at the death for both himself and his bowling colleagues.
This England batting line up is capable of pyrotechnics, but it is also capable of implosion. Rashid and his wickets are an insurance policy against this. If he can help England defend sub-par totals when the batsmen don’t fire he will go even further towards cementing his place as the best spinners to ever play for England in limited-overs cricket. He is already the leading wicket taker of any spin bowler for England and he has the power to add to that total.