Trevor Bayliss has hailed Adil Rashid’s spell in the Big Bash League as an overwhelming success as the tournament’s leading wicket-taker prepares to feature for Adelaide Strikers in tomorrow’s semi-final against Sydney Thunder.
Rashid played in all three of England’s Test matches against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates at the end of 2015, but Bayliss felt the leg-spinning all-rounder’s time would be better spent Down Under preparing for the upcoming World Twenty20 rather than touring South Africa.
Moeen Ali has played as a lone spinner in seam-friendly conditions, and with England 2-0 up against the Proteas and Rashid having snared 15 victims at 13.2, the England Head Coach feels vindicated.
Rashid linked up with his Yorkshire first-team coach Jason Gillespie at the Strikers, and helped them finish top of the group stage with seven wins from eight matches.
The 27-year-old will hope to also feature in Sunday’s final before linking up with England’s limited-overs side for five one-day internationals and two T20s against South Africa.
“It couldn’t have worked out any better could it?” said Bayliss.
“We thought coming to South Africa that the likelihood of playing two spinners was probably not great, so Rash would just be just running drinks.
“But there’s been a bit of talk about IPLs and Big Bashes, and trying to get our guys a bit more worldly, experienced.
“It was an opportunity that came up, so we took it and it’s fantastic news not just for Rash but I think the England game.
“With him and David Willey doing well in that competition, and Michael Lumb, hopefully more of those teams will look at the English game for even more players to go out there and play.”
Friday’s semi-final will see Luke Wright’s Melbourne Stars pitted against Michael Carberry and Willey’s Perth Scorchers.
Wright, in particular, has been a revelation for the Stars with the Sussex captain having amassed 250 runs, including a brilliant match-winning century against the Renegades in the Melbourne derby in front of 80,883 fans at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
The explosive opening batsman also enjoyed T20 success with his county back in 2009 and will need all of his experience against two-time defending champions Perth Scorchers, who boast the likes of Yorkshire all-rounder Willey and Hampshire batsman Carberry – both of whom have been regulars at NatWest T20 Blast Finals Day in recent years.
Although Carberry has not featured as much as his fellow English peers, his 35-ball 62 steered the Scorchers to victory against Hobart Hurricanes. He also featured in Perth’s title-winning run in the BBL last year as well as Hampshire’s Twenty20 victory in 2010.
Willey, who skipped England Lions’ tour of the UAE to play in Australia, has impressed with the ball and bat, claiming 3-22 in a nine-wicket win over the Sydney Sixers before hitting 25 not out in their thrilling one-run victory over the Hurricanes.
He first rose to stardom in 2013 with his blistering 60 off 27 balls with the bat before taking 4-9 with the ball, including a tail-ending hat-trick against Surrey to help Northants Steelbacks win their first major trophy since 1992.
Willey, who is son to ex-England cricketer Peter Willey, then went on to smash the fastest century, off 40 balls, in last year’s Blast.
In the Women’s Big Bash semi-finals, England internationals Charlotte Edwards, Katherine Brunt, Heather Knight and Laura Marsh are all set to feature.
The Scorchers’ Edwards and Brunt will face table-topping Sydney Thunder in tomorrow’s last-four clash as both played an influential role in their two victories over Melbourne Renegades in as many days to claim a top-four spot.
Brunt impressed with the ball in both matches, taking 2-12, trapping international team-mate Danielle Wyatt lbw in the first win before claiming 2-14 in the second.
England captain Edwards hit 63 off 51 balls in the second game to guide her side home.
Friday’s semi-final will see Knight and her Hobart Hurricanes side take on Marsh’s Sydney Sixers.
Knight played in three of the Hurricanes matches this week when she contributed 23 and 33 with the bat while taking four wickets, including 3-7 from three overs against Melbourne Stars.