ENGLAND legend Sir Ian Botham is ready to ride to Adil Rashid’s rescue — and stick two fingers up at rivals Yorkshire.
Rashid looks to be on his way out of Headingley after the storm surrounding his recall to the Test team for next week’s series opener against India in Birmingham. And Beefy would happily welcome him to Durham.
Leg-spinner Rashid, 30, gave up county championship cricket in February, signing a white-ball-only deal with Yorkshire.
The White Rose county expected him to be available for domestic T20 games over the next few weeks.
But national selector Ed Smith put a spanner in the works by picking Rashid for Edgbaston sparking a furious backlash from the Tykes’ chief exec Mark Arthur and cricket boss Martyn Moxon.
Smith then laid down the law to Rashid, ordering him to get a red-ball contract with a county next season or forget about playing Tests.
Durham chairman Botham has witnessed an exodus of top stars from his county — such as Mark Stoneman, Keaton Jennings and Scott Borthwick — in the past few seasons to more fashionable clubs.
But now he is ready to offer Rashid a lifeline.
Botham, 62, said: “We’ll see what he does but we will definitely talk to him. Of course we will.
“It is very hard to have much sympathy for Yorkshire.
“I have lost players — we’ve lost five key ones at Durham — that have been poached. I say poached and I stick by it.
“It is very competitive out there and everyone wants to get out of the County Championship Division Two.
“We won’t do it this year but we’ll do it next year with the way we are going and the way we are restructuring.
“We need to make it a side that people like Adil Rashid will look at and say ‘It is only up the road and I can see where they are going and I would happily go there’.
“We have got to make ourselves attractive to guys like Adil Rashid.
“I have very little sympathy for anyone who is having players poached because we have just lost five. I really couldn’t care and if I can get in on the act I will.”
Rashid has been involved in a war of words with former England skipper Michael Vaughan who labelled his Test recall “ridiculous”.
But Rashid hit back saying Vaughan’s opinions were irrelevant — and Botham is firmly in the spinner’s camp.
Beefy added: “I have seen some pretty ridiculous stuff over the last couple of days and I am very much on his side.
“I hope he does really well — I like the kid.
“He is very intense, always wanting to get better. His bowling has come on leaps and bounds, so I wish him all the very, very best.
“He is now on top of his game, he has come to terms with his game and how he should perform and I am really happy he is back in there.
“England should be playing their best players, regardless of white-ball/red-ball contracts.
“If he is an English-qualified player and he can play — play. Cut out all the bull.”
Rashid struck a psychological blow for England in the last one-dayer at Leeds by bowling India’s star batsman Virat Kohli with a beauty that left the touring captain hitting thin air.
And Yorkshire and England team-mate Jonny Bairstow reckons he can dish up more of the same when the First Test starts on Wednesday.
Bairstow said: “He hasn’t played red ball cricket but it is not too big a thing.
“If he is landing his leg-spinner or his googly, he just has to do it a few more times other than the ten overs he has been bowling.”
Sir Ian Botham was speaking at the launch of his new wine range, Botham Wines. To pre-order from the range, visit bothamwines.com.