England's national selector, Ed Smith, has suggested Adil Rashid could still be in contention for a place in the Test team despite no longer having a red-ball county contract.
Rashid, 32, is England's first-choice legspinner in the white-ball formats but has not featured in a first-class game since he played in the first Test of the series in the Caribbean in January 2019. He last played for his county, Yorkshire, in September 2017.
But despite Smith having previously said Rashid "must have a contract to play red-ball cricket" in order to be eligible for selection, he has now made it clear that he is open-minded about a Test recall.
Rashid's situation is complicated by the shoulder injury he sustained during the 2019 summer. He required two cortisone injections to help him get through the World Cup and admitted the injury inhibited his ability to deliver his variations. He told the BBC that, at one stage, he "couldn't life my arm [while holding] the ball".
He has subsequently undergone a long rehabilitation period and, as a result, decided to concentrate on white-ball cricket until September and then reassess his options.
His form in the ODI series against Ireland earlier this summer suggested he had made a full recovery. Not only did he generate sharp turn - his main variation, his googly, was particularly potent - but he bowled with decent pace and had no problem delivering his full allocation of overs in all three matches.
And with England hoping to tour Sri Lanka, for two Tests postponed from earlier this year, and India over the coming winter, Rashid's skill could prove hard to overlook.
"The main thing with Adil is that he's made really good strides with his shoulder injury and he's developed really well in recovery from that injury," Smith said as he announced England's T20 squad for the series against Pakistan. "His form is really good in white-ball cricket. We've all seen the skill and the mastery that he's displaying.
"But he's coming back from a reasonably serious injury and there's a difference between bowling 10 overs and bowling 100 overs. He's still working on that physical side, but I think in the long-term Adil still has aspirations to play for England in all forms.
"We'll work with Adil and Yorkshire, see how his shoulder is and see if he is ready to play four- or five-day cricket."
While Smith has shown previously - not least with the selections of Jos Buttler and Rashid in 2018 - that he is prepared to look beyond the county game or specific formats when making selections, his recall of Rashid proved somewhat controversial. Mark Arthur, the Yorkshire chief executive, said at the time: "We're very surprised. I hope England know what they're doing to Adil and the county game."
For that reason, if Rashid is to make a Test return this winter, he would probably have to appear in a Bob Willis Trophy match - not necessarily for Yorkshire - before the end of the season. With only a couple of rounds of games remaining, however, and Rashid involved in England's white-ball squads, such opportunities look thin on the ground. A more realistic target, therefore, may prove the winter of 2021-22 and England's Ashes tour.
Rashid has previously suggested that tour is in the back of his mind. "If I stick to white-ball cricket then there's no Ashes for me [in 2021-22]," he said. "But if I play red-ball and my shoulder allows it then that's something that I could look towards. But it's something I've got to earn."
Smith also explained the selection of Dawid Malan ahead of James Vince for the Pakistan T20Is by pointing out the former had been in the squad in South Africa - he actually came into the team for the final match when Joe Denly was taken ill - and was therefore the man in possession. He also suggested Vince, who has now played more than 40 international games for England and averages in the 20s in all three formats, had not taken his chances.
"I think James is a very talented player," Smith said. "At his best James has the skill to look absolutely at home in international cricket. I'm not saying anything different to you here that I said to James on the phone, which is it's just a question of him grabbing his opportunities. That's one thing he'd be the first to say, and I think he has said it publicly, that for someone of his talent and his class he probably hasn't grabbed his opportunities in the way he would have liked to have done."
Denly, meanwhile, owes his inclusion to his all-round skills. "People who can do more than one thing gain an advantage as they can fill different roles," Smith said. "Moving forward, Joe has a chance of breaking into that T20 set-up."
Smith also confirmed England would not be moving players from the current Test squad into this T20 squad. While one or two involved in that Test squad - the likes of Mark Wood, for example - have played very little cricket this summer, they will not be transferred even if they miss out on selection for the final Test of the summer starting on Friday.
"That won't happen," Smith said. "Not everyone has played a huge amount of cricket in the Test bubble; some of the reserves haven't played at all. But the situation for this particular T20 series against Pakistan won't change. We won't be considering guys who have been in the T20 bubble to face Pakistan."