London, Jun 24 (IANS): Legspinner Adil Rashid will miss England's white-ball series against India and the latter stages of Yorkshire's T20 Blast campaign in order to make the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.
The 34-year old Rashid, a practicing Muslim decided earlier this year that he had reached the right time in his life to make the pilgrimage, and has been granted leave by the ECB and Yorkshire. He will fly to the Middle East on Saturday and is expected to return in mid-July, ahead of England's white-ball series against South Africa.
"I've been wanting to do it for a little while but I've found it pretty difficult with the timings. This year, I felt as though it was something that I had to do, and something I wanted to do as well," Rashid told ESPNcricinfo.
"I spoke to the ECB and to Yorkshire about it and they were very understanding and encouraging, like: 'yep, you do what you've got to do and then come back when you can'. Me and the missus are going and I'll be there for a couple of weeks.
It's a massive moment: each faith has got their own different thing but for Islam and being a Muslim, this is one of the biggest ones. It's a big thing for my faith and for myself. I knew that I needed to do it while I'm young and strong and healthy. This is something that I really committed to myself that I would do," he added.
Rashid expects to miss all six limited-overs against India from July 7 to 17 but said the schedule was not a major consideration in his decision.
"It wasn't like, right, I'm playing against India - I'd better not go. That didn't really cross my mind. It was purely: right, I'm going - the decision was irrelevant to cricket, in that sense," he said.
"All I had to do was speak to Yorkshire and England and get their go-ahead. That was very easy and they were very understanding. To have that backing from your county and from your country, it feels like a big boost," he added.
In absence of Rashid, England is likely to give Matt Parkinson an opportunity to play in the limited-overs series against India, after he made his Test debut against New Zealand earlier this month as a concussion replacement for Jack Leach.