The spinner is all set to return to the hundred with his sights set on creating more history in India this winter
Adil Rashid believes England’s double-World Cup-winning white-ball side already deserve to be remembered as “the greatest England squad ever”, but says they are not done making history as they turn their attention to the defense of their 50-over title in India this winter.
Rashid, 35, was one of the key members of the team that came together in the wake of England’s embarrassment at the 2015 World Cup in Australia, when they were eliminated in the group stage of the competition. Since then, England have reached three finals and two semi-finals in five subsequent ICC global events, including memorable victories in the 2019 50-over World Cup.
Speaking at an event in Tottenham ahead of this year’s 100, Rashid – who has been plagued by a back injury and has not played since a two-match IPL campaign for Sunrisers Hyderabad in April – insisted he is nearing full fitness once again and is ready to play again with his eyes firmly on the prize.
“I came back from the IPL with a bit of an injury, so I took that month off to get fully fit during the T20 blast and now I’m ready to go,” Rashid said at the launch of the KP Snacks Community Cricket Pitches at Broadwater Farm.
“It’s not just me. I’m sure everyone will be there, the whole squad will be ready to go,” he added. “As the reigning champions, we will definitely go there with that mentality. It will be a very exciting time but it will not be an easy challenge, especially in their backyard, India where they are very strong.
“We definitely have to be better as a unit and as a squad, but it’s something we know we can achieve if we put our minds to it and it’s something we’re definitely looking forward to.”
England’s revival of white-ball fortunes took a major step during their last World Cup campaign in India in 2016, when Eoin Morgan led them to the World T20 final against the West Indies in Kolkata, unstoppable against Carlos Brathwaite’s volley of four sixes in the final over from Ben Stokes.
However, Stokes and England atone for that heartache last winter with a win over Pakistan in the T20 World Cup final in Melbourne. Rashid also performed well in the sharp end of that tournament, taking 2 for 22 in his four overs to win the group game against Sri Lanka and beat India by ten wickets in the semi-finals.
“As a youngster, it’s something you dream of playing and winning the World Cup for your country,” Rashid said. “For a lot of us, it’s become real, so it’s a moment that you cherish with your teammates, your squad, your family, your wife, your kids, your mom and dad … so I’m sure we’ll all hold it very close to us.
“And we know there’s more to come,” he added. “We also believe it’s not over, and we have the mindset that yes, we can move on. Yes, we made some history, but of course we want to move forward. Defend against it and win again, that’s the mentality.”
However, Rashid insisted that this England team’s greatness this winter will not be determined by their success or failure as their legacy is already cemented.
“It already is, I reckon, isn’t it?” He said. “I mean, two World Cup wins, two World Cup wins, holding both, and in terms of World Cup squads, from 2015 to now, I don’t know if any England team has gone from No. 7 or No. 8 in the world to No. 1 in series wins.
“So as a squad, from 2015 to now, I think we’ve definitely had the best England squad ever in that period.”
Many of the lessons learned by the white-ball team from 2015 have now trickled down to England’s Test squad, an era of so-called “baseball” with an aggressive attitude with bat and ball and a focus on enjoyment. Such were the reasons Rashid’s long-time England teammate and close personal friend Moeen Ali was tempted out of red ball retirement to answer the call for this summer’s Ashes, despite playing his last Test in September 2021.
While Moiteen’s decision surprised many, Rashid said he was not shocked by the news, especially after the pair discussed the pros and cons of a recall. “Me and him, we talked on the phone, just a chit chat, ‘What do you reckon?'” Rashid said.
“You can imagine that because Mo is a world-class cricketer in that format and all formats. He’s done it in the past and when Leachy (Jack Leach) was injured, they wanted someone with experience, who had been there before, who had done it.
“Certainly the way they’re playing now, with that positive new brand of cricket, is very similar to a white-ball set-up where people play with freedom. The skills are very similar now and it showed last year, the opposition have to find a different way to deal with it, which is a real positive and a good thing.”
KP Snacks is funding 100 new community cricket pitches over the next three years. To find out more and search for a pitch visit: www.everyonein.co.uk/pitchfinder
Andrew Miller is the UK editor for ESPNcriinfo. @miller_cricket