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Adil Rashid: Double World Cup winners are 'the best England squad that's ever been'

Spinner ready for return in Hundred, with focus on creating more history in India this winter

Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller
Adil Rashid believes that England's double-World-Cup-winning white-ball team already deserves to be remembered as "the best England squad that's ever been", but says they are not done with creating history as attention begins to turn to the defence of their 50-over title in India this winter.
Rashid, 35, is one of the core members of a squad that came together in the wake of England's humiliation at the 2015 World Cup in Australia, in which they were eliminated at the group stage of the competition. Since then, England have gone on to reach three finals and two semi-finals in five subsequent ICC global events, including memorable victories in the 2019 50-over World Cup, and most recently, the T20 version in 2022.
Speaking at an event in Tottenham ahead of this year's Hundred competition, Rashid - who has been struggling with a back injury and has not played since a two-match IPL stint for Sunrisers Hyderabad in April - insisted he was approaching full fitness once again, and was ready to get back to action with his eyes firmly locked on the prize.
"I came back from the IPL with a bit of an injury, so I took that month off during the T20 Blast to get fully fit, and hopefully now I'm good to go," Rashid said at the launch of the KP Snacks community cricket pitches initiative in Broadwater Farm.
"It's not just myself. I'm sure everybody going there, the whole squad will be ready and raring to go," he added. "As defending champions, we'll definitely go there with that mindset. It'd be very exciting times, but it will not be an easy challenge, especially in India in their backyard, where they are very strong.
"We'll definitely have to be our best as a unit, as a squad, but it's something that we know we can achieve if we put our mind to it, and it's something we'll definitely be looking forward to."
The revival of England's white-ball fortunes took a major step during their last World Cup campaign in India, in 2016, when - under the leadership of Eoin Morgan - the team reached the World T20 final against West Indies in Kolkata, only to come unstuck against Carlos Brathwaite's volley of four sixes in Ben Stokes' final over.
Last winter, however, Stokes and England made amends for that heartache with victory over Pakistan in the T20 World Cup final in Melbourne. Rashid also excelled at the sharp end of that tournament, claiming the best figures in the final of 2 for 22 in his four overs, to go alongside similarly frugal displays in a must-win group game against Sri Lanka, and a ten-wicket rout of India in the semi-final.
"It's something that, as a youngster, you dream of playing World Cups for your country, and winning," Rashid said. "For a lot of us, that's become reality as well, so that's a moment you cherish with your team-mates, with your squad, your family members, your wife, your kids, your mum and dad … so that's something that I'm sure we'll all keep very close to us.
"And we also know that there's more to come as well," he added. "We also believe that this is not the end of it. We have that mindset of, yes, let's go beyond. Yes, we've created some kind of history, but we definitely want to push further on. Defending it and winning it again, that's the mentality."
However, Rashid insisted that the greatness of this England team would not be determined by their success or failure in India this winter, because their legacy has already been cemented.
"It already has, I reckon, has it not?" he said. "I mean, two World Cup wins, back to back, holding both. In terms of World Cup squads, from 2015 to this day, I don't know if any England team has ever been any better in terms of winning series, in terms of going from No. 7 or 8 in the world, to No. 1.
"So as a squad, from 2015 until now, that era, I think we've definitely got the best England squad that's ever been."
Many of the lessons that the white-ball team learned from 2015 onwards have now bled into England's Test squad, with the so-called "Bazball" era being defined by an aggressive mindset with bat and ball, and a focus on enjoyment. Such were the reasons why Moeen Ali - Rashid's long-term England team-mate and close personal friend - was tempted out of red-ball retirement to answer the call for this summer's Ashes, despite having played his last Test in September 2021.
Though Moeen's decision came as a surprise to many, Rashid said he had not been taken aback by the news, especially after the pair had discussed the pros and cons of a recall. "Me and him, we talked over the phone, just having a chitchat, just that thing of 'what do you reckon?'," Rashid said.
"You can imagine it, because Mo is a world-class cricketer, in that format and in all formats as well. He's done it in the past, and when Leachy [Jack Leach] got injured, they wanted to have somebody who's experienced, who's been there before, who's done it. For them to ring Mo, it wasn't much of a massive surprise from my side.
"Obviously the way they've been playing for the past year now, with that positive new brand of cricket with people going out there play with freedom, it's very similar to the white-ball set-up. The skills are now very similar, that's been shown over the past year, and the opposition has had to find a different way of countering that, which has been a real positive and a real good thing."
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Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket