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‘The best England group that’s ever been,’ says Adil Rashid.

Adil Rashid feels England’s double-World Cup-winning white-ball side already deserves to be recognized as “the best England squad that has ever been,” but that they are not done making history as attention shifts to the 50-over title defense in India this winter.

Rashid, 35, is a key member of a squad assembled in the aftermath of England’s humiliation at the 2015 World Cup in Australia, where they were ousted in the group stage. Since then, England has reached three finals and two semi-finals in five successive ICC global championships, including historic victories in the 2019 50-over World Cup and, most recently, the 2022 T20 World Cup.

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 at a Tottenham event ahead of this year’s Hundred competition that he was approaching full fitness and was ready to return to action with his eyes firmly fixed 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 Broadwater Farm unveiling of the KP Snacks community cricket fields initiative.

“It’s not just me.” “I’m confident that everyone going there, the entire squad, will be ready and raring to go,” he continued. “We’ll definitely go there with that mindset as the defending champions.” It would be exciting times, but it would not be an easy challenge, especially in India, where they are quite strong.

“We’ll definitely have to give it our all as a unit, as a squad, but it’s something we know we can do if we put our minds to it, and it’s something we’re looking forward to.”

The revival of England’s white-ball fortunes took a major step forward during their last World Cup campaign in India, in 2016, when the team reached the World T20 final against West Indies in Kolkata, only to be defeated by Carlos Brathwaite’s volley of four sixes in Ben Stokes’ final over, led by Eoin Morgan.

Last winter, however, Stokes and England made apologies by defeating Pakistan in the T20 World Cup final in Melbourne. Rashid again shone at the tournament’s pinnacle, collecting the best figures in the final of 2 for 22 in four overs, to go with similarly frugal performances in a must-win group game against Sri Lanka and a ten-wicket thrashing of India in the semi-final.

“As a youngster, you dream of playing in World Cups for your country and winning,” Rashid added. “That’s become a reality for a lot of us as well, so that’s something you cherish with your team-mates, with your squad, with your family members, your wife, your kids, your mum and dad… so that’s something I’m sure we’ll all keep very close to us.”

“And we also know that there will be more to come,” he concluded. “We also believe this is not the end of the story.” We’re thinking, yes, let’s go beyond. Yes, we’ve made some history, but we absolutely want to go further. That’s the mentality: defend it and win it again.”

Rashid, on the other hand, believed that this England team’s greatness would not be judged by their success or failure in India this winter, because their legacy had already been established.

“I believe it already has, don’t you?” He stated. “I mean, two World Cup victories in a row, holding both. In terms of World Cup squads, I don’t think any England team has ever been better in terms of winning series, of rising 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 skills gained by the white-ball side since 2015 have now permeated England’s Test squad, with the so-called “Bazball” period marked by an aggressive approach with bat and ball, as well as a concentration on fun. Such were the motivations that drew Moeen Ali, Rashid’s long-term England teammate and close personal friend, out of retirement to answer the call for this summer’s Ashes, despite having played his last Test in September 2021.

Though Moeen’s decision surprised many, Rashid claimed he was not surprised, especially after the two had discussed the benefits and cons of a recall. “Me and him, we talked over the phone, just chit-chatting, just that thing of ‘what do you reckon?'” Rashid explained.

“You can imagine it, because Mo is a world-class cricketer, not just in that format, but in all formats.” He’s done it before, and when Leachy [Jack Leach] got hurt, they wanted someone with experience, who’s been there before, and who’s done it. It didn’t come as a huge surprise to me when they called Mo.

“Obviously, the way they’ve been playing for the past year, with that positive new brand of cricket, with people going out there and playing freely, it’s very similar to the white-ball set-up.” Over the last year, the talents have become extremely comparable, and the opposition has had to find a different means of combating that, which has been a very positive and a real nice thing.”

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