MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM: Adil Rashid believes England would be on the brink of whitewashing Australia 5-0 even if the world champions had been able to select their strongest one-day international side.
England head into Sunday’s series finale at Old Trafford just one win away from completing their first 5-0 clean sweep in any format against Australia in more than 140 years of matches between the arch-rivals.
The tourists, however, are without six first-choice ODI players.
Former captain Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner, two of the world’s leading batsmen, were both given year-long bans for their roles in the Cape Town ball-tampering scandal in March that saw Test opener Cameron Bancroft receive a nine-month suspension for applying sandpaper to the ball.
Meanwhile, Ashes-winning fast bowlers Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood were not selected for this current tour because of injury, with all-rounder Mitchell Marsh ruled out as well.
But most of those absentees were involved when England, following their Ashes hammering, won 4-1 in an ODI series in January.
Eoin Morgan’s men have since gone on to cement their place at number one in the ODI world rankings and leg-spinner Rashid, asked if the current series would have turned out differently against a full-strength Australia side told reporters at Old Trafford on Saturday: “No, I don´t think so.
“Those players were still playing in Australia — Steve Smith, Warner, Cummins, Hazlewood. They were still playing.
“We won 4-1 there, and here it´s 4-0, so I think it’s very similar.”
But England leg-spinner Rashid stressed the side were keen to avoid getting ahead of themselves, saying of a possible clean sweep: “We’re not talking about that at the moment.
“Once the game’s done, if you’ve got the whitewash, then you’ve got things to talk about.”
Spin has proved Australia’s undoing this series, with Rashid the leading England wicket-taker with 11 dismissals and 19 together with off-spinner Moeen Ali.
Old Trafford has a reputation for aiding spinners but Rashid emphasised the importance of not taking conditions at the Manchester ground for granted.
“We can’t take it lightly but once know you have one over (a team), you’ve got (a few) wickets, you know they’ll always have that in the back of their minds.
Thursday’s six-wicket win at Chester-le-Street, a result that put the hosts 4-0 up in the series, also saw Rashid become England’s most successful spinner in ODI cricket, with his tally of 106 wickets taking him above retired off-spinner Graeme Swann.
“I’m proud of that,” said Rashid.
“Swanny was a great bowler for England across all formats, so going past him means a lot.”
Rashid, however, will not be adding to his tally of 38 wickets in 10 Tests anytime soon, having taken the controversial decision to abandon all red-ball cricket this season ahead of next year’s World Cup on home soil.
“I’ve got no regrets,” insisted the 30-year-old Yorkshireman.
“Whether things had been going well or badly for me, I wouldn´t have any regrets.
“It’s the decision I made, and I´m happy with it,” he added.