Adil Rashid is confident England would still be on the verge of whitewashing Australia 5-0 even if the tourists had been able to pick their full-strength team.
England need only one more victory at Old Trafford today to complete a one-day international clean sweep against their Ashes opponents, who are without at least five key players. Three of Australia’s first-choice seamers are injured, while former captain Steve Smith and David Warner are serving year-long suspensions for their part in last winter’s ball-tampering controversy in South Africa.
England are on the verge of what would be their first 5-0 victory over Australia in any format, since the age-old rivalry began almost 140 years ago.
The record-breaking form of Eoin Morgan’s world No.1s undoubtedly comes with a caveat for some, because of Australia’s key absences.
Rashid, however, does not agree – having been part of a team which also won 4-1 Down Under at the start of the year, when England began exacting a little white-ball revenge for their 4-0 Ashes hammering.
Asked if this summer’s series might have been very different against a full-strength Australia line-up, he said: “No, I don’t think so.
“Those players were still playing in Australia – Steve Smith, Warner, [Pat] Cummins, [Josh] Hazlewood. They were still playing.
“We won 4-1 there, and here it’s 4-0, so I think it’s very similar.”
Six months on, England are careful not to get ahead of themselves by focusing too early on what would be a proud and historic achievement.
“It would be [good],” Rashid said at the prospect of a whitewash. “But 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.”
He is England’s leading wicket-taker in the series, with 11 so far and 19 in tandem with fellow spinner Moeen Ali.
The dry, dusty environs of Old Trafford offer the prospect of more – and although the leg-spinner is not crowing about that yet either, he does acknowledge previous matches can get in batsmen’s heads.
“We can’t take it lightly but once you 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.
“So when they do bat against certain spin bowlers they might play a bit more hesitantly. They won’t be themselves, and that’s how you get the edge over the batsmen.”
Rashid moved above Graeme Swann as the England spinner with most ODI wickets, during Thursday’s victory at Chester-le-Street.
With 106 to his name, he said: “I’m proud of that. Swanny was a great bowler for England across all formats, so going past him means a lot.
“I hope it’s just the beginning, and I can carry that on for England.”
Rashid will not be adding to his wickets column in Test cricket, however, for the foreseeable future – having caused a stir last winter when, with a home World Cup on the horizon next summer, he chose to step aside from all first-class fixtures and specialise with the white ball.
He is at ease with the switch.
“I’ve got no regrets,” added the 30-year-old Bradford-born player.
“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.”