Adil Rashid claims England are “not too worried” about their surprise defeat to Afghanistan and still believe they can breathe life back into their flagging World Cup campaign.
The reigning world champions suffered two heavy defeats in their first three games in India. He suffered defeat against New Zealand on the opening night in Ahmedabad before a major upset in Delhi on Sunday, where underdogs Afghanistan edged ahead by 69 runs.
The extended group stage means all is not lost, but England’s margin for error over the next six games is razor-thin and with in-form South Africa next up and favorites India still to come, things are unlikely to get any easier.
The precariousness of their position is sure to cause excitement behind the scenes but Rashid, one of eight survivors from the 2019 squad that won the trophy despite losing three of their nine group games, did his best to remain public to leave a calm face.
“It’s part of cricket: you win some, you lose some and you can’t win every game,” he said.
“It’s an essential part of the game. We’re not too worried. It’s just a game we lost. We know we have tough competition ahead, but I’m confident we can play really well as a unit in the future.
“Hopefully we can perform well and boost the competition. We know we still have six games left. Hopefully we can win and gain some momentum for the future. I have great confidence in the squad and the team. I’m sure we’ll come back strong.”
England fans would be forgiven for hoping for stronger words than those expressed in private, with issues of team selection, game management and mindset needing to be addressed.
There is also no shortage of time to ask difficult questions. England arrived in Mumbai on Monday without a chance to vent their frustrations against South Africa for six days as the Proteas traveled from the hills of Dharamshala after their clash with the Netherlands.
Because of this, the team has been given the next two days off rather than being forced to pay for their problems with additional net sessions, and some families are scheduled to take part in the tour.
Head coach Matthew Mott, who has not yet commented publicly on the trip, is expected to address the media on Tuesday.
Rashid was one of the few England players to perform anywhere near normal in the defeat to Afghanistan, taking 3 for 42 due to his broken legs, but he admitted the team’s collective effort was inadequate.
The 35-year-old even expressed concerns that the offensive, proactive approach that once marked his team as pioneers was no longer present.
“Hopefully we can just put it behind us and play the way we know how, with the ball, with the bat… that really positive attitude and really aggressive cricket,” he said.
“Obviously we came up short (this time) with bat and ball. “I don’t think we were aggressive enough or took the positive options.
“This is cricket, this is what happens, not every time you go out and hit sixes and fours – you have to judge the wicket and the pitch. It’s the same with the ball.
“There will be games where the players are out of shape, but I think we have the squad, the team and the mentality to still be hungry.
“We want to go as far as we can, but we have to take it one step at a time, one game at a time, and see where it takes us.”