As England suffer a third defeat in the first four games of their tour of the West Indies, Adil Rashid says he is calm at the prospect of his once-conquering side stumbling around on the cricket-strewn seabed for a while. He believes it is an inevitable part of the sporting cycle that the winners also lose in the end.
“It’s OK, it happens,” he said. “You can’t always win world championships, you can’t win series every time. Of course we’d like to do that, but it’s an integral part of sport, not just cricket, in football – you see the best in the world, one minute they’re winning a World Cup, the next they’re losing.
“We still believe in ourselves. All we have to do is go out there and have that confidence, stick to our process and just play the game. But I’m not worried. You win something, you lose something.”
The problem is that England loses a lot. With Eoin Morgan as captain they won 60% of their games and lost 34%, but since Jos Buttler took over permanently last June and despite winning a T20 World Cup in that time, England’s win rate has fallen to 44%, and the Losses have skyrocketed to 52%. They have become a habit of losing.
But Rashid insists complacency has not crept into a group that has won World Cups in both formats within three years and has only now undergone a significant transformation after their failure at this year’s World Cup in India. “Every time you win a World Cup, you put it behind you and want to win the next one,” he said. “It’s not about, ‘We won a World Cup and it’s OK.’ No, when you put it behind you, you move on to win the next one and the next. You go out and give 100% with your mind and heart, and if you fall short, there’s no one to blame.”
After losing their ODI series against the West Indies 2-1, England are one behind in the five-match T20 series that began in Barbados on Tuesday and continues in Grenada on Thursday. In the opening game, their vaunted batting depth became shallower, with the final five wickets falling in 14 balls, adding six runs, giving them a disappointing total of 171. West Indies then overwhelmed them with a barrage of sixes – 49% Many of their runs came from them – as they galloped to victory by four wickets with 11 balls remaining.
England used the game as an opportunity to experiment with a spin-heavy team and, in addition to two spin-friendly all-rounders, Rashid and Rehan Ahmed, they also selected two specialist leg-spinners. The latter pair accounted for five of the six wickets to fall while also proving more cost-effective than Seam. If the approach continues to be successful, England are likely to follow the pattern, at least in some venues, when they return to the Caribbean for the T20 World Cup in June.
“In the long run, there is still a lot of cricket left for me and Reh to play,” said Rashid, who crowned his 100th T20 international with his 100th wicket on Tuesday. “We’re going to continue to come out, try to do our thing, do our best and leave the rest to the voters. “We play in the conditions we would play in, so it’s about adapting, finding people’s roles and finding a way to combat certain abilities. Hopefully we can be at our peak as a team and squad by the World Cup.”
The other notable experiment on Tuesday was the stopwatch, which gives fielding teams a maximum of 60 seconds after the end of an over to be ready for the start of the next over. Aside from the sight of Nicholas Pooran, the West Indies wicketkeeper, sprinting between overs, it had little visible impact and neither team incurred the ire of the umpires.
Long before the end, the organizers had stopped showing the countdown between each over on the big screen at Kensington Oval. “It didn’t have as big of an impact as I thought it would,” Uttler said. “When I hit, after only about 30 seconds, everyone seemed to be in place.”