Wednesday, 24 March 2010

What we learned from Bangladesh

Before this series started, I named the team who I thought would play in the 1st Test against Bangladesh at Lord's in the summer. The team of Cook, Strauss, Bell, Pietersen, Collingwood, Prior, Wright, Swann, Broad, Anderson and Onions. With Strauss, Anderson and Onions unavailable for the tour, there were opportunities for Carberry, Finn, Tredwell and Bresnan to stamp their authority on the team, and put forward a good case for their inclusion, with Cook given the chance to show why he has been regarded as a Future England Captain since he first broke into the team. And nobody really took that chance.

Yes, Tredwell bowled well in his only test, and yes, Bresnan batted well in the second test. Yes, Carberry looked good in the first test, and yes, Finn did cause some problems when he was allowed to bowl. But none of them proved to be better than any of the men they replaced, and as such, none of them will play in the first test at Lord's. Tredwell toiled away on a pitch which offered little to him, and probably out-bowled Swann in the second test; but Swann's continued high level of performances (including a ten wicket haul in the first test) means he will retain his place, with two spinners in England unfeasible. Bresnan bowled OK, taking some good wickets, and took advantage of a weak attack, but the nature of England's defensive team line-ups mean that they will play 7 batsmen, and Bresnan will not get into the team on his bowling alone. While he will probably travel to Australia in the winter, it will be as a reserve for Broad and Anderson. Finn likewise will go to the Ashes, but did nothing spectacular to show why he was playing test cricket at 20. The fact that Carberry was dropped for the second test shows he has no chance of playing in the summer; now acting as England's fourth choice opener behind Cook, Strauss and Trott.

Alastair Cook did not cover himself in glory as captain, proving to be more reactive than pro-active, but it was not "his" team, and when he is allowed to be full captain, he will have much more influence and a bigger say in the team direction. While his fields were often defensive and bizarre, he is an inexperienced captain, and the tour will help him gain that experience before he gets the job full-time (remember Strauss captaining England against Pakistan in 2006 before being appointed in 2009).

Following the series, my team for Lord's has changed, with Jonathan Trott retaining his place ahead of perennial water-boy Luke Wright. England have won 100% of their matches in the Desh, and while they have now a better idea of their squad at large, they know that those replacements proved that the first choice team (even in the absence of Strauss, Onions, Anderson and Sidebottom) are England's best eleven.

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