Saturday, 20 March 2010

England winning, but Bangladesh could be winning in the long-run...

While there has been some criticsm that England have "only" taken 8 wickets in a day, were this not Bangladesh, the press would be dreaming up new superlatives to celebrate England's day. While England are not in firm control of the game, they are dominant, and if they bat well, should cement their position tomorrow.

Perhaps it is the preconception that Bangladesh were to be rolled over in two sessions, before conceding 700 runs for 3 wickets. However, after forcing England to 5 days in the first test (and not without an outside chance of saving the draw), and a fantastically attacking innings from Tamim Iqbal, it is evident that Bangladesh are not the poor outfit that everyone expected. While they do still have a long way to go before they can start winning games against the top test nations, they are starting to become competitive. England, or at least the English media, had underestimated the Bangladeshis, and if they reset their expectations, they will realise that they have performed fairly well today.

On debut, James Tredwell posed problems throughout (bowling 29 overs in the day); Graeme Swann bowled as well as ever, and Bresnan, Broad and Finn also chipped in. While England's catching was not great, there were a couple of good ones taken, and overall, wickets were taken at regular intervals. While there were a few 50 partnerships, England were able to keep pressure on, and never really allow Bangladesh to get firmly on top.

However, the 85 from 71 balls by Tamim Iqbal looked like it could. Attempting to score a century in the opening session, Iqbal may have been unfortunate to be given out on the sweep off Tredwell, with his attacking play accelerating the run rate, and causing Alastair Cook some real problems - his first proper test as English skipper, and the jury is still out as to whether he won that battle. The nature of Iqbal's dismissal (and those of Mahmudullah and Siddique) are indicative of the problems which beset Bangladeshi test cricket - they do not know when / how hard / whether to attack, and often go too hard, too early, and end up getting out. While that level of attacking may be acceptable in the one day formats, it often does not translate into test cricket, and will continue to hold Bangladesh back until they are able to rectify it.

I do not know just how much first-class cricket the Bangladeshi team have played, but some of the dismissals would be examples of those who have very little first class experience. This team will need to play more and more four or five day matches with the intention of playing long, big innings, rather than the quick-scoring cameos shown in this game.

While we won't really know just how good a batting pitch this is until England have a go (and hopefully double what Bangladesh get), Bangladesh have exploited it quite well, but the regular wickets mean that England have the upper hand . While this series is slipping away from Bangladesh, it may well be a different story the next time England travel to Dhaka and Chittagong.

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