Mixed signals from Bangladesh tour
"Bangladesh have made us work exceptionally hard," said England's Man of the Series Graeme Swann, the second best bowler in world cricket, according to official rankings.
Bangladesh have now lost 57 of the 66 Tests they have played, but although Swann is a man prone to comic asides, he was speaking with deadly seriousness.
As their record shows, the leading sides in Test cricket do not, as a rule, struggle to get past the winning-post against Bangladesh, but England did.
Displaying levels of caution that would have been admirable had they been facing a fantasy bowling attack of Dennis Lillee, Curtly Ambrose, Wasim Akram and Shane Warne, they selected only four bowlers at Chittagong, preferring instead the insurance of an extra batsman.
Only one of those bowlers was a spinner but fortunately, that spinner was Swann who walked away with 10 wickets. England had the chance to wrap up the match with time to spare but decided not enforce the follow-on because of concerns that he and the other three bowlers would get too tired.
In Mirpur, however, they dropped Michael Carberry, pushed Jonathan Trott up to open the batting with skipper Alastair Cook, and picked an extra spinner in James Tredwell. The irony then was that Bangladesh's tail-enders added 105 for the last two wickets to reach a first innings total of 419.
Perhaps concerned that he did not want to face allegations of operating with defensive fields against meek opponents, Cook stubbornly spent the whole second morning without a third man in place as the two Islams, Naeem and Shafiul, helped themselves to the free boundaries on offer.
Mission accomplished - Swann, Cook and Pietersen celebrate England's series win - photo:Getty
Cook does not appear to be the most natural leader, he certainly needed plenty of assistance at times from other senior players and his bowling changes - particularly in the one-dayers which prceded the Tests - did verge on the dogmatic at times.
But he certainly energised his players - no mean feat in tough, strength-sapping conditions - and can now reflect on the decisions that worked and those that did not before he is next called upon to lead.
Coach Andy Flower said Cook would be a "much better, stronger lieutenant for this experience" as he prepares to play under Andrew Strauss's leadership once again.
One major positive is that captaincy appears to enhance rather than diminish Cook's batting, although how he would handle the dual role against stronger oppositions remains to be seen.
There were encouraging signs from various individuals during the 10 days of Test cricket England put themselves through on shamefully flat wickets.
It was always going to be interesting watching how Tredwell, a 28-year-old county stalwart, would perform when finally giving the chance - ahead of the exciting wrist-spinner Adil Rashid, 22, who was not even part of the touring party,
After a wicketless one-day appearance, Tredwell took 6-181 in the Mirpur Test and hit an important 37. One man watching back home would have felt vindicated.
After leading his county to victory in the 2007 Twenty20 Cup, Kent captain Rob Key briefly went even redder in the face than usual when chatting to journalists that night in Birmingham.
"Some of the spinners England pick aren't fit to tie James Tredwell's bootlaces," he said. But you could have heard a pin drop afterwards.
England need to be braver with their selection of spinners in general. Tredwell must now have a decent chance of playing in the next World Cup, but it was ridiculous that there were so many lightly-used seamers (Luke Wright, Ajmal Shahzad, Liam Plunkett) hanging around in Bangladesh instead of a third spin option.
The tireless Tim Bresnan did his chances of an Ashes tour next winter no harm at all - photo: AP
One man who really came of age on this tour was Tim Bresnan. England's leading wicket-taker in the one-dayers, he slotted into the thankless task of bowling seam-up with the old ball and did so well in the Tests, comfortably outbowling Stuart Broad.
He is clearly a very fit young man - it is worth bearing in mind he has only just turned 25 -who, like his erstwhile county colleague Darren Gough, has learned a few tricks to make things happen in the subcontinent - and Gough was never able to hit 91 in a Test innings.
England's batsmen had a good series, though Trott would have done better had he not received two dreadful decisions. (That apart, it was the Bangladeshis who got the rough end of the stick from the umpires).
Cook and Ian Bell emerged with averages in excess of 100, Paul Collingwood helped himself to a century and Kevin Pietersen exorcised some of his demons.
As for the one-day specialists, Craig Kieswetter recovered from two failures to hit an exciting century, but Eoin Morgan showed he really could be a man for all pitches with 179 runs at 89.50, scoring at better than a run a ball.
But further analysis of England's one-day performances reveals that Bangladesh were able to reach strong positions in each of the first two games and that some of the spells put in by England's seamers - with the exception of Bresnan - lacked accuracy.
To balance any criticism of England on this tour, it has to be pointed out that Bangladesh - and particularly their batsmen - are a fast-improving side who will surely begin to register more wins against some of the weaker Test nations.
That may happen in the ICC World Twenty20 in early May, the next engagement for each of these two teams. Bangladesh's opening batsman Tamim Iqbal, who has just turned 21, will be one to watch there.
England's hopes in that tournament are hard to calculate, but Owais Shah and Ravi Bopara have started well in the IPL so there should at least be enough batsmen to choose from.
Will England be brave enough to have three spinners in their final squad of 15? Sadly, that's a doubtful prospect.