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Mixed signals from Bangladesh tour

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Oliver Brett | 11:46 UK time, Wednesday, 24 March 2010

"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.

Graeme Swann, Alastair Cook and Kevin PietersenMission 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.

Tim Bresnan takes a wicketThe 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.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    I would say all the objectives that England came out to Bangladesh with have been largley achieved.

    I feel, Mr. Brett, that you criticise England too harshly in the style of their win here. England and Mr. Cook can only beat what is put in front of them, which they did comfortably in the end, and test cricket by its very nature is sometimes slower than prefferd. It is wrong to call Cooks style 'caution' when in fact it was good discipline on incredibly flat wickets.

    I would also like to highlight Ian Bells improvement under pressure, hopefully after a couple of years of middle order supremity he can graduate to the spellbinding no.3 we all lust after!

  • Comment number 2.

    I think we are all being a bit negative here, not helped by many "informed" bloggers. Look at this for what it is, a 5-0 win. Then consider the ludicorus pitches, over used maybe, but my Mum could have got a 50 out there, our weakened attack, the need to get some guys into form before the summer and learning to win on the sub-continent and I think this was a top performance - I may be wrong, but when India played the Tigers recently I remember the Bangldeshis getting decent innings scores. So lets celebrate, it could all have gone terribly wrong, but didn't - cheer up you lot.

  • Comment number 3.

    Concentrating on the many positives:
    -Ian Bell, showed the class we've wanted to see for years, and is adding grit to go with his faultless technique
    -Tim Bresnan, I was hugely impressed with this lad, previously i had doubts over his international credentials, but i think that this tour has shown he is a more accurate bowler than Broad, and probably a better Batsman to be honest.
    - Ali Cook, brilliant with the Bat, has clearly added something to his game with more attacking intent, although there were questionable decisions made as captain he did win every game!!!
    Tredwell - looks like a capable back up for Swann, or if we need 2 spinners

    All i would question is Stuart Broad, am i the only person that thinks this bloke is grossly overrated??
    I just feel his bowling isnt really progressing, he bowls generally too short and is erratic with the new ball. He's lost confidence with the bat, and seems vulnerable to a half decent spinner. His attitude whilst fiery, is becoming rather embarrising and petulant - interested to hear your views on him Oliver

  • Comment number 4.

    Oliver,

    I'm not sure England struggled to get past the winning post, really. they managed to take 20 wickets twice on unresponsive pitches, post 1st innings total s of 600 and 500 and won the games by 181 runs or nine wickets. At what point was this series actually close?

  • Comment number 5.

    Oh yes, and this was without their captain and first choice strike bowler and a very inexperienced bowling attack.....

  • Comment number 6.

    This is as comprehensive a tour summary as I've seen for a while. Thank you, OB.

    One point needs emphasis, I feel: that of "tiredness in conditions of high humidity." I well remember walking (slowly) alongside the Mississippi in conditions of 90+% humidity and feeling utterly drained after 200 metres or so. Perhaps pre-tour fitness programmes do include "humidity training," but if they don't, they should.

  • Comment number 7.

    Before we start lambasting England just remember that these were very flat pitches, Bangladesh are getting better and we didn't exactly have our strongest team out and we still won 2-0. You can't ask for much more than that, surely.

  • Comment number 8.

    High humidity and temperatures of 40 degrees. Really tough batting and bowling conditions for England especially those who batted for many hours. A thought also for those in fielding positions which sap the energy like silly point and short leg under the helmet. Not surprising that Bell switched his helmet when batting for a cap when he could. He came in at 107-3 and took the score to near parity nearly seven hours and 300 runs later. Why wasn't he MOM? Very strange to give it to the losing captain who made key mistakes which cost the game despite his wickets and runs. Bell's innings and partnerships turned the game in England's favour.

  • Comment number 9.

    If this series provided mixed signals, I don't expect things to be any clearer by the time the team is on the plane to Oz. A return series on home ground should be as much of a formality as were the West Indies last year.

    Pakistan are a team in turmoil that England should beat in the test arena but have a closely fought ODI season.

    At least we have a more experienced VC and a couple of young players in Kieswetter and Morgan making competition for places. Not sure there is significantly more competition for places amongst the bowlers.

    The Ashes clock is ticking...

  • Comment number 10.

    I'm sorry Oliver, usually you write better stuff than this.....if England don't win by 500 runs, then everyone slams them! Who would want to be a professional sportsman in this country with a media like this??

    "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."

    Where and when did we struggle to win this? The result was never in doubt. At no point were England's backs against the wall. At no point were we reduced to 78-5 as your blog would seem to imply. We won by huge margins in both tests against a rapidly improving side. Job done. I guess that's not much of a story though is it?

    It gets worse...

    "Only one of those bowlers was a spinner but fortunately, that spinner was Swann who walked away with 10 wickets."

    So England go in with 4 bowlers, and only one spinner - who wins the match for them, and they STILL made the wrong decision in your eyes? Unbelievable.

    We went to Bangladesh with a side missing some key players, blooded a new captain, spin bowler, 20 year old fast bowler, experimented with the batting line up, and STILL won 2-0 and yet it's all going wrong?

    I wish we had a supportive media that built up and encouraged our players and backed them. I wonder what we could achieve then....

  • Comment number 11.

    Oliver, you have stated that "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" in your article; surely Bangladesh's record will show that England have comprehensively beaten them in both tests here as well. I'm sure that other teams have struggled in sessions against them and finished with statistically pleasing wins, as England have.
    The side was lacking experience in the bowling department so were always going to have to work hard for their wins on a couple of less than helpful pitches. It was a learning curve for the side as a whole under the freshly appointed captain for this tour, and I feel that the side will have benefited from playing in tough conditions- at times having to dig deep to win the matches.

  • Comment number 12.

    Congratulations to Oliver for excellent balanced reporting!

  • Comment number 13.

    I feel you're being a bit harsh on England there, Oliver. You say that the other top teams never struggle to beat Bangladesh. This is not true. The Bangles have consistently held their own with the bat in the 1st innings before seemingly running out of ideas when it comes to progressing the game in their favour by bowling the oppo out cheaply or posting a competitive 2nd innings score. This is what happened in this 2nd Test. They batted very well 1st innings and had England in hot water, had Bell gone cheaply then they were well in the driving seat. But a poor 2nd innings and an even worse bowling performance was produced by a team who lack self belief, confidence and experience of winning. Maybe if more went abroad, say into county cricket like Shakib is this year, then they will improve their own game as well as learning how to win matches.

    I thought Bresnan had a good game and has possibly jumped ahead of Onions in the pecking order for the summer. Other positives were the emergence of Finn and the continued improvement from Bell, who seems technically a much better player than over the last couple of years.

    On Tredwell, he did ok but is clearly not in the same bracket as Swann in terms of talent and ability. Fortunately for England, our home conditions, and those in Australia, do not require two spinners and so our normal 3 seamers, one spinner bowling attack should suffice.

  • Comment number 14.

    I follow the cricket via BBC blog from the US.
    This match was played on Bangladesh turf, under fairly extreme conditions, against the same opposition other countries have failed to overecome. What constitutes failure in any of that? NO other country still claims that honor. Be proud of your men for a change. Still, for the most part, Mr. Brett's criticism is deserved, especially the 3rd man fiasco.

  • Comment number 15.

    I think Mr Brett has pulled together a very fair summation of a successful series with a few worrying aspects. The low point - for me - was Graeme's Swann's obscenity as he got Bangladesh's best batsman, but at least he apologised and maybe Alistair Cook has booked himself in for an ear syringe so little quips like that are no longer inaudible to him.
    Delighted to see James Tredwell do well - so to speak. If only Kent's captain was given another try at Test level, though - in fairness - England's batting looks pretty strong, paricularly if Pietersen recreates his form against the stronger nations.

  • Comment number 16.

    Tredwell is not as good as Panesar in my opinion. Most of his wickets were flukes, wrong decisions or players slogging him!

    1. Tamim caught off his arm, no bat involved.
    2. Good ball to get out Shakib lbw.
    3. Siddique caught and bowled off Cook's foot at silly point.
    4. Shafiul Islam caught at mid-wicket after a slog.
    5. Naeem Islam slogs it right to mid-on.
    6. Shakib stumped after racing down the pitch as last man.

    1 wrong decision, 1 total fluke and 3 slogged victims. He did OK, no more and no less. If we ever played 2 spinners again, I'd far rather see Panesar or Patel or Rashid!

  • Comment number 17.

    England had all the weapons for success in their Bangladesh expedition. Quality bowlers to get the 40 Bangla wickets in the two Test Matches, sound openers with positive contributions from the middle and lower middle order batters.

    Bangladesh batters did well in notching up more than 600 runs in each of the two five dayers. Victories were achieved only on the last days of the test matches. Bangladesh is getting better. Their batting has looked decent with some memorable performances from their frontline batsmen and the allrounders. They need a couple of strike bowlers in their pace and spin departments.

    Congratulations to Alastair Cook and his England team.



    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 18.

    Typical negative article, typical of all our 'glass half empty'. We beat the Aussies but apparantly are lucky. We draw away against the best team in the world, but were 'largely outplayed' (as one journo said) and now we've won a series 2-0 - but that's just ok

    Lighten up please!!!!!

  • Comment number 19.

    Fair play Oliver for not sitting on the fence as could so often be the case. An issue I see is still this frustrating negative attitude i.e. playing only four bowlers on one of the flattest pitches in the world ranks up there with the wimpish performance mindset showed in the West Indies when batting on and on or sending out a night-watchman with 500 on the board!!! Why on earth can they not understand the positive aggressio with which Australia play?

    Ashes win aside, I remain unconvinced of Flower who I just wish would open up in interviews more and drop this seemingly deliberate defensive and very wooden persona. The interviews are frankly a waste of everyones time. Is this really the 'ballsy' guy who made such a major stand on the worldstage a few years back??

    Nice to hear some fresh commentators although Dominic Cork, who I like in the pundit role, showed a lack of being in touch with the game when arrogatly dismissing the names on the back of shirts idea with no consideration for spectators trying to fathom out the identify of overseas players they have never seen before.

  • Comment number 20.

    This is a good, balanced view. It would be absurd to take too many negatives from two such comfortable wins, but on the other hand one would hope that lessons could be learned. The main lesson being: "Don't field a lone spinner on the subcontinent." It's very hard to defend the decision (well done for trying, though, chaps), especially since this error led directly to England declining the follow-on. Against marginally better opposition, this would have made the difference between winning and drawing.

  • Comment number 21.

    After having read the blog and the first 19 comments, I have to agree with the sentiment that this is way too harsh and negative.

    Consider this:

    - We didn't have our full strength team
    - One of these was our captain; the stand in captain is relatively young and inexperienced
    - It was away from home, in difficult conditions which suited them more than us
    - The pitches were unhelpful
    - Bangladesh are improving are may not be the whipping boys of test cricket for much longer

    Yet we won all our matches, for the most part at a canter. There may have been a couple of moments where we looked vulnerable, but IMHO at no point did it look like we would fail to win, let alone lose. I totally disagree that we "struggled to get past the winning post"

    What annoys me about this is the kind of drip-drip-drip 'water torture' effect that this sort of journalism does (or may) have on our sports teams. It must be so demoralising to go ou, give your best, win and then read this sort of carping. You might expect it from the tabloids, but why can't there be a more positive / constructive message from the BBC? Something to the effect of "We won and won well, but there are still a few areas in which we can improve"

    Shame on you Oliver!

  • Comment number 22.


    Far stronger sides have struggled against Bangladesh. Take this match:

    http://www.cricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/238171.html

    That Aussie side had two superb slow bowlers in Warne and MacGill playing, a good seam attack (Lee, Gillespie and Clark is a stronger seam attack than the Aussie attack stuck out against New Zealand this week), and a batting lineup that screams runs. When India last played Bangladesh, their bowling lineup had more experience than ours, and their batting had all the big guns playing at some point, Dhoni to Tendulkar.

    England did not have a strong team in Bangladesh. Our leading batsman and captain was absent, we had a rookie captain, our big man in Pietersen came in with no kind of form, and our bowling attack looked cobbled together at times. Stuart Broad was our experienced attack leader! A year ago, people were asking if he was good enough for Test cricket, let alone acting as attack spearhead. This England team was a long way below our first choice XI. We played on pitches politely described as 'dead' and better described as being 'flatter than the alleged humour of James Corden'. The pitches nulified any advantage our seamers had over the Bangladesh batsmen compared to previous years and made the Tests battles of attrition rather than domination. In many ways, that was a brilliant thing to happen. It made England play in a very un-England way. It made us fight and scrap for runs at times. It made us work the opposition down when we had the ball. There are few tours where the majority of those who played away can come away and say that they've improved as cricketers, but this really is one of them. Cook has improved his captaincy skills, and I expect to see him given more responsibility in the future. Pietersen has worked out his technique and looks better, Finn has experience, Bresnan has been very surprising indeed (I freely admit to not ranking him and the jury is out until he faces a decent side, but give him credit where it's due for now), Swann keeps on going, Tredwell has done good work, Prior will have gained something from keeping to slow bowlers for long periods... it's been a very positive training exercise for both teams, as the improvement in the Bangladeshi players with the bat is evident.

    It's somewhat dull to turn back to Adil Rashid again. Quite simply, he isn't ready. We only need to look at Swann to see what can happen if you pick someone too young. Swann was picked when he wasn't ready, did his time, came back into the squad, and looks fantastic. Rashid has so much ability but there hasn't appeared to be a consistent plan as to how to utilise his skills, going by the two successive winter drinks waiter tours he went on in the West Indies and then South Africa, whilst the like of Gareth Batty were actually bowling for the Lions. One has to wonder whether Rashid would actually be best served by doing something similar to Panesar and playing for someone like a South African side. The more you bowl, the more you learn, and leg spin bowling is perhaps the hardest discipline in cricket to embrace.

    One person who surely will not feature again is Sidebottom. The injuries look to have hamstrung him (I pause for your pun-loving applause) and I see no place in any format for him. He had his spells in the past and should be congratulated for those but now it's time to look elsewhere.

    For the Bangladesh tour of England, I hope we see some radical moves. Strauss will come back in, and I for one am looking forward to Strauss and Cook opening together. Both have added to their games after periods of relative lack of success, Cook's new love of hitting sixes being an obvious example. I suspect Trott and not Carberry will be viewed as the replacement opener for the next year. It did seem that Trott wasn't as comfortable against spin as he is against seam bowling so dropping him in at 3 would be the answer. However Ian Bell is showing form. Perhaps pushing Trott back into county cricket for a time to sort out a few issues would be beneficial. KP seems happier again so go with him at 4.
    I've said before I'd drop Collingwood for the Test series.

    With so much cricket this year and in the winter, we need a rotation policy, and Collie is going to be one of the guys to play all three formats. I would rest him for the Test series, let him play county cricket, and bring Eoin Morgan in for his debut against Bangladesh. His performances in one-day cricket warrant a chance in the Test squad for this series. He has something special about him, and a middle order with KP and Morgan batting together could provide the sort of attacking and inventive batting that a 32 year old England fan like myself have never seen. I don't care about Morgan's first class average last season. He's shown more than enough at international level to get a Test slot opportunity for me, and this is the series to experiment.

    My squad for the first Test against Bangladesh at Lords in May:

    Strauss
    Cook
    Bell
    Pietersen
    Morgan
    Prior
    Broad
    Swann
    Bresnan
    Anderson
    Finn (if you want five bowlers) or Trott (if you want six batsmen)

    The 'one more' is the puzzle. It depends on whether England want to go batting heavy or keep the bowlers going. If they want the bowler, then Finn is the obvious choice on home soil at Lords. If they want the batsman, bring Trott back.

  • Comment number 23.

    agreed banbrotam, it seems some people are obsessed with the idea that England are a struggling test nation, even though 12 months of brilliant results suggest otherwise

  • Comment number 24.

    I have to say I don't like to jump on the bandwagon but I do think the article is focusing on the negatives a bit too much. The fact is no-one is thinking or saying that because we've won this series we can go to Australia with this team and win the Ashes abroad. There's a lot of work to do still but this was a good learning curve for a lot of players and I think everyone's performed pretty well. OK there has been the odd bad day here and there but that's Test cricket. You're not going to play 2 Tests away from home and have 10 days of perfect cricket.

    The fact is though the batsmen all contributed and the bowlers all contributed. Broad wasn't great but then I don't think he was fully fit, he still took a couple of wickets. The pitches were horrendous and were designed with draws in mind so for an inexperienced bowling attack to take the necessary wickets was good work. Whether it was against Banladesh or not they still had to put the ball in the right places which they did. All the batsmen scored some good runs, they will have some extra confidence from this series that they can bat a bit on the sub-continent.

    As for Captain Cook, could he have done better? Well ideally England wouldn't have let Bangladesh add a hundred for the last couple of wickets in the last Test. But the fact is all the matches were won, he scored good runs and the results were never really in danger. I think it's worth remembering that aren't England the only Test playing nation that Bangladesh haven't beaten in one form of cricket? To come away with that record still intact is a decent achievement.

    I see what you're saying in that England aren't the finished article and there's still work to be done, but I don't think anyone was saying they are the finished article. It just feels like this piece could have been a bit more balanced. I know you've tried to do that at the end but I don't think you can consider those few lines to balance out the rest of the article.

    Anyway it was a good read I'd have just preferred to see a bit less of the negative.

  • Comment number 25.

    good win

  • Comment number 26.

    "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."

    Baffled by this comments, really am. England didn't stuggle to get past the winning post at all. Both test were comfortable wins. Bangladesh played well, lets recognise that, and England were just superior.

    Jees people were right when they said this is a lose-lose situation for England. They were professional, and as for the follow-on issue in the first test, well it was good that England played 4 innings of that match, as they were bound to win the match form the position they put themselves in. It all added for more experience.

    3-0 in the One-dayers, 2-0 in the tests, it was an ideal tour of the worst test nation in the world.

  • Comment number 27.

    Any chance AndyPlowright (22) can get his own column?

  • Comment number 28.

    Agree with many of the posters on here. If I could be bothered, I would go back and find references of this tour being "a real test of character", "not a simple turn up and win" etc, etc. But all of a sudden, when the team does achieve a series whitewash (albeit two tests) they are criticised left, right and centre.

    Name me an experienced captain that doesn't get the odd decision wrong, let alone a rookie on foreign soil and in tough climatic conditions. I seem to recall the West Indies being given sympathy when they came over the other year and played in what for them must have been like arctic conditions, and yet the same is not allowed for England? What gives, especially when the guys have just won a tough test, on a flat wicket, with only one man down in the second innings.

    Without taking every single incident in isolation, I'm not sure what more the team could have done, save for practice a bit more in the field!

    I'm afraid there is more than a touch of the Phil McNulty creeping in here, and as I've stopped reading his guff every week, it looks like I could be steering clear of the BBC's cricket blogs too.

    Well done A Cook. Well done debutants. Well done England.

    Oliver Brett? Must try harder.

  • Comment number 29.

    "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."

    Baffled by this comments, really am.

    ===

    Yep, the glass half empty's are always right and there is no debate in their mind!

    "England always do this, always guilty of that, the australians do this, they do that, England are negative, could have won this easily, should have done this"

    It's like they make mental notes of the moments they thought were errors, completely ignore everything else and just talk endlessly about those moments they remember.

    Still bang on about the west indies tour and the decisions made on that.

  • Comment number 30.

    yeah blah blah blah england are rubbish, i mean they only won 100% of their games. this summer, i want to see england win every game TWICE. and don't get me started on alastair cook! TWO whole games in charge and he had to ask advice from senior, former captains like collingwood and pietersen??? what a joker.if you're not the best captain in the world after 2 games, when will you be mr cook??? bring back mike atherton i say. and why were there so many pace bowlers in the squad? if we had taken 3 spinners we could have introduced a radical SIMULTANEOUS TRIFECTOR OF SPIN, SWANN AND TREDWELL AT EITHER END WITH RASHID BOWLING FROM THE SIDE. as it was, the two spinners could only account for a meagre 22 wickets between them, a far cry from the 4 wickets giles and batty magiced up in 2003.

    my overall rating of the england tour: 0/10

  • Comment number 31.

    10. "Where and when did we struggle to win this? The result was never in doubt."

    ------------------

    We struggled to win this when we were 107-3 replying to 419, with only the wicketkeeper and our five bowlers padded up, that's when. And I'll tell you something else, but for a series of umpiring errors going our way in our first innings - Bresnan adding about 90 runs to his score and Prior 60 - we would have almost certainly trailed heavily and been under significant pressure in the second half of the match.

    ------------------

    Also, it's surprising how many people also use the fact that Strauss and Anderson were resting as some sort of excuse for not looking more convincing. You wouldn't hear Cook or Flower do that so why should you? Choose to rest top players and then accept what happens...

    -------------------

    26. As it happens, I believe Cook was right not to enforce the follow-on in Chittagong, but it would have been nice if he had felt able to do so (and with an extra bowler to use that would at least have been a valid option)

    ---------------------

    A couple more general points. We are talking about England here, a reasonably strong side who hold the Ashes, who would have beaten South Africa but for some poor batting in Johannesburg. Are we not entitled to expect them to beat Bangladesh well?

    And it's not as though my piece is some sort of anti-England diatribe. The second half of this blog is pretty positive when assessing individual performances.

  • Comment number 32.

    AndyPlowright....spot on!

    Just jumping on the bandwagon and disagreeing with the article....

    1. India, the number 1 test side, only got 243 in their first innings in the first test, and in both tests Bangladesh scored more than 300 runs in one of the innings
    2. Against New Zealand, Bangladesh hit 408....Bangladesh are not woeful at batting in their home conditions, so I think our bowlers deserve credit!!!

    However, I think they're going to struggle allround in English conditions, hence why I agree with Plowright that we should rest Colly and try out Morgan. He's young, and clearly a future Test player, so why not give him a taste now and give Colly a deserved break. He won't start in the Ashes, but he'll be in the squad and then he can be first choice replacement for any injuries.

    Team for 1st Test against Bangladesh:

    Strauss, Cook, Pietersen, Morgan, Bell, Prior, Bresnan, Swann, Broad, Anderson, Finn

    Other players I'd like to see in and around the squad: Bopara, Trott, Woakes, Tredwell, Plunkett, Onions

    I don't know about anyone else, but I quite like the idea of Pietersen batting at 3. As for a 5 man bowling attack, it's not to do with insurance for injuries, but about offering the captain variety. Back in 2005 that's what we had and I think we need to try and recreate that.

  • Comment number 33.

    Bangladesh have troubled sides in the one day game, but we won all 3.

    In the tests, we won by 181 runs and 9 wickets. In India's 2 match series against Bangladesh, they won by 113 runs and ten wickets.

    I really don't know what more we could have asked from the team. Strauss, Anderson and Onions all missed out, Broad never looked 100% and Pieterson was dreadfully out of nick coming into the series, but we won 3/3 ODIs (continuing our ODI 'renaissance') and won the tests by comfortable margins.

    At no point in either test did I think that we wouldn't win.

  • Comment number 34.

    "We struggled to win this when we were 107-3 replying to 419" In the first innings of the test match? Surely it's a marathon, not a sprint. Hardly cause for concern, especially given the eventual outcome of England's first innings.

    "And I'll tell you something else..." That's right, get on the offensive

    "we would have almost certainly trailed heavily and been under significant pressure in the second half of the match" How can you possibly say that. If those guys were given out, then who's to say the rest of the team wouldn't have tried to stick around. You simply cannot presume they would have done anything. The key word is IF. IF it had rained, it may have been a draw. IF Bangladesh got the decisions they would have won. But they didn't.

    "Are we not entitled to expect them to beat Bangladesh well?" Er, yes. That's why they did.

    Sorry, but you've lost a reader.

  • Comment number 35.

    England may have been in a bad position at one point in the second test, but they'd come through it by the end of the innings. There are too many ifs and buts in order to fairly criticise England. If it were the other way, and we'd actually played badly and lost, then there'd be no excuses either, no ifs or buts.

    It was easy for England, and they did more than enough to show they could brush aside Bangladesh, in what looked like grim, unmotivating conditions. It's actually quite pleasing that a lot of the batsmen performed well in what was an Empty, grubby cricket shack, against average opposition, in very warm conditions.

    Can't go overboard on the positives, but can't see too many negatives either. It was comprehensive. I don't think there's much room for analysis. Everything is leading up to the Ashes in November and we'll be looking at how individuals perform against Pakistan.

    It's not long since South Africa, in a series which we were probably more than fortunate to come home with a draw. But that gave us a far better indicator to where we are with this team. We had good bowling performances in general, while Cook, Bell and Collingwood got themselves into better form. The only player with a small question mark from that series was Pietersen, and he's come back and scored 250 runs in 2 tests. It doesn't mean a great deal, but it will give him confidence, and he looked up for it this series, and we'll need Pietersen to be on top form come the summer and winter.

    The only question that England need to answer now is who is the extra bowler(s) to help out Swann, Anderson and Broad, and a more game-to-game question would be how many batters and bowlers do we play. If it's 5 bowlers, Bresnan looks a good bet, because he'd be an ideal 4th seamer with the old ball, and he can bat as well. If it's a third seamer, they'll probably stick with Onions.

  • Comment number 36.

    I see where you're coming from Oliver, but I think your blog appears over-critical of England, intentional or otherwise. You try for some balance in the second half, but the damage has been done by then. In two of the ODI's and both tests, Bangladesh had maybe one good period where England were in a little trouble (eg the 107-3 you mention) but on each occasion England overcame it relatively comfortably. They could have batted more aggressively over the past two days but the way they chose to go about it resulted in a nine-wicket victory, so fair enough, I say.

    I just feel that Bangladesh are still judged on their performances over the past ten years, rather than on the evident talent they are developing (especially in their middle-order batting) that they have never had before. I for one hope that Shakib, Mushfiqr Rahim, Mahmadullah, Siddique and Tamim perform exceptionally over the next few years and win Bangladesh some matches, so we can maybe look back on this series and say "hang about, England actually did well to take 40 wickets there on such flat pitches".

    Having said that, Bangladesh have very little to offer in the bowling department, and are unlikely to develop much if the pitches are all like that. Surely every young Bangladeshi cricketer must want to be a batsman - its no fun bowling on that. Fingers crossed they sort it out, its been great to have a bit more variety in England's opposition.

    Final word on England - they aren't actually all that good! They've done fantastically well to get good series results against better sides than them (Australia and South Africa) and have now dispatched an improving Bangladesh side comfortably. But there are still four sides with more world-class performers. So the points you make about the areas we need to improve on are valid, they just come across as over-critical.

    PS - Strauss, Kieswetter, Pietersen, Collingwood, Morgan, Prior, Flintoff/Wright, Swann, Bresnan, Broad, Anderson looks a good outside bet for the World Cup!

  • Comment number 37.

    England once again just squeak home against Bangladesh - this time with only 10 overs remaining.

    This does suggest the two nations are on broadly the same level, when it comes to Test Cricket.

  • Comment number 38.

    Yes, let's look at the positives, which will come with the confidence gained by the new(-ish) boys (albeit against limited opposition), namely:

    Bresnan
    Tredwell
    Finn

    and the confirmation of Bell's return to form here and in S Africa, and Alistair Cook's form with the bat at the same time as leading for the first time.

    For the not-so-good's on this occasion, we know Broad can be a match-winner when fit, we know Trott can be obdurate when necessary. All in all, with two class acts to come back, I think the future looks OK, if not brilliant - but then I can remember Brett Lee's early test appearances.


  • Comment number 39.

    A typically negative blog. The vast majority of this tour has been positive and yet you have reported it as mediocre at best and a failure at worst.

    We won the first test convincingly and yet your report stated that "England had laboured to victory". There was nothing laboured about it, a methodical and convincing victory would be more accurate. Likewise in this second test.

    Why do you feel the need to criticise constantly?

  • Comment number 40.

    Let's all take a step back and look at what we have just witnessed...first and foremost..An England win on the sub-continent...on flat pitches... against a young,improving,talented in some areas,cricket playing nation...Well done boys...secondly...we didn't lose...ermmm..c'mon chaps lets just move on and look forward to the future of english cricket..we certainly have the makings of a very good,combative team..tours like these will only improve our game...yes I know it wasn't India,Pakistan or Sri Lanka but jeeeez it was good to watch in places and to be honest Bangladesh have some very, very promising players....and bloody good luck to them.Hail an England win and bring on the Aussies !!!

  • Comment number 41.

    Oliver

    You really are getting a decent response to your blog. Glad we are all different otherwise life would be boring. Notwithstanding comments already posted it's important to liven debate by expressing opinions and your right to express yours are the very basis of why we live in, and fought for, our democracy. Equally of course we don't have to agree with a thing you have written.....and seemingly most don't.

  • Comment number 42.

    An interesting post; I think England deserve credit for the win. More interesting to me though is how Bangladesh have progressed. They are a young side so there's plenty of potential there.

    Jamie Siddons, however, must be tearing his hair out with his top order: Batting wise they are nearly there, but there were too many glory 40s for me. Bear in mind that even when the players went on to score bigger scores, the innings played were rarely chanceless.

    This may be a consequence of the style of cricket that they play in domestic competition; the young players coming through need to play more in an environment that is conducive to developing their skills.

    I'm an England fan, but I'd like to see more teams world wide playing cricket at a high level (sauce for the goose so to speak); it seems to me a good thing for international cricket would be to get Bangladeshi players playing in some of the more intensive domestic cricket games, such as Grade or Sheffield Shield cricket in Australia or the first class system in the UK. In particular, this would be good for development of Bangladeshi pace bowlers, as they are going to get nowhere playing on rock hard sub-continental pitches such as the ones we've just witnessed in Bangladesh.

  • Comment number 43.

    "And I'll tell you something else, but for a series of umpiring errors going our way in our first innings - Bresnan adding about 90 runs to his score and Prior 60 - we would have almost certainly trailed heavily and been under significant pressure in the second half of the match."

    Isn't Bresnan adding 90 and Prior 60 part of England's game? Where those two drafted in as extra players? I think they were just part of the England team. It's like saying "if we hadn't scored twice we'd have drawn 0-0."

  • Comment number 44.

    I think it’s definitely an English trait to find negative aspects in things that are on the whole positive.

    I really don't understand like 99% of the posters on here how Oliver’s Blog has the negative feeling it does.
    Also his justifications for his points later are quite funny!

    I’m very very pleased with how this tour has gone England have had competitive games on the subcontinent. (Much better than two 3 day walk-overs) This is great experience for an inexperienced attack. Also Bell, Pieterson and Cook have all batted well.
    England now can move on to dominate the summer before the real stuff begins next winter.

  • Comment number 45.

    meiklelogie (41)

    As Mark Twain said 'it is a difference of opinion that makes horse races', but neither betting on horse races or debating cricket matches define democracy, I suspect - I'm under the impression that the Chinese like a good gamble, and probably a good argument.

    As Mark Twain also said 'democracy is the system where we get to choose who to blame for the next 4 years'. I think the word 'choose' here is important.

  • Comment number 46.

    Oliver,


    "We struggled to win this when we were 107-3 replying to 419, with only the wicketkeeper and our five bowlers padded up, that's when. And I'll tell you something else, but for a series of umpiring errors going our way in our first innings - Bresnan adding about 90 runs to his score and Prior 60 - we would have almost certainly trailed heavily and been under significant pressure in the second half of the match."


    So what? You look at the end result. Manchester United won a European Cup with two goals in injury time. They don't care that for 90 minutes of the game they were not in front, and that the Germans scored after 6 minutes. The end result is all that matters. Umpiring errors helped us here and they helped us to win the Ashes. We've had decisions go against us in the past. A striker doesn't hand back a goal if he's incorrectly not given offside, and England shouldn't have to apologise for the errors the umpires made. We went and capitalised on those errors and actually focused very well on the game in the Bangladesh second innings.


    "Also, it's surprising how many people also use the fact that Strauss and Anderson were resting as some sort of excuse for not looking more convincing. You wouldn't hear Cook or Flower do that so why should you? Choose to rest top players and then accept what happens..."

    It's a factor though. India didn't rest the like of Tendulkar against Bangladesh. Their batting lineup was pretty much full strength. Ours was not. We had a noob captain. Our bowling line up was nowhere near full strength given that Anderson was out, Onions was out, Sidebottom left the tour, Broad hasn't looked in the best of physical fettle all tour, and our other seam options are not too experienced. A combination of flat wickets, Bangladeshi batting improvement, and a weaker England team made for a tougher series than was expected by many people.

    I do agree with you on Cook's declaration. Totally the right thing to do.


    "Are we not entitled to expect them to beat Bangladesh well?"


    Are we entitled to expect Manchester United to beat Leeds in the FA Cup? Were we entitled to expect Australia to beat Bangladesh in 2005? The minute a side thinks it is entitled to beat any team it faces is the moment when that team sets itself up for a long hard fall flat on its face (see 'England versus the Netherlands, 2009' or perhaps 'India versus the West Indies, World Cup Final 1983'). I'm sure the West Indies under Chris Gayle felt they would steamroller Zimbabwe in the T20 not long ago and look what happened then. All times, be they Australia or Bangladesh, deserve respect.

  • Comment number 47.

    Dear Plowright (46 and earlier)

    Yes, all the right points, if not necessarily in the right order, as Eric Morecombe would have said.

    Appreciate your thoughts, but maybe a course in succinctness at the local college wouldn't go amiss - you clearly have time on your hands.

  • Comment number 48.

    Lancer01:

    Yes, I do. It's called 'I don't watch television and spend time writing on the sport I love instead'. Having given up smoking last year, I find I have so much more time to play with now.

    If you want succinct soundbites that are easier to skim read, try Twitter :)

  • Comment number 49.

    46. The thing is, Andy, I was specifically asked by someone "Where and when did we struggle to win this [second Test]? The result was never in doubt?"

    I merely indicated one occasion when I believe an England win was very much in doubt. Is that so hard to grasp?

    43. I assume you misunderstood me. The runs added by Bresnan and Prior were AFTER each should have been given out by two Antipodean umpires who were villified in the local press the next day. All the England cheerleaders on this blog appear to have conveniently ignored this fact...

  • Comment number 50.

    So we travel to the sub continent with a stand-in skipper, new players to blood, a number 4 playing like a number 11 and come away with runs in the bag, wickets galore and 2 of the most comfortable test victories you would ever see. The resulting blog? Nothing but drivel. I understand you need to get people to read what you say but do you really need to be so obviously derisory for the sake of being controversial?

  • Comment number 51.

    It's pretty staggering that we won 2-0, away from home, on the subcontinent where our bowlers are not at their best, with a weakened team, once by 181 runs and once by 9 wickets, and we can still find things to moan about.

  • Comment number 52.

    Ummm..what about Luke Wright then?
    I have scoured many sites looking for any reference to him. remember him? he was the guy who was part of the selected test squad for South Africa and bangladesh. And yet the only sighting of him in the tests has been as "twelfthers". England need a batting replacement, call for carberry; England need a bowling replacement, call for finn. even more bizarrely..england need bowlers who can bat, call for Tredwell and Bresnan.
    Well umm..if Wright was ahead of the others in one of those categories, as he presumably was when the touring parties were selected, what has he done wrong??

  • Comment number 53.

    Some interesting stuff here. I very much like Andy Plowright's two, common-sense macro posts. And I agree that Oliver has tended to be overcritical... but read on on this one.

    The BBC prides itself on balance and lack of bias. In other words, unlike the media in many countries, an attempt is made, generally farly successfully, not to back England openly. TMS has, with occasional slips, specialised in this over the years (the word "We" is banned in commentary that attempts to be neutral). This means that sometimes reporting is not as enthusiastic as a red-blooded unconditional fan might like. However, as I have seen rather a lot, OB and his colleagues frequently get accused by opposition fans of writing with a Union Flag keyboard and often get called some pretty rude names. In other words, they are upsetting both sides, which means that the balance is probably about right if you want a neutral view (another issue is whether the BRITISH Broadcasting Corporation should not try to promote a pro-British image [how many foreigners pay the licence fee??], but that's another can of worms).

    On umpiring, fair enough. It's been poor. Sometimes its been awful. And Bangladesh has had some rough stuff, but maybe sometimes too much effort is made to be politically correct because my impression is that the rough decisions have been more 60-40 against Bangladesh rather than 90-10. The problem is that we don't tend to remember the ones that went Bangladesh's way and they certainly don't! It's only human nature.

    I believe that even if the decisions HAD gone Bangladesh's way they would still have lost. The reason is that it is very tough for a side that is used to seeing how promising positions evaporate to get over the finishing line (remember that Test against Pakistan when the last pair put on 70-odd to win a match that Bangladesh had 99.99% sown up??) Something will always turn up to tip the balance back. And, we saw today how the Bangladesh players had so little experience of playing over 5 days that the effort of two back-to-back Tests going into the fifth day just left them too exhausted to put up any kind of defence of a target well beyond what Oliver had felt would be a difficult one just 24 hours before.

    Oliver's answer in 49 is perhaps unnecessarily sharp. The bookies at no stage had England much longer odds than evens to win. Bookies rarely throw their money away because they know which way the wind blows and it was a fair bet that the situation would escape Bangladesh's control: a number of us posted at the time that we expected England to post around 500 still and we were right. Yes, the umpires played their part, but suppose the first decision had gone Bangladesh's way, can you really say that they would not have let the position slip some other way (hint: look at the scorecards of some of their matches over the last 3 years... even when they have scored 400+ and gained a first innings lead they have almost always lost - the only exception being against mighty Zimbabwe).

    On dead pitches Bangladesh showed enough to suggest that they will at least start to draw home Tests regularly [note: the comparison with New Zealand's 50% draw record over their first 47 years is specious because many of those Tests were played over only 3 days, which made getting the draw a whole lot easier]. Credit to Bangladesh for playing much harder than many expected. The team is developing and let's not patronise them quite so much, especially playing at home.

    England were adequate, not brilliant. They played to their strength: use street smarts and grind Bangladesh down. As was pointed out at the time, having a swing for glory and being all out for 300 on Day 3 was a pretty surefire way to lose. It wasn't glamorous, but it worked and we saw a few bowlers working very hard for their wickets. The experience will have done Bresnan, Broad, Finn, Swann and Tredwell a world of good. Again, look at the results. Swann took as many wickets as the top two Bangladesh wicket-takers combined and Bresnan, Broad and Tredwell all took at least as many wickets each as the whole of the rest of the Bangladesh attack combined.

    Before the tour there were plenty offering the opinion that England would lose the Test series due to the absence of Anderson and, particularly, Strauss. Through the 2nd Test there were plenty who thought that it was a nailed-down draw. Both opinions turned out to be wrong. We knew before this series that England would be damned if the won and damned even more if the didn't. That prediction, at least, was correct.

    So, overall: Mission Accomplished.

    In 2003 the tour stood us in good stead, helping to build the all-conquering side of 2004-05. We've had a decent last 9 months. There is, at least, something to build on for the next 12 months and this series will have helped.

  • Comment number 54.

    "I merely indicated one occasion when I believe an England win was very much in doubt. Is that so hard to grasp?"

    At one point the win was in doubt is not the same as saying they struggled to win. Any reason why "after a poor start, England put together an unspectacular but thoroughly professional performance to regain control of the match before going on to achieve a comfortable victory" is not the correct description?

    "I assume you misunderstood me. The runs added by Bresnan and Prior were AFTER each should have been given out by two Antipodean umpires who were villified in the local press the next day. All the England cheerleaders on this blog appear to have conveniently ignored this fact..."

    Not ignored - rightly dismissed as irrelevant. Nobody ever lost a cricket match because a batsman was incorrectly given not out, for one very simple reason - a not out decision does not affect the state of the match or hand anyone an unfair advantage. After the decision the same number of runs and the same number of wickets are on the board as before and the bowler has it within his power to make the error irrelevant with the next delivery. That happened to Broad yesterday and he did precisely that.

    On the other hand, a mistake that results in someone being given out who shouldn't have been (as, for example, happened to Jonathan Trott in both matches)does change the state of play, as the batsman can play no further part in the innings, and does give one side an advantage that was not earned. That would be true whoever was on the receiving end, is why the batsman must always be given the benefit of any doubt in the umpire's mind and why questions of what might have happened if, say, Prior had been given out may be interesting speculation, but are not a factor in deciding either the result of the game or the quality of either England or Bangladesh's performance in it.

  • Comment number 55.

    Since when was winning by 9 wickets or winning by 180 runs anything but comfortable? It doesn't matter how many days you take, England won comfortably twice. Against a good batting line up, on flat pitches. Stop being so critical!

  • Comment number 56.

    What Stargazer said.

  • Comment number 57.

    i think that we should do this at Lords vs Bangladesh:

    Cook
    Straus
    Pietersen
    Trott
    Bell/Collingwood
    KIESWETTER (any views?)
    Bresnan
    Broad
    Swann
    Anderson
    Finn

    anyone?

  • Comment number 58.

    I think, Oliver, you might have to accept that you were a little over the top in your summary,or at best, misunderstood.

    I think the efficiency with which England won these matches was an excellent example of doing the job that was required. It does matter that they had an inexperienced team, cos it would have been an example to them about how to win test match cricket and what is required of them. Particularly for the debutant bowlers, they had to work hard, be patient and think carefully about their cricket-there weren't any freebies out there on those kinds of wickets.

    No matter what you say about the England cricket team, I've always thought that they approach every Test match the same, in terms of professionalism. And so even though they will have the occasional collapse and fit of nerves, the attitude is always the same, and so with that approach they will always beat lesser teams like Bangladesh, and that should be applauded.

  • Comment number 59.

    As always when it comes to England'success so grudging in victory yet so damming in failure, so circumspect in the avoidance of duly celebratory language for fear of bolstering national spirit.

  • Comment number 60.

    I think you are being a bit overly critical here Oliver. The pitches were ridiculous and certainly tailored for Bangladesh to scrape a draw: 209-1 should never be a winning score in the 4th innings. I think the bowlers (and remember this was a weakened attack) did a good job on completely lifeless pitches.

  • Comment number 61.

    Oliver,
    You seem very defensive in your comments about comments(!!) on this blog. Perhaps you are surprised at the level of support that the England team have and are not the easy targets that you were looking for. Umpiring errors always help yes. Sadly that is a feature of the game. Perhaps the ICC should pay for all the whistles and bells in every TEST series (20/20 they could just toss a coin, much more entertaining). The blog had a good second half but please remember that others have the right to criticise your opinion, in a constructive manner, ABD they don't get paid for it.
    Good blog (7/10) followed by toys out of the pram. Disappointed

  • Comment number 62.

    Oliver,

    You make fair points, positive and negative about the tour. I think most folks are just disagreeing with your vies that England stuggled to get over the winning line. the only time we were in trouble was at 100-3 in the second test and we went on to get the benefit of a few umpiring decisions but I think you are missing a few key points.

    Firstly, from that position, England did score 500. OK we had a couple of umpiring decisions go our way, but the important thing is to capitalise on these (and Bresnan and Prior did. When Rahim was reprieved against Broad he was out the very next ball.

    Also, its always easier to focus on umpiring decisions which went against the losing team. England got a few dodgy ones (notably Trott twice in the series) as well but because they won so convincingly nobody cared much. Indeed this may be a difference betwee the sides, with the more experienced side able to put such things out of their mind easier.

    Second, Bangladesh rode their luck significantly in their first innings of the second test, Tamim was dropped twice before he got a bad decision in the first innings and once in the second, along with a couple of edges that didn't go to hand and any number of slogs (controlled aggressive?) shots by the Bangladeshi batsmen could have gone to hand.

    Thirdly, I don't think that anybody on here is saying that the win was perfect. Yes there are a few things to work on (Why didn't we go for two spinners in the first test? Are the seamers going to be good enough in Australia? Is Cook the right man for the captaincy long term, or should Strauss be injured?) but there always are. England had perhaps one or two bad sessions in the series, when injudicious shot selection (not great bowling) reduced us to 107-3 which we recovered from thanks in large part to a great knock from Bell. they should be praised for overcoming that hiccup, rather than criticised for 'struggling to get past the winning post'.

  • Comment number 63.

    "We struggled to win this when we were 107-3 replying to 419, with only the wicketkeeper and our five bowlers padded up, that's when. "

    As others have pointed out you have extrapolated from brief difficulty to 'struggled to win'. Even if you accept that argument then your original statement "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." doesn't stack up as Bangladesh do have good periods at home against big sides, just as they did against England.

    IIRC South Africa, India and Australia 'struggled to win', in the same way that England did (ie had brief sticky patches before winning comfortably) when playing in Bangladesh.

    It is good that Bangladesh can put together periods of resistance during Test series, but they need to be able to string them together if they are really going to make someone struggle.

  • Comment number 64.

    Oliver,

    I have to agree with many of the previous comments, we didn't struggle to win anymore than I assumed we would on incredibly flat tracks with a thin bowling attack.

    The Bangladesh batting is probably as strong as New Zealand and our batters did what they needed to do with Cook leading aggresively from the front which was very encouraging to see. Anderson and Strauss returning will put some steel and class back into the side and all looks pretty good for the summer ahead.

    Rashid isn't ready and he must have a full season in county cricket and a winter playing some club cricket,we can look at him again next year. Finn looked good and deserves a start this summer on better pitches but the pace bowling does look a little thin and short of support which is a concern before an Ashes series.

    Broad remains inconsistent and has a test bowling average in the 30's but still he's first choice because what's the alternative? That must be a worry for Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss.

    There's plenty of competition in the batting and although the individuals don't perhaps get the selfish weight of runs as some of the players from other country's as a unit I think it's as tough as any other nation.

    Room must be made soon for Morgan and Keiswetter even if it's at the expense of Trott and Prior but for now my XI for the first test this summer would be:

    Strauss
    Cook
    Bell
    Pietersen
    Collingwood
    Prior
    Bresnan
    Swann
    Broad
    Anderson
    Finn
    12th Man Trott

  • Comment number 65.

    I have to come back in here, having defended Oliver's fairly balanced article. Your later comments are far less balanced, perhaps in an attempt to counteract the inane optimism of many posts. More likely because you've lost your temper.

    For example:
    "We struggled to win this when we were 107-3 replying to 419, with only the wicketkeeper and our five bowlers padded up, that's when."

    That's a ludicrous bit of spin, and you know it. You mean we only had Matt Prior, Tim Bresnan, Graeme Swann, Stuart Broad and James Tredwell still in the hutch? These men have 27 first class centuries between them, and well over 100 50s. Prior's Test average compares favourably with Graham Gooch! Are you seriously suggesting that with three wickets down, Bangladesh had exposed our tail?

    Likewise, it is absurd to discount Prior and Bresnan's efforts because they got a favourable decision early on. They still had to score those runs: they could have got out next ball, the reprieve counting for nothing. Re-read post #43, and you'll find that it is you who have (wilfully?) misunderstood. As many have pointed out, errors in the Tigers' favour were not so well-publicised simply because they then failed to capitalise on them.

    Your article is reasonable, though perhaps you could at least have mentioned the utterly lifeless tracks that would fail to yield a result between any of the better Test-playing nations. Please, therefore, resist the temptation to rise to the bait when dimwits attack your views. It demeans you, and goes some way to proving the dimwits right.

  • Comment number 66.

    I agree entirely with Miket's team for the first test, other than I would leave Bell at number 5. When Onions is fit he will probably replace Finn too. I was watching the highlights last night and it was said that Bresnan is not a test no.7, despite his 91. This is probably true but having three batsmen at 7,8 and 9 who will average around 25 over their careers achieves the same as having a 7,8 and 9 who average 40, 20 and 15, which would be considered strong. Obviously if Bresnan plays England also get the additional benefit of 5 bowlers.

  • Comment number 67.

    The number of postings who keep harping on about England playing a weakened team should face facts,
    Did England miss the extra runs Strauss MIGHT have provided? - NO. Would he have positioned a fielder at thirdman? - With his track record, probably not.
    Would Anderson, Onions or Sidebottom been more effective at taking wickets on these hard clay slow pitches, than Bresnan and Finn? maybe, but would they have taken them any quicker or more cheaply? - UNLIKELY.

    The claim that Bangladesh is an improving side is repeated time and time again. Against what benchmark is this claim being judged? If you take them away from these pitches to a different environment, I suspect any improvement would be marginal at best.
    Their slow bowlers can't turn the ball and their seamers are way short of international standard. Of the 24 wickets they took in both games 90% were through batsman error rather than good wicket taking deliveries.

    The claim that they were hard done by the Umpiring decisions, is not borne out by the facts. The inside edge onto pad by Bresnan, was hardly discernable on the super slowmo, so how can the Umpire standing 22 yards away give it out?

    Hawkeye showed that the the deliveries claiming LBW, were hitting the leg stump. Considering that two of these shouts were from left arm bowlers, bowling round the wicket and pitching on middle and leg, by slow bowlers who rarely got the ball to straighten, the umpires decisions were perfectly reasonable. The third LBW shout was from a seamer who was bowling straight with significant reverse swing, again the decision that the ball would miss leg was a reasonable one.
    This growing belief that hawkeye knows best is a worry. Until some truly independent study shows it has the accuracy claimed, I for one will remain a sceptic.

    What have England learned for this tour? They have learned that Carberry cannot play slow bowling on these pitches and that Trott needs to add a paddle sweep to his game. Finn is promising and Bresnan is a dour performer worthy of consideration for greater tests.

    Above all and perhaps the most important event, is the change in technique Pietersen has finally made. Instead of moving outside off and playing almost every delivery to leg, he now remains still and plays with a straight bat, driving down the ground or, through the off side.
    If these changes become permanent, we could see a Pietersen that is better than he has ever been.

  • Comment number 68.

    Oliver Brett has a very confrontational style for a BBC Blogger! I like it.

  • Comment number 69.

    Far too negative, Brett. England beat the team that was put infront of them - end of story.
    I think i'm right in saying that England are the only recognised test nation yet to lose to Bangladesh. If that is the case then you negativity is baffling. It's the same in football - when the national team is up against a supposed weaker team then they're on a hiding to nothing and get no credit from the likes of you, so shame on you. Judge England by how they do against the best in the world, and for now congratulate them on winning, again. I couldn't care less who played, we won.

  • Comment number 70.

    For what it's worth, I feel that Oliver's view was fairly balanced, praising strong batting performances whilst pointing out the few weaknesses that were apparent, such as the lack of spin options and the lack of a Third Man which allowed the Bangladesh tail-enders to score freely to that area.

  • Comment number 71.

    Making 209-1 in our fourth innings leaves me in no doubt whatsoever that we would have surpassed any score set by Bangladesh, even without Bresnan or Prior's contributions in the first innings. Bangladesh were unfortunate not to get some umpiring decisions but I think if you ask Johnathan Trott he'd be pretty disappointed too.

    Whilst it might be nice to bowl teams out for 50 every innings and set various world records while batting this is reality, and the reality is England did the job they had to do in very difficult conditions.

  • Comment number 72.

    Poor old OB. Perhaps another realisation for you that you're no good at blogging and journalism (the term used loosely)either. England won 2-0. Be glad of that.

  • Comment number 73.

    Oliver,

    Two quotes to refer to:

    "We struggled to win this when we were 107-3 replying to 419, with only the wicketkeeper and our five bowlers padded up, that's when. And I'll tell you something else, but for a series of umpiring errors going our way in our first innings - Bresnan adding about 90 runs to his score and Prior 60 - we would have almost certainly trailed heavily and been under significant pressure in the second half of the match."

    "The thing is, Andy, I was specifically asked by someone "Where and when did we struggle to win this [second Test]? The result was never in doubt?"


    You aren't struggling to win at 107 for 3. You're batting poorly, not struggling to win. Nobody would say that Bangladesh in the first innings were cruising to victory when all out for 419 now as there were still three innings to go. Likewise, you can't be struggling to win at 107 for 3 with over two and a half innings left to go. I'll add it to the current list of dreadful sporting English that goes around, currently headed by the grotesque phrase "It's a big ask".


    As for the umpiring, so bloomin' what? As I said earlier, do you sit at home and complain about the 2005 Ashes as Kasprowicz was given out incorrectly? Get over it. We got some luck with the decisions and knuckled down to the task in hand. In cricket, sometimes you need luck. One BC Lara getting dropped early doors and then continuing to 500 comes to mind. It's certainly a first for an England journalist to moan about umpiring decisions that went in favour of his team. I know Essex posted a big financial loss recently but cheer up, old stick.

    The Bangladeshis lost this game themselves with some right numbskull batting second time around, thus proving again that they have some great players of potential who still haven't been able to translate that talents over all five days of a Test match. They are getting better and I really enjoyed the series. I do think the tour of England will be a very stern test for them. Wet wickets, colder weather, and their seam attack looks less than threatening.

  • Comment number 74.

    Sorry Oliver, your responses just look defensive to me. As stated in post 73 and others, 107 for 3 is not dire trouble as you imply. 107 for 6 might be. But at 107 for 3 we had every chance of getting a lead. Furthermore, as TomTyke said, 209-1 in the second innings showed that we won easily in the end. YOu are usually going to have the odd swing of momentum but 107-3 defending 419 did not put them totally in control, especially as it was the first innings.

    Winnng the tests by 181 runs then 9 wickets is basically not much short of a hiding whichever way you look at it

    Don't make me laugh about umpiring decisions either. I reckon 80-90% of matches have some controversial or incorrect decisions. You win some you lose some. Even with the referral system it is still flawed. To mention this as a factor in the outcome is absurd. Anyone who knows anything about cricket - especially a journalist - should know that these things happen and you deal with them. If you are given not out, you are not out. End of story. Its like a golfer blaming bad luck for losing - 99% of them don't do it.

    If we had lost due to some dodgy decisions, would you have blamed that for our defeat? I doubt it. You should know better Oliver! Shame on you again!

    I live in South Africa these days and I can tell you that no journalist worth his salt here would be so negative had their team performed like we did. We won and we won well. We should be celebrating that first, and only then constructively make mention of the areas in which we can improved.

    You say in your bio "After the solemn realisation at the age of 12 that I might not be good enough to play cricket for England". Would it be too harsh to suggest that you have another 'solemn realisation' now about cricket blogs?

  • Comment number 75.

    Oliver, may I ask what gives you the right to criticise a captain's tactics? I only ask since an Ashes-inning captain is reported to be vociferously praising his efforts on these very pages today. Have you ever captained a team? Any team? Thanks.

  • Comment number 76.

    Good series win in my book.

    Blooded Finn who should be a regular in years to come and Bresnan led the attack well, a la Hoggy and Fred in India when they came of age.

    One negative for me was a wasted opportunity to debut Adil Rashid. Tredwell is steady but Rashid is a better bat, much younger and a leggie so likely to be more of a threat on all pitchs.

    Bell growing in stature, KP back in the runs, great learning experiance from Cookie (who also batted very well) and good practice of Asian conditions and batting long against spin.

    Happy with it

  • Comment number 77.

    The BBC what a misery you all are. The glass is more than half full and to the BBC it is a complete disaster. Why does the BBC hate England and Wales cricket doing well?
    I have tried watching the IPL on ITV now that is not good cricket more like baseball. The bits I have seen anyway.

  • Comment number 78.

    2 teams on the up. Think we will see how far Bangladesh have come when they play the reverse series over here this coming summer.
    Very competent performance. Won all the big moments. Good article.

  • Comment number 79.

    IPL .... Tacky 20-over slogfest format, canon-fodder bowling, ad-breaks aplenty - perfect for the television paymasters.

    Back to the Test series: empty stadiums, hopelessly slow pitches, turgid cricket at times - but an enjoyable TMS listen all the same. Dominic Cork and Mark Butcher are very welcome commentary additions, excellent contributions from Shamin Chowdhury and Athar Ali Khan. Highlight was Iqbal's incredible first morning batting onslaught at the second test. I hope the culturally vibrant and hospitable Bangladeshi's discover some good bowlers and continue to progress as a Test-match nation.

  • Comment number 80.

    I think you forgot to mention that, as a Test captain, Cook now has a 100% losing record.

    He couldn't even manage to tie any of them.

  • Comment number 81.

    Woops! in post #80 I meant to say "100% record of losing the toss"

  • Comment number 82.

    This has been a thoroughly good blog and have enjoyed reading it and agree with a lot of the posts. OB if your original blog was to get reactions, it seems to have worked!

    One of my biggest hates is when someone asks about a cricket game, "Who is winning?" There is never a point in any game as to a team winning (unless it becomes mathematically impossible - but a bowler could get the yips and continue toi bowl wides - could happen). At 107-3 in the 1st innings you are not struggling to win the game, you've just had 3 blokes who got out. With your keeper and 5 bowlers left to come - Tim on #65 good knowledge of the first class 100's - If you are worried about playing only 4 bowlers rather than the more attacking 5. You want to be sure your keeper and the 5 bowlers know what to do. Which we did. And so did they.

    Cricket is a game that throws up some uncertainty where you could pick someone off the street can get your best player out 1st ball. Thats the beauty of the game. It throws this sort of stuff up every now and again.

    As to the 3rd man thing - stick someone down there. Nothing is more annoying than watching batsman get easy runs - normally when its a moral victory for the bowler.

    5-0 job done

  • Comment number 83.

    "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."

    India didn't exactly have an easy time of it here: http://www.cricinfo.com/bdeshvind2010/engine/match/434256.html .

    Sri Lanka were never struggling in this game, but they still got bowled out for under 300 in the first innings and conceded over 400 in the second: http://www.cricinfo.com/bdeshvsl/engine/match/378750.html

    And as Andy mentioned back in post 22, Australia had a game back in 05/06 where they had to fight tooth and nail to win: http://www.cricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/238171.html

    Okay, England had a fair few tricky moments against Bangladesh, but they're hardly alone.

  • Comment number 84.

    Sir Paul,

    As I pointed out, Bangladesh have made 400+ on first innings against all the top sides against Pakistan and South Africa. Against Pakistan their best is 361 and it almost won them the game. Only against South Africa have they never yet made a substantial first innings score. I'll bet that not too many people would imagine that the Australians of the Warne/McGrath era shipped 400+ against Bangladesh and even conceded a first innings lead!

  • Comment number 85.

    Sorry "except against"...

  • Comment number 86.

    Re 22. AndyPlowright

    A really good, well thought out post.

    However, you have to select Onions ahead of Finn, and probably ahead of Bresnan. I agree Sidebottom should be discarded.

    Personally, and I appreciate this would be controversial, I would not even consider dropping Jonathan Trott. I think it is fantastic we have a batsman who can come in at number 3 and score ugly runs and anchors the innings. If it's OK for India with Dravid, to have a batsman who often scores at a strike rate of 40 while others make shots around him, it's fine by me.

  • Comment number 87.

    I think England should be pleased with a comprehensive 5 - 0 win.
    Bangladesh is a young and talented team.

    England should go back to four bowlers in May.
    So this is my team for the first test:

    Strauss
    Cook
    Pietersen
    Trott
    Collingwood
    Bell
    Prior
    Bresnan
    Swann
    Broad
    Anderson

    I know Bell might not like six but if he's going to be in the team, I don't see Trott or Pietersen dropping down the order.

    I also think we need our Mr Slow or our nudger J.Trott at four so we can have three fluent run scorers Strauss, Cook and KP as our top three and have JT as a reliable four. Bresnan is in as he was our best quickie out there, and with Onions still injured and doubtful it would be touch-and-go between Onions and Bresnan.

    Finn: Not good enough to stay ahead Bresnan or Anderson.
    Tredwell: We only need one spinner in England, so Swanny wins.

    Congratulations to England on a highly successful tour.

  • Comment number 88.

    Josart, against Bangladesh in May and June we probably don't even need one spinner! However, I can't see Graeme Swann being dropped and he will ensure that there is at least some variation in the attack. Certainly, we won't need 5 bowlers against Bangladesh, but Pakistan in August may be a different matter.

    Right now, the side for the 1st Test v Pakistan almost picks itself. Players like Shah, Plunkett, Harmison, Bopara and Wright have fallen by the wayside and would only be re-comissioned in a real injury crisis. Finn is not quite ready, but a strong start to the season for Middlesex could put into the frame: however, if Middlesex do field an attack of O'Brien, Ntini, Murtagh and Udal, Finn may not find it easy even to guarantee a consistent place in their starting XI.

    What worries me a bit here is that Onions' injury looks quite serious and we don't know how long Anderson's dodgy knee will hold out. With Andrew Flintoff now retired, it means that three members of the attack from last summer are either unavailable or potentially unavailable. Stuart Broad needs to be aggresive, but not too aggresive because he loses focus and effectivity when he aims at the batsman and not the stumps.

    Inevitably, there will be calls for Eoin Morgan to be called up, but he had a lousy season in 2009, with a single not out century contributing more than a quarter of all his runs and helping lift his average to 24.

    The best batting balance tends to be between solidity and attack: the batting needs to be a mix of blockers and stroke-players. Most of the top six though are more known for their roles in "The Long Trek" than in "Blazing Saddles". Cook may have re-invented himself as an attacking batsman against Bangladesh, but I really wonder if he would do the same against Australia in Perth. The side needs solidity from Cook, Trott, Bell and Collingwood and some sensible agression from Strauss and Pietersen, with Prior injecting urgency at 7. Maybe though we are one aggresive batsman short in the top 6.

    The side in progressing. 7 wins and only two defeats, with three series won and one shared in the last 12 months is a pretty decent record. It's better than South Africa's and arguably better than India's (although mainly because the latter has lost interest in playing Tests).

    The summer starts with an easy series against Bangladesh, passes to a potentially much harder one against Pakistan and then it's off to Australia for the hardest series of all. As the Tests get harder, that's when we'll see how good the side really is.

  • Comment number 89.

    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.
    --------

    Caution? Was it really caution?

    Or was it (far more likely in my opinion) just the best way to get all the players on the field who they wanted to either gain experience or regain form.

    Cook was trialled as captain, Carberry given a chance to stake his claim, Trott the chance to build on a decent start to his career, KP to regain form, Bell to try and finally convice he is worth a regular spot (and as a fair measure against Carberry and Trott, as surely it will be 1 or 2 from that three once Strauss returns) and Collinwood was the old anvil in case of a collapse and a very decent utility bowler.

    Indeed I put it to you all that the point of this lineup was indeed to accomplish the goal of measuring these players performance and had nothing to do with any fear of Bangladesh at all.

    The tour achieved it's goals by and large.

    Cook proved he is capable enough as a stand in captain, especially as I would expect him to get more support from experienced players if it was a more pressing environment, Collinwood especially probbaly held back from offering much so a to not get in the way of the experience.

    Carberry looks reasonable enough and was unlucky to be the man to miss out in the second test (and only did so because they wanted to play 2 spinners without losing a seamer, the most negative decision of the tour for me).

    Trott looked alright and will be more settld with each tour at 3.

    KP looked much better ending than starting the tour.

    Bell proved himself worth his place ahead of Carberry at the moment when we do play with 4 bowlers and first stand-in otherwise.

    In terms of bowling Treadwell looks a reasonable enough backup to Swann, thogh I don't think playing them in tandem will do against the best teams, too similar. Leaving Rashid behind was the right option, if he isn't going to play then he should stay and work on his game, he is young and will improve over the next few years with the right guidance and attitude, his time will come, albeit probably not until after the Ashes.

    Bresnan has improved and looks a decent backup to Anderson, Broad and Onions, probably just edging ahead of Sidebottom for me as he is only likely to get better wheras Sidey is clerly heading the othr way. A bowling attack of Swann, Bresnan, Broad, Anderson and Onions looks pretty darn solid if you ask me and with Prior/Kieswetter as keeper there is more than enough batting in that lineup to play all five alongside Strauss, Cook, KP, Collinwood and either Trott or Bell.

  • Comment number 90.

    England won the series 2-0 which is the best they can do. The batsman played well and did a decent job, with particuliar highlights of the two innings of cook and Pietersen and also bell and collingwoods century, but the real positive was the bowlers who came in with Anderson and Onions missing. I thought Bresnan and Tredwell bowled really well and like Swann and Broad have done in the past helped out with very useful runs when batting. So overall a good tour for England both series won with whitewashes. As the saying goes you can only beat whats in front of you. Well done England.
    And by the way I haven't even mentioned the exploits of Morgan and Kieswetter in the ODI series, well I have now. Roll on the T20 World Cup.

 

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