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Postcard from Dhaka

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Adam Mountford | 11:29 UK time, Thursday, 25 February 2010

Dhaka is known as the "Rickshaw Capital of the World" with reportedly over 400,000 of the famous two wheeled carts making slow progress along the cities roads every day.

I say slow progress because so far the horrendous traffic here in the capital of Bangladesh is the only negative side of what has so far been an enjoyable start to this tour.

Dhaka is one of the densest populated cities on the planet with they say more than 40,000 people for every square kilometre, that is more than ten times the figure for London. And it can sometimes seem that virtually every one of those people here has some sort of vehicle out on the road at any one time.

But the secret, as I discovered on the first morning of the opening match of the tour, is to get to the roads early. I had been warned to allow up to two hours for the relatively short trip to Fatullah on the outskirts of Dhaka, so I arranged to leave my hotel at 6am so that I made the 9am start in good time. Needless to say, I actually arrived at the ground at 6.25am!

You are never quite sure what to expect when you turn up to a new ground for the match of a tour, so I was a little nervous when I arrived at the Narayangonj Osmani Stadium. At first, I wasn't sure I was in the right place as initially there was no sign of players, officials or anything resembling a crowd. But I was then strangely reassured to see a large bus pull up next to me full of soldiers and security men. Unfortunately, in the current climate this is an obvious sign that you have arrived at a international sporting event.

As I got out of the car, I was met by an official from the Bangladesh Cricket Board who announced that he was waiting to personally escort me to a commentary box. After a brief tour of the facilties he introduced me to one of his colleagues, Alam, who he informed me was to be my "BBC helper" for the day. Alam is a local cricketer who had been employed to provide any assistance I needed throughout the game.

While the broadcast lines were being fitted in the morning, Alam helped me find a suitable roof where I could set up the small satellite dish I was using to make contact with 5 live to bring early news on the game. The roof I found was also being used as a security base - and it was more than a little intimidating trying to describe Craig Kieswetter's fantastic batting surrounded by 15 soldiers all armed with large rifles.

Craig Kieswetter enjoys a ride in a rickshaw
England's Craig Kieswetter enjoys a trip in one of Dhaka's many rickshaws

Disturbingly, one of the soldiers seemed to be taking extra interest in what I was saying and was getting more and more anxious as my report went on. As I finished he came over and I feared what might happen next. He then put his hand in his pocket to pull something out - but it turned out he had a small portable radio with him which, he showed me, he had tuned to the BBC World Service. The reason he was looking anxious was that I think he was expecting the report I was doing to be going out live on his radio. I'm not sure he understood my explanation of the different kind of BBC outlets, but he seemed happy enough and bid me farewell with the words "I see you for the next bulletin."

The opening warm-up game was an enjoyable affair thanks especially to the fantastic hitting of Kieswetter. There may be some debate about another South African-born player in the England set-up but he seems a impressive young man and potentially quite a player. The last few days have not been such a good experience for another South African-born batsman, Kevin Pietersen and he will be pleased to see the back of fast bowler Alauddin Babu who conjured up a genie from the lamp to dismiss him twice in two days for a total of six runs.

However, after his impressive batting in Dubai, there is no doubt about Pietersen's place - but there'll be plenty for England's selectors to ponder ahead of the one-day series. Matt Prior, despite being bizarrely reprieved when the umpire called a dead ball because of music playing in the ground, probably did enough to retain his place with an unbeaten 64 in the second game. Ryan Sidebottom looked fit and bowled with trademark aggression - but who will join him in the bowling attack with Shahzad, Plunkett and Tredwell all putting up good cases to join probably Broad and Bresnan.

Well, you won't have long to find out what England do because after the warm-up games the action starts in earnest on Sunday morning with the first one-day international.

I'm delighted to confirm that Test Match Special will have ball-by-ball commentary on the whole of the tour which consists of three ODI's and two Test matches on BBC 5 live sports extra and BBC Radio 4 Long Wave.

Leading our team will be Simon Mann, who is making his third visit to Bangladesh. He will be joined by "The Analyst" Simon Hughes who will be returning to the TMS commentary box following spells with us in Sri Lanka and India and during last summer's ICC World Twenty20. We will also be joined by top Bangladesh cricket commentator Shamim Chowdhury. Providing expert analysis will be the former England all-rounder Dominic Cork, Mark Butcher, who was part of the England side which last toured Bangladesh in 2003, and former Bangladesh player Athar Ali Khan.

There will be regular updates on BBC Radio 5 live throughout the tour - plus, here at , as well as the text commentary there will be Test Match Special podcasts and blogs. Also, keep checking the TMS Flickr page for photographs from behind the scenes.

So join us on Sunday morning from 0745 GMT on BBC 5 live sports extra and the BBC Sport website, and from 0800 on BBC Radio 4 Long Wave.


  • Comment number 1.

    Pleased to see Craig Kieswetter doing well as a Somerset fan. And I have to say how impressed I always am by the BBC finding local nationals to commentate alongside the BBC staff, whatever country we're playing in.

  • Comment number 2.

    On current form the question would appear to be who is the better outfield player Prior or Kieswetter? As they could potentially take KP's place as a batsman. In reality this maybe a tour where KP is allowed to rehabilitate whatever the quality of his performances.

    Nice to have a bit of Bangladesh background not every test ground has been seralised by the sponsor needs and H&S policies.

  • Comment number 3.

    On current form the question would appear to be who is the better outfield player Prior or Kieswetter? As they could potentially take KP's place as a batsman. In reality this maybe a tour where KP is allowed to rehabilitate whatever the quality of his performances.

    On current form, Kieswetter has played only against A level bowling and a friendly against an England team playing their first match of a tour. Perhaps he deserves a chance yes, but dropping KP would pikle huge pressure on Kieswetter AND Prior that they just don't need right now. I'd rather see someone like Collinwood rested

  • Comment number 4.

    Whilst you were at the ground why didnt you find time to send regular info on the game so the BBC cricket page could keep us informed on the state of the game?
    Hiding behind the Associated press is not good enough.

  • Comment number 5.

    hackerjack - I think that KP will be given a run through this whole series and is too big to drop. Other batsmen may have to be looking over their shoulders in terms of ODI & 20/20. Glad to see they took Kieswetter to Bangladesh after all.

    The problem for England is that the fixtures they have before the WC20/20 and the Ashes next winter present problems for the selectors. As neither two series against Bangladesh and a series against Pakistan would be an adequate benchmark for the trials to come.

    The pressure to perform will need to come from within me thinks.

  • Comment number 6.

    when the question arise that who is better Prior or Kieswetter? I would have to say that Prior is the best bet he is aggressive and muture enough to take KP place in the team....

  • Comment number 7.

    I'm pleased to hear TMS will be covering this tour.

    Quite a good team assembled always good to hear Simon Mann and Simon Hughes. I was hoping that maybe Kevin Howells might have made his test commentary debut.

    Really pleased that Dominic Cork will be on the tour, I think he is a cracking summeriser so it will be nice to hear him for an extended run. Shame that one of the other regulars the likes of Graham Gooch or Alec Stewart isn't on though.

  • Comment number 8.

    i see the bbc's chief cricket correspondent and vic marks are pulling a straussy,jaded are they? or does this indicate what the bbc think about the importance of this tour!
    i will be tuning in regardless and expecting some big runs,if jason gillespie can get a double hundred here,then swann or broad could bag one too.
    keep up the good work adam,and post some more of the snippets of what everyday living out there is like.most interesting.

  • Comment number 9.

    KP has stood out as England's best player for 2 years, so any talk of dropping him seems harsh.

    Bangladesh are underrated, they have beaten Australia before which takes some doing.

  • Comment number 10.

    "There may be some debate about another South African born player in the England set up"

    You can be sure there is; I would rather see an England team of English born players or players of English parentage and see them lose than watch a multi-national team maquarading as "England"

  • Comment number 11.

    I had the opportunity to discuss the Kieswetter case, from a South African perspective, over lunch one day at the Newlands Test match with the former Proteas vice-captain Craig Matthews who was then a South African selector. He told me that a firm approach was made by Cricket South Africa last year to Kieswetter to try and persuade him to choose the country of his birth and nationality rather than England – especially as Mark Boucher is reaching the end of his career and an opening is around the corner. But the young keeper has plumped for England and there is no doubt that one of the reasons is Cricket South Africa’s affirmative action policy. As Matthews put it if a decent non-white wicket-keeper emerges on the scene he would almost certainly get the nod ahead of Kieswetter. South Africa’s rule is that there must be at least four non-whites in every Proteas team. Matthews supports this affirmative action policy and thinks it is all too easy to blame this policy for the loss of cricketers like Pietersen and Trott to England. I agree with him and whilst there is an inevitable distortion to free selection consequent on the policy it is certain that without it fine players like Amla, Duminy and Prince might have struggled to get their chances. But as there is only one wicket-keeper in any side you can see why Kieswetter would rather take his chances in England - and who would blame him?

  • Comment number 12.

    I think theres a big danger to the long term health of English cricket and the sheer fun of being an English cricket fan with the increasing numbers of South African players. All are or potentially great players but the simple fact is we all know they are South African not English. The ECB needs to act but I'm sure is too short sighted and money driven to change anything. Its lready effecting my enjoyemnt and another will make it worse whether they help us win or not. Can you imagine the Aussies doing the same, no way, would have more patroticsm and self belief.

  • Comment number 13.

    10. At 12:03pm on 27 Feb 2010, greensward wrote:

    You can be sure there is; I would rather see an England team of English born players or players of English parentage and see them lose than watch a multi-national team maquarading as "England"


    Doesn't Craig Kieswetter have British parentage at least on one side? To me that makes it a little different than the Trott/KP debate.

  • Comment number 14.

    Craig Kieswetter has had British nationality since birth, his childhood was split between the UK and SA, he went to school in England, where he was spotted by Somerset, and he has played all of his adult and first class cricket in Somerset. He is, at the very least, as British as he is South African.

    So why all this harping on about where he was born? Derek Pringle was born in Kenya. John McEnroe was born in Germany. That doesn't preclude them from being English and Amercian respectively.

  • Comment number 15.

    I for one have finally got tired of non-English born players playing for our country and will cease supporting the side. His mother is Scottish, his father is South African & he played for SA under-19's - a passport or eligibility rules do not make you English.

  • Comment number 16.

    There was no firm offer made to Craig Kieswetter.

  • Comment number 17.

    The main concern about this is why British born players aren't good enough to make the team.

  • Comment number 18.

    I assume nobody from the TMS team will be criticising the absence of Strauss on the tour.

    People in glass houses and all that!

  • Comment number 19.

    I think kieswetter has a much better claim to play for England than Trott and Pietersen so it's a bit unfair on him if people are 'finally getting tired or sick of non-British born players yadda yadda yadda'. The main problem -lest we forget- is that cricket isn't played in state schools in this country so there isn't a big enough 'native' talent pool - thus we have to make do with imports. In the 80s and 90s we had caribbean imports in addition to South Africans unable to play from isolation (so deFreitas, Malcolm, Lewis etc as well as Lamb ,Smith) now its mainly the result of South African overspill. Fwiw, I wish Kieswetter well. I hope he inspires more natives to pick up the old willow and leather.

  • Comment number 20.

    Now as for this tour to Bangladesh- it's great that there is some coverage being provided by the BBC. For a supposed 'second-string', I think everyone's doing a 'corking' job. In fact, I'm glad the top dogs aren't there because they're always so patronising towards teams like Bang. that listening would have been painful. Just a tiny thing on pronunciation- I realise you're not linguists- but in English the letter 'a' represents two broad sounds - short and flat as in 'bat' or 'cat' and long like in 'father'. In Bengali names, the a is always like the latter as in 'father' so that 'Dhaka' is pronounced roughly 'ducker' and not 'dacker'. Likewise 'Bangladesh is pronounced 'Bungladesh'- as in our word 'bungalow' - which is where the word derives from (it was a type of house in that part of the world). If you could all train yourselves to say thse names better it would be a beautiful thing that many would appreciate. Anyway, loving the coverage - keep it up.

  • Comment number 21.

    "Doesn't Craig Kieswetter have British parentage at least on one side? To me that makes it a little different than the Trott/KP debate."

    I'm not sure how, given that both Trott and Pietersen also each have one British parent.

  • Comment number 22.

    Will those fans travelling to Bangladesh for the Tests be able to listen to TMS in the ground, Adam? On what frequency? Looking forward to the trip.

  • Comment number 23.

    James Westrip - you say that "a passport or eligibility rules do not make you English."

    Are we to take it from this that you think that a person's birthplace should define them for the entirity of their life / professional career? That someone who happens, through no fault of their own, to be born outwith a major cricketing country should be forever denied the opportunity to play meaningful international cricket??

  • Comment number 24.

    "Doesn't Craig Kieswetter have British parentage at least on one side? To me that makes it a little different than the Trott/KP debate."

    His mother is Scottish.

  • Comment number 25.

    "Dhaka is known as the "Rickshaw Capital of the World" with reportedly over 400,000 of the famous two wheeled carts making slow progress along the cities roads every day."

    All the rickshaws I saw in Dhaka during five years living there had three wheels; although I did once see a rickshaw-puller doing a spectacular two-wheel wheelie on front and right wheels as he had a puncture on the left one and was riding to get fixed. If you have a spare moment, ask one of them if you can try riding it with someone on board: it's heavier than you think. But do give him a few taka, they have a terribly low life expectancy - and stay off the main roads! I hope you'll send more postcards before you leave.

    We all have to get used to different ways of thinking about nationality and identity. It was the source of world wars in the twentieth century; perhaps we can do better in the twenty-first if we take a broader view when deciding who counts as British or English. I for one don't want to go back to the days of Norman Tebbit's 'cricket test'.

  • Comment number 26.

    Nice PC from Dhaka. Best wishes to commentators Simon Mann, Simon Hughes, Shamim Chowdhury, Dominic Cork, Mark Butcher, Athar Ali Khan, Adam Mountford and Team TMS.

  • Comment number 27.

    Kieswetter is English. He plays for the team. He wants to play for England. I don't have a problem with anyone playing for England as long as they play for the team. I got a slight problem with Trott who celebrated SA's win over England in 2008 after having played a Twenty20 from England in about 2007.

    Hey Andy, I too have a cricket blog:
    Can you add it to the "Other cricket blogs"?

  • Comment number 28.

    England have lots of players who are good to play for England. There are 18 county teams and a few players in each which are good enough to play for England. In fact, England brought Kieswetter a bit early. Kieswetter is still developing his batting. Prior should be playing now. Even Ambrose is good enough but Prior is just better. And all our bowlers are English. We've got 15 world class fast bowlers.


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