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England hold their nerve in Chittagong

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Adam Mountford | 12:52 UK time, Tuesday, 16 March 2010

So England eventually got there in the end.

I know the team likes to be involved in great rearguard actions on the final day of Test matches, think Cardiff and Cape Town, but normally it's England battling against the odds rather than the opposition.

There was a moment at lunch on the final day at the Zohur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium when a few people started to wonder whether Bangladesh could pull off a great escape -and the prolonged resistance came as something of a surprise. The generous sprinkling of England supporters, who've made the journey here to Chittagong, were probably expecting an afternoon on the beach at Cox's Bazar rather than a tense day of Test cricket.

At times like that you can normally differentiate between former players and those of us who just love the game. I think laymen like me tend to worry too much even if cricket logic suggests that certain outcomes are impossible.

In the TMS box at lunchtime, I was putting forward the theory that a draw for Bangladesh in the circumstances would probably be their best ever Test result. But the likes of Simon Hughes, Mark Butcher and Dominic Cork were quick to point out that I should stop speculating as England were going to wrap up victory sooner rather than later.
Adam Mountford interviews Alastair Cook and Graeme SwannAdam Mountford interviews Alastair Cook and Graeme Swann
I remember it was the same during a couple of last year's Ashes Test matches. As Australia began the final days at Lord's and the Oval, I recall being more than a little anxious that the Aussies could create cricket history and chase down massive targets. There were no such concerns from the likes of Agnew, Boycott or even the normally nervous Phil Tufnell.

What I try to explain to the ex-professionals is that as a seasoned England watcher, your default position is to expect the worst and then you won't be too disappointed!

England's struggle to victory didn't displease some of the TMS listeners. Richard Teeling e-mailed us in the early hours of Tuesday morning from an overnight shift: "It's quiet here in ambulance control, I suspect an easy England win but please boys drag it out in true England fashion till 6am when I finish work to keep me awake."

England didn't let Richard down!

Its never ceases to amaze me just how many people are listening to us - even with play in this series starting at the unsociable hour of 3.30am GMT.

We often hear from students working through the night. Adrian at Aston University got in touch during the Test: "Loving listening to the cricket while being up writing an essay that is due in in seven hours time, it is keeping me sane!"

Peter in Bath contacted us on the first day of the Test to tell us where he was following TMS: "Listening in hospital. Bloke in next bed snoring loudly. Suppose I should thank him for waking me up in time for the match. Thank goodness I remembered the pocket DAB and headphones. Going home later fortunately. You guys are saviours, thanks!"

Whilst Andy e-mailed us from Runcorn: "I'm working at a housing project through the night. You are keeping me awake. I don't finish till 8 and will be listening on long wave in the car on my way home."

So England and the Test Match Special team are now making the journey 160 miles south back to Dhaka. We heard earlier that the Bangladesh capital has actually had some rainfall in recent days and one of the rumours at the start of the fifth day in Chittagong was that the bad weather may reach the Zohur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in time to help save the home side.

It will be interesting to see what the line-ups will be for Saturday's second Test. Will England persist with the policy of picking just four frontline bowlers? Will they include a third debutant of the series, with James Tredwell included as a second spinner?

As for Bangladesh, we expect some changes to their team - with even some reports that Rokibul Hasan, who sensationally quit international cricket on the eve of the series at the age of just 22, may be about to reverse his decision. We certainly hope for a change of surface in Dhaka - the pitch here in Chittagong did not help the image of Test cricket, offering virtually nothing to the bowlers.

We have the same line-up here on TMS for the second Test with Simon Mann, Simon Hughes and Shamin Chowdhury joined by Mark Butcher, Dominic Cork and Athar Ali Khan.

As well as ball-by-ball commentary, we'll also be hearing during the Test from England managing director Hugh Morris and from ICC President David Morgan. We'll have a special feature on Sussex and Surrey county cricket teams ahead of the new domestic season and we'll review England women's tour of India.

Plus, we'll have more on the forthcoming Sport Relief weekend including how the Barmy Army are taking part in the "shirt of hurt" campaign by donning the tops of their deadliest rivals, the Australian Fanatics.

TMS will be on the air at 0315 GMT on Saturday morning. Don't miss the daily TMS podcast with the two Simon's, Hughes and Mann, and keep checking our Flickr site for more behind the scenes photos. And keep getting in touch especially if you are up in the early hours through this blog, at or via text 84040.


  • Comment number 1.

    So basically the main thing to emerge from this is that England are at a similar test cricket level to Bangladesh.

  • Comment number 2.

    "So basically the main thing to emerge from this is that England are at a similar test cricket level to Bangladesh."

    I don't see why. It's still a comprehensive victory, it just took a while because of the flat pitch and playing four frontline bowlers.

  • Comment number 3.

    "So basically the main thing to emerge from this is that England are at a similar test cricket level to Bangladesh."


    It says this in the same way that Man U vs Fulham ending 3-3 for the year means that the two teams are equal.

    England, on an incredibly flat pitch and without several of their top players, beat a spirited Bangladeshi team by nearly 200 runs. Two inexperienced bowlers who, despite my feelings that neither are ready/good enough for test level, managed to create a decent impression in the game.

    There are plenty of issues to debate from the game, but the lack of a gulf in class between the two teams is definitely not one of those issues. England, with a sub-standard team and a rookie captain who admits to being conservative, outclassed Bangladesh in all but 4 (at most, arguably) sessions of the test. Would the same England team be able to compete against the top nations? - surely not. Are the likes of Carberry and Trott truly Test class? - quite probably not. Is Alistair Cook ready to captain a Test team? - almost certainly not.

    Is this mixture of "real" test players and A-teamers good enough to beat a team still coming to terms with international cricket, with only a few Test-class batsmen and, arguably, no Test-class bowlers? - almost certainly. Even on a pitch flatter than my singing (and to see England's vulnerability on these sorts of pitches, one only has to look back one year to the Windies series), Bangladesh never had a realistic sniff and were three hours away from a record-breaking miracle save... one partnership aside in either innings, they never looked even remotely capable of batting 5 sessions and beyond, on a pitch where, I'm sure Boycott, would claim his deceased childhood goldfish could have made 50.

    Fully convincing? Perhaps not... but 181 runs and 3 hours is pretty convincing to me. Even if England had wrapped this up in 3 days with every bowler getting a 5-for and every batsman scoring 100, people would still have commented. England, literally, cannot win in the eyes of some supporters from this series.

    I'm sure Cook/Bell/Pietersen/Prior should still be dropped too, right?

  • Comment number 4.

    Is Graeme Swann going to be fined for his outbursts after he dismissed the two Batsmen??

  • Comment number 5.

    I thought Dominic Cork a delightful addition to the TMS team. He is as combative and competitive a broadcaster as he was a player - which I suspect might not be the quality desired. At times he is a little unfair - trying to put words into his fellow commentators' mouths. I suspected they might find that a bit irritating but it was entertaining.

  • Comment number 6.

    Is it just me or do the bowlers (Harmison apart of course) get better treatment - and understanding - from the media than our batsmen? Sky team apart where the batsmen captains are all clustered, do we have more ex-bowlers commentating than ex-batsmen?
    Another thing I've noticed that whereas the ex-bowlers are clannish and more kindly to the bowling squad and newcomers, they are very contemptuous of batsmen. Old rivalry resurfacing?
    Unfortunately the ex-batsmen commentators appear very critical of their kind. Is this because batsmen are poor lonely souls, even in partnerships, while bowlers act together as a pack?

  • Comment number 7.

    Bangladesh cricket is improving. There were five decent knocks by the BD batsmen: two by Rahim and one each by Iqbal, Siddique and Mahamudullah. Against the massive total of the mighty English lions this performance of the Bangla tigers was modest and even respectable. But their fifties they need to convert into hundreds and consume some more sessions in the middle. Batsmen need to cultivate staying powers at the crease. Alastair Cook, KP, Collingwood, Bell, Swann and their team mates had a happy outing at the ZAC Cricket Stadium in Dhaka. Congratulations to the England batsmen and bowlers for the fine victory.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 8.

    Is it just me or do the bowlers (Harmison apart of course) get better treatment - and understanding - from the media than our batsmen?

    It's because batsmen's failings are easy to highlight, one mistake costs them an innings and sees them criticised even if they played very well for 30-odd runs. Wheras a bowler could be trundling along offering no threat whatsoever and gets slogged a couple of times straight to fielders and end up lauded for gettign important wickets. Wickets change matches and in the end the batsman is always on the wrong end of a wicket, unfortunately even ex-players seem to fall into the easy-criticism camp when you stick a microphone infront of them.

  • Comment number 9.

    ZAC Cricket Stadium is ofcourse in Chittagong !

  • Comment number 10.

    So the next test is to be held in the deep blue? (Dhaka is well north of Chittagong, not south!). Considering the conditions and the conservative approach to team selection and tactics, the makeshift England team performed adequately overall. From experience, Bangladesh has a harsh environment to play the game over any lengthy period. In particular, fast bowling can test endurance and fitness levels to the limit. given this, the trio in the England team peroromed admirably.

  • Comment number 11.

    I thought England did everything they needed to do in this match, but not much else. I do think the decision to not enforce the follow on was sensible in the conditions, especially with 4 main bowlers and back to back tests. But it did let Bangladesh off the rack to an extent.

    I do wonder if Bangladesh have any chance in early summer in England? They may well be lambs to the slaughter in those conditions.

    On the TMS coverage, any chance of getting Channel 5 to let Simon Hughes do some radio work during an English summer? He is one of the more intelligent voices on the game, and just seems a bit wasted in the 45 minute highlights forum. Dominic Cork and Mark Butcher both did very well, and Simon Mann is developing into a fine commentator, though I disagree with him about names, and presumably numbers, on the back of test shirts.

    I thought Shamim Chowdery (Sp?) was good as well, though he was perhaps trying to be a little to hard to be English, using 'English' phrases that no Englishman has used to describe a game of cricket in maybe 50 years!

  • Comment number 12.

    My Team for the 2nd Test V Bdesh:
    = LONG Batting + 3 Pace + 2 Spinners
    ... What more could you want!?

  • Comment number 13.

    Why worry about what team England picks?

    There is so much Cricket in the modern game that different combinations need to be tried regardless of form. Anyone who can pick the ideal England team on a consistant basis, please stop posting, play the lottery (you will win with that kind of luck) and send your winnings to the charity of your choice.

  • Comment number 14.

    Yes England eventually got there, but Bangladesh have some really good players and there is a lot of very derogatory talk about their standard of cricket. I think we are now seeing what they can do this test.

    I enjoy listening to test match special on the radio as I don't have sky. It is being spoiled for me by having to listen to Dominic Cork turn every coversation back to himself. Let's listen to someone else please.

  • Comment number 15.

    I have to disagree with No. 14 above, although if you'd asked me before I'd heard Dominic Cork I would have been less complimentary. I like the fact that he is still playing county cricket and can provide an uptodate insight to the county game. I found today's debate about the county structure fascinating because the contributors know something about the current county game, which is an area where I find the BBC Cricket Correspondent to be disappointingly weak.

    I am enjoying this TMS team more than any other for some time. I have always been a Simon Mann fan, but I am finding the others a balanced and erudite group. I liked Steve James's contribution last winter - where is he Adam?

  • Comment number 16.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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