Saturday, 27 March 2010

England's Tour of Bangladesh - More Than Just 'Job Done'

Earlier this week England completed the expected 2-0 test series win against minnows Bangladesh. The performances have come under criticism as many onlookers believed that England made unduly hard work to beat a side that has only 3 of their 66 tests. The time difference of the tour has made it difficult to follow but the newspapers and TV reports seem to unfairly emphasis the short-comings of the team rather than their successes. Even though the victories may not have been as convincing as many would have hoped I still believe, contrary to the opinions of many, the tour has yielded far more positives than it has negatives.

The tour comes on the back of a tough winter tour of South Africa and before a busy summer schedule as the England team then look to defend the ashes in Australia at the end of the year. The old cliché in sport remains, a team can only beat what is front of them. England did that without ever really looking in serious danger of losing, other than in the eyes of some of the more pessimistic critics.

Alastair Cook stepped up to replace the resting Strauss as captain for the tour and acquitted himself in a promising manner. He may have showed naivety in some field placing setting, especially leaking runs through third man, but this is understandable and is all part of the learning curb for the 25 year-old. He got scores of 173, 39, 21, 109(no). His ability to perform at his best with the bat while under the pressure captaincy bodes well for his and England's future. People can point the figure at some selection issues and field settings but his leadership with the bat and his first taste of test captaincy was a promising one.

The bowlers, on very flat wickets, did not make a bad account of themselves. Broad may have continued his inconsistent bowling performances but his ability to pick up key wickets and swing the bat means he does, and will continue to, warrant his place in the side. Graeme Swann, who is ranked the second best bowler in the test arena, collected the Man of the Series award as he picked up 16 wickets in the four innings. The off-spinner remains the reliable performer with the ball and his ability to constantly pick up wickets on any surface has been a remarkable and invaluable revelation over the past two years.

The less familiar face of Tim Bresnan was another solid performer in the series as the 25 year-old Yorkshireman chipped in 7 wickets and got a score of 91. His performances with bat and ball will have certainly given the selectors food for thought for the summer ahead. The conditions did not favour the pace bowlers. In a very hot and humid climate and on very flat pitches wickets were hard to come by but the work rate of the front-line seamers was admirable.

Other areas that England can be pleased with were the performances of Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell. KP hit a solid 99 in the first innings of the first test and then followed it up with an unselfish quick fire 32 as England aimed to set a declaration target. In the second test he added a 45 and 74(no). Meanwhile Bell notched up an 84, 39 and an impressive 138. Many people will be quick to point out they were facing a bowling attack that does not strike fear into any international batters on favourable wickets. They both, however, showed good patience and took large strides towards finding their form having both only returned to International cricket recently.

As for the other members of the team; Trott, Collingwood, Prior and Tredwell and Carbury. These players may not have excelled but to expect all members of the squad to shine in a two-test-series just because the opposition was Bangladesh is foolish. Bangladesh themselves continue to make progress in the test format and will benefit from opportunities to play against the other larger cricketing nations. Furthermore, in the ODIs that preceded the test series, both Craig Kieswetter and Eoin Morgan cemented their places in the England team in the shorter form of the game and this ought not to be forgotten.

Many have voiced their opinions of how Strauss should have been in Bangladesh and honoured his role as captain. This is a separate issue. For the record, I believe he ought to have gone with the team as that is part of his job description. Nevertheless, this should not overshadow the positives that can be taken from the test series, and indeed, the tour as a whole.

Conditions were not easy and Bangladesh performed better than many expected. The England batsmen who needed runs, namely Pietersen and Bell, got just that while Trott, who would have wanted to cash in on some valuable runs, was the unfortunate recipient of two harsh umpiring decisions. Cook excelled as stand-in captain and he and the team will be better for the experience. In the bowling department, Swann was excellent, again, and Bresnan made a bright start to his international career.

The tour was ultimately not just a case of 'job done'. England comfortably won the first and second tests by 181 runs and 9 wickets respectively. People, perhaps, placed too much emphasis on the opposition. As such positives were discredited because ' its only Bangladesh' and this does a disservice to both England and Bangladesh. England were expected to win 2-0 and they duly delivered with a squad which some notable absentees – Strauss, Anderson, Onions. Of course the upcoming opposition in 2010 will be tougher tests but England's tour of Bangladesh has offered far more positives than negatives ahead of them.

Thoughts, comments and opinions please...


  1. Ultimately we are looking ahead to the Ashes Tests this coming winter, and a tough Test series against Pakistan before this. With these games in mind it seemed a strange decision to leave Strauss out the tour even though it was against mediocre opposition.

    Swanny again proved he is developing into a top class spinner, and if England have any chance of winning the ashes down under, he needs to be fit. With regards to KP and Bell, it will be interesting to see how they fair over the summer. Bell is undoubtedly talented and if he can hit some good form could have a large role to play in the ashes this winter.

  2. I agree with what you have said as Strauss' absense will continue to be the subject of negative comments including Shane Warne's suggestion that it was an 'insult' to Test cricket. I personally think that he is right. The progress of KP and Bell is also of key interest to the team as they are essential players for the Ashes Down Under.

    How convinced were you with England's tour of Bangladesh though?

  3. Nice post. I have to say that I was quite pleased with the tour of Bangladesh. Bangladesh are a much improved side these days and, in Shakib Al Hasan, they have one of the best young all-rounders in world cricket (as he proved throughout the series).
    The objectives for the tour were always going to be to make sure we won both tests, see the batsmen (in particular KP) get runs, and see how some a relatively inexperienced bowling attack would cope in difficult bowling conditions. All of these objectives were achieved and I agree with you that Tim Bresnan really shone out but he is still a long way off being they player he could be. Personally, I don't think he is ready, nor will he be ready, to go to Australia.

    With regard to Engand's summer programme, I can't see Pakistan causing us too many problems at home. Pakistani cricket is in absolute turmoil, with them having sacked two of their best players and suspended a number of others. They are in a rebuilding phase and I think it could be a very difficult series for them in England this summer. Our batsman are too comfortable on English pitches and our bowlers know exactly how to exploit the varying conditions.

    The main problem I see is that we wont be playing any really competitive cricket before we go to Australia in the Winter (which makes it even more bemusing that Strauss decided not to tour on what could potentially have been a 'banana-skin' trip to Bangladesh).

    I imagine all the batsmen will score runs, all the bowlers will take wickets and then we will go to Oz and be confronted with a proposition we are completely under-prepared for: an Australian team and a public desperate for revenge.

  4. We clearly agree on most issues and you make a very good point on how England's matches against weaker sides ahead of the Ashes is not idela preparation and may well prove detremental. I would, however, have to disagree with your point that Bresnan will not be ready for the winter trip to Oz.

    He must surely be our 4th choice seamer behind Anderson, Broad and Onions. Swann will obviously be our primary spin option with Tredwell and Rashid in reserve if we want to go for two spinners. If when we are Down Under it is decided our best option would be a five man bowling attack it would have to include Bresnan, especially if he continues to show that he can bat in the same way Broad and Swann have.

    Sidebottom is hampered with injuries and when the ball isn't swinging fails to look dangerous. Steve Finn, 20, showed some promising signs on debut but he is certainly still too young. Bresnan, if he stays in the team and performers well over the summer, could end up having a big role to play against the Aussie's. But there is a lot of cricket to be played before the Ashes and ultimately time will tell.

  5. I take you point but I still think there is time for someone else to put their name in the hat. If someone has a good start to the county championship season then there is a good chance they will get a shot at the test team this summer and maybe get the chance to make a name for themselves (I would suggest that Ajmal Sahzad at Yorkshire is a real contender to do this).

    If Bresnan is going to go to Australia then he will have to prove he can take wickets at Test level against Pakistan this summer. It is also thought that the conditions in Australia will suit Finn's bowling more so I wouldn't rule him out of being in the side.

  6. yes boss, ajmal sahzad is badman. his bowling is great but his batting is even better, if that's even possible. how's kevin peterson doing?


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