Category: Bangladesh (page 1 of 6)

Gareth Batty – the winter bike

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Photo by Sarah Ansell

There seems to be a tendency in some quarters to perceive England’s Test tours of Bangladesh and India as being one long competitive outing.

They are not. They are separate. For all the talk of ‘taking a look’ at players ahead of England’s arrival in India, there is a Test to be lost this week and a series to be drawn.

England won the first Test by 22 runs. That isn’t much of a margin to be toying around with – particularly being as the home side has now played more Test cricket inside the last week than it did in the whole of the previous 12 months. They may improve.

The England management are hopefully aware of this, recognising that this match is not an early salvo, but a decider. We will therefore take it on trust that any changes to the side have been made to improve it, or at the very least to keep it to a similar standard without wearing bowlers out.

Stuart Broad seems likely to get a rest that seems more a preventative measure than a necessary break. If his floppy hair doesn’t slick with sweat and impede his performance, Steven Finn should be an appropriate replacement.

Zafar Ansari is also tipped to be on the receiving end of ‘the nod’. There’s no reason to believe he won’t bowl as well as Gareth Batty did in the first Test and he’s a better batsmen, so again this seems acceptable enough. His quickish left-arm spin could be very important in India too.

Batty seems to be perceived as a sacrificial old bike that no-one’s much interested in looking after. They’ll put some winter miles on him, set him aside to rust, maybe wheel him out again when the weather’s really bad and basically just do whatever the hell they feel like until it’s time to take him to the tip. The Yorkshireman, for his part, is delighted to be getting a bit of fresh air and so seems perfectly happy with this arrangement.

Why Bangladesh are potentially having a reasonably well-attended party

Bangladesh fan in Bristol (CC licensed by Synwell via Flickr)

Bangladesh fan in Bristol (CC licensed by Synwell via Flickr)

Twenty-two runs – England’s winning margin – is not a lot. You can splice and dice it however you want. It’s a bunch of thick edges to third man. It’s a handful of extra runs from your lower order across two innings because you’ve picked countless all-rounders. It’s less than the value of a dropped catch.

So while they may have lost, it’s clear that Bangladesh’s upward curve has attained credible height. More than anything, they seem to have reached a tipping point where it makes more sense to go for a win than play for a draw.

For most of their Test history, Bangladesh have played on flat pitches to give their batsmen a chance. Their batsmen have usually been worse than the opposition’s though, so this wasn’t really all that productive. For this series, the approach made even less sense. The home team’s one advantage over England is that they appear to have better spin bowlers, so the pitch became a turner and the batsmen were left to make the best of things.

The Bangladesh team as a whole is stronger nowadays. People have been looking out for a special player who could burgle Test matches for them. It’s not gone like that. Where once they relied on a couple of hit and miss players, they now have 11 hit and miss players. A greater proportion of hand-raisers, if you will.

Bangladesh have more potential party attendees. Sooner or later, they’re going to have a knees-up.

ITV4 Test highlights programme begs a few questions


Yesterday we let you all know that ITV4 are broadcasting Test highlights for this Bangladesh v England series. We suggested that if you missed the programme at 7pm then you might be able to catch it via ITV’s on-demand service. We may have misled you there. Doesn’t look like it’s gone on.

So did anyone actually see the programme? We found it fascinating. The commentary is provided by Ed Smith and Jonathan Trott and… that’s it.

Presumably the pair of them are holed up in some sort of commentary hovel in a squalid London suburb – but how does it work beyond that? Are they talking their way through every hour of every day of the Test? That’s quite a shift. They must be driving each other mental.

In theory, the production team could put the visuals together and then the two of them could commentate over just an hour of footage, but that would make it harder to hit that 7pm deadline and we’re pretty sure you’d also be able to tell. There would be a distinct that-thing-we-already-knew-happened-just-happened tone to it all.

Maybe they pace themselves, ignoring dot balls and singles and only opening their mouths when something eventful happens. You’ve still got to stay alert though. Even the umpires get some sort of rest every other over.

We’re fascinated to see what state they’re in by day five. Trott will be fine, obviously. He’ll just mark his guard, pick up his mic and press on. Smith though… we reckon Smith could snap.

Mehedi Hasan is no Murali

Mehedi Hasan is making his debut. Bangladesh saw fit to give him the Murali role.

Younger readers might think that ‘the Murali role’ is all about being brilliant and freakish and baffling people with magic, but there is a more prosaic aspect to it too. For much of his career, the boggle-eyed, flexi-limbed one-of-a-kind was obliged to bowl half of his side’s overs and take at least half of the wickets.

Being a genius can be bloody hard work.

We daresay the role doesn’t become easier when you’re not actually a genius. Mehedi Hasan isn’t a genius. He does however appear to be a pretty fine bowler on this minimal evidence. If he continues to open the bowling and monopolise an end, he might also end up with a shoulder every bit as loose as Murali’s by the end of what could prove to be a 20-year international career.

From England’s perspective, 258-7 was a decent salvage operation. While it’s hard to say whether that score’s any good or not until Bangladesh bat, we are still concerned about this generation of England batsmen.

Most will have rarely faced decent spinners in county cricket and until this season they will most likely have been countering them on seaming pitches anyway.

In the coming months, it’ll be interesting to see whether England Lions tours and the like have papered over these cracks. Much of the plaster in our kitchen was applied onto wallpaper, which just goes to show that despite what people think, you can achieve a lot with this sort of approach.

ITV4 are showing highlights of the Bangladesh v England Test matches


Just a quick public service post to say exactly what we’ve just said. ITV4 have got an hour-long highlights programme for each day of the two Test matches between Bangladesh and India.

Tonight (Thursday) it’s at 7pm and having just scrolled through the listings, it’s also 7pm for each of the four subsequent days of this match.

A word of warning though. If our experience with ITV4’s cycling highlights is anything to go by, you’d do well to avoid relying on their on-demand service over the weekend – it sometimes takes a while before episodes show up.

In summary ‘series record’ is the order of the day if that’s an option to you. Failing that, you might want to watch the ‘live’ highlights or on-demand will probably be okay most days.

England selectors spiked with Sunset Yellow

For much of the year England’s selectors are Uncle Alan and Auntie Cynthia, who always go to the Marks and Spencer coffee shop. On the average trip to town, they might stop in there two or three times to break up the afternoon. They will walk past any number of other coffee shops to go there but it will never once occur to them to try one out.

Alan and Cynthia have their coffee shop and they’re sticking with it. Alan has a white coffee. Cynthia has a pot of tea. They don’t always have something to eat, but if they do, they have toasted teacakes.

When England’s selectors arrive for the first Test in the subcontinent, all that goes out the window. Suddenly they metamorphosise into a pack of toddlers raked to the eyeballs on Sunset Yellow. Confronted with an oversized laminated menu, no-one has a clue what they’re going to do.

How many batsmen? How many bowlers? How many spinners? How many all-rounders? No-one knows. As for who those players might be, it could be anyone. Even the squad itself only gives a rough idea who might be selected.

It’s all very exciting.

The thinking at the moment is that England will go with three pace bowlers and three spinners, of whom most will be all-rounders of some standard or other. Somewhat oddly, however, it is the batting decisions which have been attracting more attention.

Perhaps it’s because batsmen tend to get a run (in the side) whereas bowlers are more likely to be chopped and changed. A week ago, the decision was between Haseeb Hameed and Ben Duckett. It now seems likely that the selectors have hit upon the innovative solution of selecting both and binning Gary Ballance.

Whether this comes to pass or not, who can say? Opinions change rapidly when there hasn’t yet been a first Test to firm things up a bit. A hamstring strain for a pace bowler could precipitate a whole series of knock-on changes that would result in Jos Buttler opening the batting. A nasty bout of dengue fever for someone might see Ballance back in the side as second spinner, batting at nine.

All we can say for certain is that we can forget about the coffee, tea and teacake order for at least the next few months. This is no bad thing. Life is all about making arbitrary decisions in the hope that everything will somehow be fine.

England are so good they even managed to beat Bangladesh

When England lost to Bangladesh at the World Cup, the British media stuck with the word ‘even’ – as in, ‘England are so bad, they even lost to Bangladesh’.

That line was a good fit for the narrative of the time, so it would have been counterproductive to investigate, let alone advertise, the merits of the winning team.

Since then, things have changed. The England one-day team has earned itself a heap of goodwill from the press and this means that there’s currently no real motive for talking down the opposition.

It’s nothing personal

Foreign readers, this is the truth of the matter. It’s not about you. The English are an increasingly insular people and so their apparent condescension is often just a vehicle for self-criticism. Arrogant, dismissive words about your cricket team are just a setup so that the England team can be made to look even worse.

This has been the attitude for so long that much of the media has been obliged to make a jarring leap of tone for the series just gone. “No, listen – Bangladesh are actually pretty good at home,” has been the recurrent message. “Who knew?”

They’ve presented that question as rhetorical because the answer “well apparently not you” doesn’t reflect well on them.

A lot of people did know, however, which has made their coverage seem a little odd.

All of which is just a bizarre excuse for our own slothfulness

You’ll notice that in contrast to this, we’ve hardly covered the series at all. This is not because we’re not interested – far from it. It’s just that our usual themes for one-day series – that there are too many matches and the outcome rarely seems to mean much – really didn’t apply.

Three matches was the perfect number, the teams were well-matched and the series as a whole was meaningful in that it has changed perceptions of both teams to some degree.

Quite simply, we had nothing to say.

Jos Buttler’s feud with Bangladesh – who started it?

Jos Buttler of England bats during the Royal London One-Day Series 2014 match at Lord's Cricket Ground, London Picture date Saturday 31st May, 2014. Picture by Sarah Ansell. Contact +447860 461617

Jos Buttler is not an overtly angry man. Few batsmen better expose the fallacy that attacking cricket and on-field aggression are somehow symbiotically linked.

As a batsman, Buttler demolishes via controlled explosions. He delivers a series of well-timed detonations and more often than not, the opposition implodes. Yet as a bloke, he makes you recalibrate the entry criteria for ‘softly-spoken’. It seems almost too obvious to point out, but his demeanour is as placid and undemonstrative as the professionals from whom he illiterately takes his surname.


In the second one-day international against Bangladesh, Buttler misplaced his rag. It’s usually as ever-present as that tatty red one Steve Waugh used to keep in his pocket, but when the Bangladesh players celebrated his wicket at him, he moved towards them and gobbed off rather than exiting the stage in silence.

At the post-match press conference, Buttler apparently suggested there was ‘history’ between himself and Bangladesh, but didn’t elaborate on that. This is the smartest thing to do because that way fans of both teams can conclude that the other side is in the wrong and everything can escalate until it no longer matters what precipitated the hatred, it only matters what happened most recently.

If you’re wondering what did happen most recently, it’s either Tamim Iqbal spurning Buttler’s handshake or Ben Stokes’ reaction to that, depending on which side of the argument you want to position yourself. The person who uploaded the YouTube video entitled Shame on Stokes: Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler Have Dishonest Behaviour With Tamim Iqbal is, we’ll assume, a Bangladesh fan.

There is a cricket angle to this too, by the way

Buttler also said, “Maybe you don’t know me as well as you think you do,” when asked whether this was the first time he’d lost his temper playing for England. That may be so, but it’s also fairly obvious that up until now he’s done a grand job of maintaining an unflustered exterior.

Whatever the cause, this was a plain old loss of control and anyone who thinks Combative Jos will be more effective than Glacial Jos clearly hasn’t been paying attention.


Bangladesh commit seppuku with surprise crockery

Playing India, Bangladesh got themselves into a position where they needed two to win off three balls. Metaphorically speaking, all they had to do was avoid smashing a plate and accidentally disemboweling themselves with a shard of it. Being as they didn’t even have a plate, things looked pretty good.

Somehow Bangladesh found a plate. Then they smashed it. Then they sliced open their abdomen.

Is Bumrah ever-living?

This is the question everyone’s asking. Mumm-Ra was ever-living – and therefore presumably still is. It therefore stands to reason that Jasprit Bumrah is ever-living too, what with his name sounding slightly similar and all.

Bumrah bowled well in the 15-over-a-side Asia Cup Final. He did a lot to ensure India won, if they won. If they lost, he can’t be blamed.

We could just wait an hour to see who wins the match, but the truth is life’s short for those of us who aren’t ever-living. We’ve got to crack on with the day (eating roast, maybe drinking some wine, watching telly).

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