Mehedi Hasan extracts turn and respect against England’s will

We all can’t spake.

Uncertainty is the lifeblood of sport and so this series has made for compulsive viewing.

As the Test Match Special Twitter account put it yesterday.

Ah momentum. Fickle, whimsical momentum.

We started watching at tea today. England had pretty much skittled Bangladesh and sauntered to 100-0. It was way, way better than we had expected. 14 seconds later, England had lost 10 wickets and the Bangladesh players were doing a crazy bouncing dance in the outfield.

Bangladesh, Boshladesh, Kapowladesh

Shakib-al-Hasan’s been solid for years, but now that they can have Mehedi Hasan bowling at the other end, Bangladesh have gone up a level. As we said last week, they appear to have reached a tipping point. They’re no longer looking to merely compete. They now see a way in which they can win. Flat Bangladeshi pitches may become a thing of the past.

Mehedi took 19 wickets in the series. That’s the kind of contribution which could easily prove decisive over three matches, let alone two. We likened him to Muttiah Muralitharan last week in terms of his importance to the side and the workload he’s likely to shoulder. This win feels very much like the time Murali took 16 wickets against England in the one-off Test in 1998.

Before that moment, even if England often said the right things about Sri Lanka, their actions (one-off Tests) told the true story. Respect had been not so much earned as demanded at knifepoint.

Throughout this series, pundits have spoken about getting young players into the England side to see what they could do ahead of the India series. The subtext – that the Bangladesh Tests were of far less significance – was obvious.

Now, as the England team exits the country with a draw, there will be a moment of ‘wait, what?’ among some people as they realise what has taken place. You never know, this might even mark the moment at which people stop routinely taking out scores against Bangladesh when presenting players’ Test batting averages.

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16 Appeals

  1. Can England now even hope to win one test match against India?

  2. I don’t think many England batsmen would mind if their scores against Bangladesh weren’t considered towards their averages after this series…

  3. Interesting move to name the same squad for India. Plenty of time for Ballance to perfect his high-vis bib wearing technique before he’s never heard from again.

    • I really don’t see the point in Ballance being given bib-wearing duties in India. He’s surely going to be dropped for the first test (you’d assume for Hameed). And if anyone gets injured/struggles then surely a batsman in (very) scratchy form who’s just been dropped would be the last person you’d want to bring in.

      It would be kinder to all parties to just send him home. I can see why the management might not want to call another new face into an already pretty green batting order but I don’t think they’d even need to call up a replacement: Pick the four top order batsman in the squad followed by Ali/Stokes/Bairstow in whichever order you fancy. If anyone gets injured or if one of the youngsters struggles then Bairstow moves to four and you bring in Buttler at seven, with Woakes at eight. Even with another injury Woakes is a pretty decent seven with Rashid at eight.

  4. In other news, Alex Bowden’s Twitter Round-up cheered me up this afternoon:

    http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/1063614.html

    • Who is this Bowden guy? I feel the urge to genuflect. Top stuff.

      Ryan Sidebottom wins the internet for that particular day.

      KP is clearly a tool because someone would willingly be paying him a suitcase full of money to bang on about their on particular brand of caffeinated stimulant. A trick missed, dare I say. He should have asked himself ‘What would Michael Vaughan do?’

  5. I don’t spake much round here these days but I do find the “oh aren’t we beastly to poor Bangladesh” trope genuinely annoying, there’s been a ton of it about, especially after the narrow Chittagong win, when the Guardian OBO commentary posted the classic “oh, what a shame” when England pinched that game. No-one has underestimated Bangladesh, no-one underestimated Sri Lanka, the tours just do not stir the blood of the ticket buying public like the larger cricket playing countries, I mean just ask New Zealand who have been doing this a lot longer than the above mentioned teams and still barely get a decent series against us. I mean no-one ever regarded the 2-test series vs NZ as a warm-up to the Ashes in 2015 as some kind of patronising sporting travesty , did they, despite NZ being a far more interesting and fun team than the Aussies? The point is, only a few thousand were in the stadium to see this historic win so what chance of selling out a tour in England? And does it not make sense to use a 2-test series in Bangladesh as a prelude to a five-setter vs the Indians? This whole England deserve to lose cos they’re beastly to the smaller nations is absolute trash. I mean, hats off lads for touring when many other countries wouldn’t. And hats off for bagging a classic one-day series 2-1 and drawing a classic test series 1-1. But somehow that does not fit the narrative.
    I may be a bit drunk as I type this. I’ll regret this in the morning, I’m sure.

    • King Cricket

      October 31, 2016 at 8:38 am

      Don’t think it’s so much the team or the ECB who are at fault. They seem to have taken the whole thing seriously. It’s more the writers and pundits, many of whom have said things that give the impression they think of these matches as little more than a warm-up rather than a Test series in its own right.

      It can be considered less important than a five-Test tour of India, but to give the impression that one matters and the other doesn’t is something else. Not everyone is guilty of this, obviously, but it is a common undercurrent.

      Two Tests against Bangladesh is not enough, just as two Tests against New Zealand was not enough. Pretty sure we complained about people presenting that series as a warm-up too.

    • Since I started commenting on this site, I’d be surprised if I have ever missed an opportunity to rail against the so-called two-test series whenever England has been involved in such a thing and indeed quite often when I spot other teams trying to get away with calling two tests a series.

      New Zealand have often had the rough end of the stick in this regard, as you quite rightly say, Jimmy.

      I also agree with KC’s point, that his article is a rail against the pundits who trivialise the matches against lesser-cricketing-nations (Bangladesh is certainly not “smaller” by any criteria, unless you use factors pertaining to money, which is of course a key if not over-riding factor).

      On the money side of it, of course it makes sense to play more matches against Australia and India than New Zealand and Bangladesh. But it is equally valid to heap praise on the latter nations when they do well despite the manifest disadvantages they face with regard to the resources, not least money, available for them to develop their teams. If they do well despite those disadvantages, they deserve praise. If a major team does badly despite its advantages, it deserves opprobrium.

      On the specifics of the England tour of Bangladesh, I agree that the ECB deserves praise for going ahead with the tour. Bangladesh deserves praise for performing above expectations.

      But the ECB also deserves censure for letting our spin resources (both delivering it and batting against it) get so thin and weak in the last few years. That shows disregard (or at least negligence) towards most of the places – at least half the major places – that cricket is played around the world. Not good.

      I think England has strong squads emerging but our capabilities on turning tracks are poor. If our players don’t learn mighty quick we are in for a long, hard winter in India these next few months.

      • Everyone’s criticising the two tests but in another breath the scheduling – when would there be time for a third? It’s already insane to be fitting in seven before the end of the year in my opinion. The only way to manage longer series against the lesser crowd-drawing teams would be to play the others less frequently, and that won’t happen (money). So this fudge is the best we’re going to get.

      • Good point, Mike and to some extent this winter’s schedule isn’t too bad, because if we had been looking at 5 or 7 ODIs against Bangladesh and/or India I’d have been telling you exactly where that time should have come from.

        But even this winter’s schedule…

        …did our boys really need a three-week break over Christmas? If we play in Australia or South Africa, that Christmas period is sacrosanct for sport, not a mid-tour break.

        The changeover could have taken place at the same time (one week into January) and the test players could have had a slightly more spread out brace of tours, even if there had been eight rather than seven tests to the tour.

        Other touring sides have played Christmas/New Year tests in India and there are plenty of places in India where western-holiday-season scheduling is good for crowd numbers.

        Perhaps there were very good reasons for the Christmas break this year, but playing eight tests rather than seven in a winter (especially as the pairing of Bangladesh and India alleviated the need for meaningless warm-up matches in Southern Asian conditions between the two series) would not have been absurd if scheduled right.

  6. I’m sure you’ve all seen this already, but this is a thing of great beauty:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/disability-sport/37818594

  7. Ritesh Banglani

    November 1, 2016 at 6:50 am

    It isn’t much of a momentum if it “reverses in a matter of minutes”, is it?

    • King Cricket

      November 1, 2016 at 8:03 am

      We’re now worried that cricket’s interpretation of momentum as a flighty, unpredictable force has transcended the traditional meaning to such an extent that people don’t even notice when we joke about it.

      • That’s how people are going to interpret momentum and there’s nothing you can do about it. The die is cast. You’re swimming against the tide there, trying to turn around a tanker with a speedboat change.

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