Wednesday, March 17, 2010

England win - but do people want more?

A victory margin of 181 run with three hours of the final day to spare can be considered pretty convincing, but a spirited rearguard effort from Bangladesh and a flat dry pitch has turned this victory into a laboured win for England.

True England should be beating sides like Bangladesh by clear margins, but to dismiss the absence of key players and the growing confidence and development of the Bangladeshis as a factor in the weary nature of the victory would be naive.

This was a mixture of A-teamers and first choice England players with the emphasis very much on experimentation or, in Kevin Petersen's case, a desperate attempt to claw back some form.
New skipper Alastair Cook, leader in place of the absent and influential Andrew Strauss, made some tactical errors on the final day, admitting after the game that he was conservative in his field placing. But this is a nursery ground for his development as a skipper - the time to make mistakes is now.

By only playing three pacemen, two of them relative rookies at this level, England left themselves exposed should they not dismiss the opposition quickly and long hard sessions took their toll. This is exactly what happened as the likes of Junaid Siddique and Mushfiqur Rahim dug in to frustrate the bowlers. In the end it was the brilliance of Graeme Swann, who bowled nearly 79 overs in the entire match, who let his weary pacemen off the hook.

Speaking of Swann, the Nottinghamshire spinner entered the record books after becoming the first England off-spinner to take ten wickets in a match since Jim Laker took 19 for 90 at Old Trafford in 1954. It s fitting reward for a player who has grasped his second chance at an international career by the scruff of the neck and turned himself into one of England's most reliable performers.

Bangladesh meanwhile are improving as a Test playing nation and surprised many with their resistance in the final two days of the test. Siddique and Rahim in particular batted superbly as they stayed together for two sessions, just short of 70 overs, racking up 167 runs in the process.
Siddique himself hit a marvellous century while only a rush of blood from Rahim, bowled while charging down the wicket to Swann, cost him a three figure score.

In the end it was a game where everyone can be satisfied. A weakened England side did what was expected of them, while the hosts showed they can hold their own in the test match arena. The cricket odds make England strong favourites to win the second Test, but Bangladesh will certainly be able to take positives out of the series.

Meanwhile, in football news, England remain third favourites in the World Cup 2010 betting despite the fact a number of important players are struggling with serious injuries.

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