Bangladesh v England, 3rd ODI, Dhaka November 12, 2003

A case of arrested development



Andrew Flintoff: Bangladesh should be grateful that he missed the Test series

It wasn't quite a contest, and neither was it a write-off - but it was still a seven-wicket defeat, and for the third match running. As Andrew Flintoff continued his one-man assault on Dhaka's bank vaults, Bangladesh were left to reflect on their arrested development. If they had hoped for better at the start of this series, their only consolation is that this match was far from being the worst.

For England, the one sense they will be feeling right now is relief at a job well done. Elation after such a one-sided series would be inappropriate. Besides, there is no time for such frivolities. Tomorrow morning at 7am, they will be bundled towards their latest flight, bound for Colombo where the real test begins next Tuesday.

Bangladesh, meanwhile, will drift off for a much-needed break from international cricket. They reconvene in February for a trip to Zimbabwe that might, after their near-heroics in Pakistan two months ago, have been earmarked for their first Test victory. All such expectations have been firmly shoved back onto the shelf - and that is probably for the best.

Two men dominated this brief series, but for hideously polarised reasons. On the one hand, Flintoff's profile and performances soared into the upper echelons. Even the quality of the opposition could not detract from his appetite for destruction, and one can only speculate what carnage he might have inflicted had he arrived in time for the Tests.

But on the other hand sat the tragically isolated figure of Khaled Mahmud - cut adrift from his crowd, his crease, and maybe even his coach. He remains determined to stick at the job, but when the loudest cheer of the day is reserved for your run-out, it must surely be time to contemplate moving upstairs to the commentary box. Only a masochist or a self-publicist would cling to power at that sort of cost to their dignity.

Andrew Miller is assistant editor of Wisden Cricinfo. He will be accompanying England throughout their travels in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.