Bangladesh in England 2005 April 25, 2005

Whatmore eyes English challenge

Cricinfo staff

Whatmore celebrates victory against India last December © Getty Images

Dav Whatmore, who has renewed his contract as Bangladesh coach despite sporadic rumours that he may be offered the Indian job, is looking ahead to the team's first tour of England, which also serves as a curtain-raiser to the most eagerly anticipated Ashes series of recent times.

Whatmore took charge of Bangladesh in June 2003, and despite frequent blips, there have been some encouraging performances, most notably a first-ever Test series win against Zimbabwe, and an ODI triumph against India last December. Whatmore, who had previously led Sri Lanka to World Cup glory in 1996, is quoted by Pakistan's The News as saying: "My employers were very, very keen I stay with them and they have been pretty happy with progress of team."

Bangladesh have recently introduced a four-day domestic competition, and the Under-19s upset Australia in the World Cup last year, prompting much optimism about the game's future in the country. "There are continuing challenges along the way as team has only begun their journey," said Whatmore. "They are pretty much a young group of players, not necessarily in years but in experience."

A two-Test series against an English side rated second only to Australia will be an arduous challenge, as will the triangular NatWest Series that follows, with Australia providing the additional opposition.

"It's going to be extremely tough, there is no question about it," said Whatmore, when asked about the challenge of playing in the early part of the English summer. "But having said that we are keen to make an impression to really test and push the opposition.

"I'm not going to make predictions but we are looking forward to the tour very much. In the Test matches, we are playing the second-ranked team in the world so that's very difficult in itself. In home conditions, it's even more difficult."