Swann impressed by Bangladesh talent
A brilliant innings of 125 from 120 balls from Tamim Iqbal was unable to rescue Bangladesh from some familiar failings in the first ODI at Dhaka, as their coach, Jamie Siddons, was once again left frustrated by the lack of expertise on display. Nevertheless, as England's spinner Graeme Swann noted, the momentum can shift very quickly in three-match series, as the teams prepare to do it all again in the second match on Tuesday.
"It's nice to have just a three-match series, rather than a seven-match slog around the country," said Swann. "I think it's better for the game if it's a shorter series. It is nice, having won the first match, to know that this next game could potentially wrap up the series, but on the other hand, if you're the team that's 1-0 down, you only need to win tomorrow to be right back in it. It's good for the game."
The opening ODI was a face-saver for both teams. England were able to avoid the ignominy of their first defeat in any contest against Bangladesh, while their opponents were able to demonstrate that, whatever the shortcomings that still exist in their set-up, the gulf that once existed between the two sides is narrower than at any time in their previous eight ODI encounters.
But though Siddons was full of praise for Tamim, whom he declared to be "world class", he was nevertheless left to rue a performance that could, with a touch more application, have given England a far greater challenge than the 229 target that they eventually chased down with six wickets in hand.
"It's great to see one of the boys stepping up, and they do it regularly now," Siddons told Cricinfo. "Hundreds used to be very rare, but in the last few months we've put together six or seven, so that's amazing stuff for individuals. But it probably needed one guy to make 50 or 60 with Tamim, and then who knows? I've seen it happen to better sides as well, but it's disappointing. It was a very flat wicket and we got first use of it, but no-one [but Tamim] went on."
Swann, with three cheap wickets, played a key part in the derailment, but he refused to be drawn into criticism of their approach. "I've been impressed with the standard of cricket over here," he said. "They've certainly got talent in the team, and it's certainly not for an Englishman to say they threw their wickets away and got bowled out cheaply, because that's what we do most of the time.
"It would be very harsh for an Englishman to turn around and criticise anyone else's one-day cricket," he added. "They are an ever-improving side. I think four or five years ago, every team who played them expected to walk all over them, but I don't think that's the case anymore. They've got some real talent in the team."
Swann reserved particular praise for Tamim, who lived up to the reputation that had preceded him in the build-up to the series. "He certainly seems a good prospect. He came out all guns blazing and fair play to him, he smashed it everywhere. We kept getting wickets at the other end, so it put a lot of pressure on him, but the way he responded and tempered down his innings was very impressive. It was a good knock."
The manner in which Tamim reined his innings in, from a 32-ball fifty to a 94-ball hundred, was especially pleasing for Siddons, who claimed it was a sign that his message was finally getting through to a talented but temperamental squad.
"Team rules warranted him pulling his horns in a bit and batting through the innings, and he was six overs away from doing that," Siddons said. "So he stuck to the rules. He knows how to dominate, but when we lose a few wickets, he knows how to back off and work the innings around.
"Right from the time I got here, my philosophy was that we were going to get some world-class cricketers here, because I don't believe we've got any," he said. "And now I think we've got two or three. Tamim is proving to me that with the hundreds he's getting against the better sides, and the way that he is making them, that he is world-class. He's capable of taking on any player in the world and having some success."
England dearly hope that their new opening batsman, Craig Kieswetter, will prove capable of producing similar fireworks in the opening overs of subsequent contests. But his debut innings was a chastening experience, as Alastair Cook pinched the strike for the first three overs, before Bangladesh's captain and senior spinner, Shakib Al Hasan, brought himself on to bowl. Kieswetter might have been dismissed twice in his first over, before eventually charging down the track to be stumped for 19.
"If he wants to keep running down the wicket to our spinners, we'll keep bowling spinners at him. That'll suit us perfectly," said Siddons, who hinted that it might be a tactic they employ regularly during the series. "He was obviously uncomfortable against them early, so we'll see how he goes. The ball didn't spin a lot, so that was a bit unfortunate, but Chittagong spins."
From England's point of view, Swann is determined that they build on their success in the first ODI, and set about using their lead to dominate the coming contests. "I think it would be good if we batted first as well, because you want to know you can win games from any position," he said. "The Australians always say it doesn't matter whether you bat or bowl first, it's whoever plays the best cricket who wins. If we go bat first, we'll be looking to post a total that's beyond the reach of Bangladesh."
Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo. Go to http://twitter.com/miller_cricket to follow him on Twitter through the England tour of Bangladesh.