Bangladesh v England, 2nd Test, Dhaka March 19, 2010

Alastair Cook set to stand by four bowlers


Alastair Cook is preparing to stick with the same balance of seven batsmen and four bowlers that carried his side to a comfortable, if somewhat laboured, 181-run victory in the first Test at Chittagong, as he aims to hand the England captaincy back to Andrew Strauss with a 100% record from his first tour in charge.

On the eve of the second Test at Dhaka, England are still weighing up their options and have not ruled out the introduction of a second spinner in James Tredwell to partner their ten-wicket Man of the Match from Chittagong, Graeme Swann.

But in the absence of a genuine allrounder - and Luke Wright has been virtually eliminated from their considerations - the likelihood of calling upon a five-man attack seems slim, especially now that England have a 1-0 lead in the series, and therefore no need to gamble with their selection.

"Historically four bowlers tend to do very well," said Cook. "In an ideal world you'd love to find that fifth bowler who can bat to find the perfect balance, and obviously that's what great allrounders like Jacques Kallis bring to the side, but they are few and far between. There's always a chance this pitch might suit a different attack or it might spin more, so you have to go with whatever side you think will win the game."

England's preparations received a boost when their senior fast bowler, Stuart Broad, reported fit after missing Thursday's practice with a stomach complaint. Assuming he is fully recovered, the only realistic change to the line-up that played at Chittagong would be the introduction of Tredwell at the expense of one of the other two seamers, most probably Steven Finn. However, given the positive impression he made on debut, an unchanged XI is the likelier scenario.

"We'll sit down after a look at the wicket and pick a team to win the game," said Cook. "If we think that two seamers and two spinners is the best way to go, then we will do that, even though it is very un-English. We are used to playing in English conditions where it's very unlikely you'd ever to go out with fewer than three seamers. But these are the selection decisions that do come up in the subcontinent, and if we want to do expand our game on turning wickets, we're going to have to get used to it."

Broad's most notable moment in a somewhat lacklustre performance at Chittagong was his failure to address the umpire while appealing for an lbw decision against Abdur Razzak, and with Swann also attracting opprobrium for his four-lettered send-off to Bangladesh's centurion, Junaid Siddique, England's behaviour will be under scrutiny at Dhaka. Cook, however, was unconcerned. "A lot has been made of those two incidents but the umpires haven't reported it, and the match referee hasn't reported it," he said.

"They were probably very close to the mark and Swanny has apologised, but we want to play hard, aggressive cricket and our disciplinary record over the last couple of years has been exceptional," he added. "You want to play close to the edge but if you do go over, you have to hold your hands up."

However, a mean streak will doubtless be essential during England's next overseas Test assignment, which just happens to be the small matter of an Ashes tour in roughly nine months' time, and Cook admitted that some of the team's thoughts and plans were already beginning to be projected towards Brisbane, the scene of that eagerly awaited first Test - especially after the manner in which the team capitulated against South Africa at Johannesburg in January.

"This is our last Test match away before we go to Australia and that has been noted," he said. "We discussed the issue this week about what it means to play for England and wanting to win, and how big it is to win 2-0. We've got jobs to do and responsibilities, and it's all part of our development as a side because in South Africa we didn't really do ourselves justice in that last Test match.

From Cook's own point of view, he is ready to relinquish his stand-in role having become a more rounded and mature player, thanks to his opportunity to take charge of the team in Strauss's absence. "I've got an understanding of what Straussy goes through and what you need from the people around you," he said. "When I go back into the ranks I'll a lot more confident in my thoughts and hopefully help Straussy a lot more.

"The balance of his leadership and my role will hopefully improve. You definitely need an air of confidence from that right-hand man. During the field I'll go and chat to Colly [Paul Collingwood] and his ideas are good, trustworthy ideas. You gain trust as a leader and hopefully I can give more help to Straussy, not just on the pitch but off the pitch as well."

England (probable) 1 Alastair Cook (capt), 2 Michael Carberry, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Kevin Pietersen, 5 Paul Collingwood, 6 Ian Bell, 7 Matt Prior (wk), 8 Tim Bresnan, 9 Stuart Broad, 10 Graeme Swann, 11 Steven Finn.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo. Go to to follow him on Twitter through the England tour of Bangladesh.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Andy on March 19, 2010, 23:03 GMT

    I understand why England don't want to change a winning team, but surely 6 frontline batsman is a bit excessive? On the basis that Strauss will walk back into the team at the expense of Carberry, I think England would get more out of this game by playing another bowler in his place. Tredwell would be the obvious inclusion. To stop the entire batting order being shuffled around, then why not move Bell up to open? It would be a great oppurtunity to see how the "new, improved, post-South Africa" Bell deals with setting up the game instead of reacting to it at No 6. Surely this situation would allow England to find out much more about the depth of the team?

  • Dummy4 on March 19, 2010, 22:12 GMT

    Yep, I agree allblue. They're bottling the batting decision. If the pitch is a belter then it should only require 5 specialist batsmen, plus Prior. To go in on these pitches with only one spinner is also criminal. So, make the big decision, explain it's horses for courses and get on with it. I actually reckon they should bump the whole order up one. Give KP the extra responsibility of being a number three. Charge him with the task of being the next Ricky Ponting... it'll play nicely to his ego! Then we don't have this ridiculous problem of shifting batsmen between 3 and 6 in the order.

  • Nevin on March 19, 2010, 22:04 GMT

    I see no reason for the criticism which has come Swann's way over the incident on the final day. Top level sport and in particular test cricket is a tough, hard game and a lot of things are said out in the middle that should remain there and really should not be picked up by the intrusive microphones which are now everywhere. We all say things in the heat of the moment that we regret later and, given that England hadn't had a breakthrough for over 2 sessions up to that point, it was a big moment. So leave him alone and let him get on with bowling - and bowling brilliantly. 5 bowlers is a must for this game, but it won't happen, the current England management is too totally wedded to 6 batsmen and Prior at 7 - this is with Brisbane in mind.

  • Simon on March 19, 2010, 17:29 GMT

    I think all this fuss was caused because it was against Bangladesh. Bangladesh is a nation of extremely friendly people. They haven't come out being that combatative, which is of course perfectly fine, and as the weakest test nation you do get a sense that certain parts of the media think we shouldn't be doing this as it's bullying them. You can really sense sometimes on BBC or Sky commentary some discomfort whenever England hit a batsman with a bouncer, it's as though we really shouldn' be doing that, we should be treating them nicer, like children almost. It's a little patronizing I thnk, the batsman and the people have shown they can look after themselves. As for Swann swearing, it was a mistake, he apologized and probaby offered to buy Siddique a beer, as he should. We've all got frustrated and done something we regret in life. Either you have an enviable life, or a pitiable memory, to know nothing of regret Desi.

  • Reza on March 19, 2010, 17:29 GMT

    @Neon, u asked what else beside apology? Yes, Needs punishment to make them realize that its a serious offense in subcontinent. If u fail to respect ur opposition culture then thats a crime. And it is no way near to gentleman-ship or aggressive cricket. You can not Out a batsman by playing so start abusing him? Come on man, what kind of cricket culture you are talking about. I have been watching cricket for last 25 years and it looks odd to me. Seeing, English players got away with these kind of behavior, even getting their captain's support is a dangerous sign for cricket world. @Fifth, u can play with ur hardship, no matter but you can not cross the line. If you cross then u deserve the punishment.

  • Graham on March 19, 2010, 14:55 GMT

    If Bangladesh are happy to stay in the Nursery and not deal with the harsh realities of the outside world, that is their decision. But in the real world cricketers sledge and swear and that's the way it is. Get over it and get used to it.

    It's not as if England are the only team that sledge and swear - haven't Bangladesh ever played Oz or the Saffers? Their language can be every bit as salty, and probably worse.

    Stop whining and grow up.

    As for England dithering about whether to play another bowler, I'd say it would be faintly ludicrous if they didn't. If England can't trust six batsmen to deliver against Bangladesh, then how on earth are they going to fare in 9 months time against Oz?

  • Zenon on March 19, 2010, 14:21 GMT

    i'm sorry Desi, what exactly is the difference? For the record, i do not enjoy being sweared at, but if someone apologises and it is a genuine apology, then i forgive him and get on with it. the guy swore. his bad. he appologised. so i will ask you again, in the hope of getting an answer. what more, beside the wholehearted and i believe genuine apology he has already given, would you like him to do?

  • Ross on March 19, 2010, 14:16 GMT

    I disagree strongly with Cook's (and presumably Flower's) thinking. Prior is a bona fide no. 6, and while I think 7 is one place too high for Broad, 9 is clearly one place too low for Swann. A four bowler strategy carries two dangers. 1) Increased risk of injury, particularly to the quicks. That fourth spell of the day, straining tired bodies, let alone the longer metric of 'burn-out'. 2) Injury in the course of the game to one of the four. Suppose Broad breaks down on the first morning? That would leave c.200 overs to be shared around the three remaining front-line plus part-timers. It is a big risk, and with the lower-order strength a completely unnecessary one. If you have Warne and McGrath in the XI fair enough, but otherwise shorter spells from fresher bowlers seems so obviously preferable. I don't share the sentiment expressed below that it is 'cowardice' as regards this match. Who would they drop - Carberry, Trott or Bell? That's the decision they've bottled I reckon.

  • Bapi on March 19, 2010, 12:28 GMT

    Well Neon, this is the difference between you and me. It's hard for us to digest this, definitely not so much for you. You grow up being swear-ed upon. Live with it.

  • Adam on March 19, 2010, 9:56 GMT

    Really can't believe they're not playing an extra bowler, especially since they made 600 for 6 in the first test with no problems, and then couldn't enforce the follow-on because the bowlers were too tired. It's extremely weak, and bemoaning the lack of an allrounder I'd say is irrelevant since Broad and Swann between them can certainly make a good contribution. DesiChele, for god's sake stop crying about one tiny indiscretion, it wasn't pleasant but it happens in EVERY game of cricket, the reaction on Cricinfo has been so over the top, in another article I saw somebody say that since Swann apologised, then it would be fine for him to commit murder and then say sorry! I've never seen such an overreaction to something so minor, just enjoy the cricket!

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