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November 1, 2003
Martin Saggers: England's latest one-cap wonder?
© Getty Images
For Bangladesh, the final day of Test cricket in this brief but enlightening series could not end quickly enough. They were already a man short because of Mashrafe Mortaza's injury, and when Khaled Mahmud paddled a tame catch to his opposite number, Michael Vaughan, at square leg, the margin of defeat - 329 runs - bore a sad comparison with any of their previous 24 losses.
It was all a little undignified. But until Bangladesh's batting makes the same sort of strides that their bowlers and fielders have managed in the past year, it promises to be a common failing. None of their batsmen made more than 60 in the series, and all too many fell victim to indiscreet shot selection, particularly on this final day, when defeat might have been inevitable, but surrender was most certainly not.
At the post-match press conference, one local reporter was moved to suggest that England had resorted to "near-Bodyline" tactics to secure their victory. He was clearly as unused as his team to a pitch that, for once, got above ankle-height on the fourth day. Bangladesh need more of the same to hasten their development, but it is not a transformation that can be expected overnight - it has taken Indian cricket nearly 70 years to wake up to the same needs. It can only be hoped that the five new stadia being built for next year's U19 World Cup, including a brand-new facility here in Chittagong, are as receptive to decent fast-bowling as this pitch.
An early breakthrough and a pair of reckless run-outs, and England were home and hosed after 19 overs. It meant that the rest of the day was an end-of-term party. Richard Johnson continued to shoot fish in a barrel, Rikki Clarke peeled himself off his death-bed for a wicket in his solitary over, while Martin Saggers - quite possibly England's latest one-cap wonder - took the most memorable of souvenirs away with him, with a stunning one-handed boundary catch off Alok Kapali. The only worry was the continued anonymity of Ashley Giles, who rolled out five wicketless overs and needs an urgent injection of good fortune in the one-day series.
Regardless of Bangladesh's progress, only a 2-0 victory would have sufficed for England, and they duly delivered at a canter. If Vaughan had a taka for every time he had used the words "hard work" in his interviews this series, he would be a rich man indeed. But these were not mere soundbites - England were a driven team on this tour - and it was their greater fitness and know how that ensured the result that the nation expected.