BCB Development XI v England XI November 5, 2003

Solanki and Strauss star in England stroll

Nicholas Randall

Ian Blackwell hits out during his 62 from 43 balls

England 328 (Solanki 79, Strauss 51, Blackwell 62, Talha Jubair 3-67, Mohammad Ashraful 3-55) beat Bangladesh Cricket Board Development XI 161 (Giles 3-25) by 167 runs

Whatever England might have learned from their practice game against the BCB Development XI, it did not teach them much about tight finishes. They dominated from the first ball, and eventually coasted to victory by 167 runs.

It was a case of men against boys. The oldest Bangladeshi was 23, and most of the rest were much younger. So the result was hardly in doubt before the start, but the one-sided nature of the match became painfully clear as Vikram Solanki and Andrew Strauss piled up an opening partnership of 146 within the first 20 overs.

The gulf was rubbed in when the BCB XI batted. Chasing 329 for victory, they fell behind immediately, and lost further ground as the afternoon dragged on. They never looked like getting the runs, but nor did England look like ripping through them, so the innings meandered like a lethargic river.

Faced with such a large total, the Bangladesh batsmen had no option but to risk all in the hope of becoming a hero. Some prospered briefly, but none could keep it up. Manjurul Islam (not the recent Test fast bowler but a left-arm spinner) came nearest to heroics. He scored 47, but as it was already 68 for 6 when he came in he was on a hiding to nothing. Of the others, Mazharul Haque, with 41, was the only other player to exceed 22. There was no great collapse, just a steady ebbing away of wickets.

England bowled decently, using eight bowlers in all. Ashley Giles took three wickets, to make up for his fruitless show in the second Test, and he was economical, though little can be read into this performance.

But England did the main damage earlier. In front of a grand total of three spectators, Strauss, on his England debut, built on a cautious start, while Solanki was fluent from the first ball, his shots as silky as ever. They were aided by loose bowling - there were 12 extras in the first five overs - and some shabby fielding.

It was an odd innings, though - everything happened in reverse. After that very quick start, the scoring rate gradually declined. The first maiden of the innings came in the 49th over. As Strauss and Solanki had kicked on at more than seven an over, it was not too fanciful to suggest that England might make 400. After all Andrew Flintoff (the captain for the day) and Ian Blackwell were still to come.

And as the crowd grew, Flintoff and Blackwell did come. For a while they did not disappoint: they hit sixes - big cartoon ones - and struck fours with ridiculous ease. But on a day of dull predictability, such bright spots were never going to last. Flintoff made 43 and Blackwell 62 as, mainly through greed, England were bowled out for 328 with three balls remaining. Wickets really only fell when batsmen tripped over themselves in their eagerness to make runs. Solanki, Giles and Anthony McGrath were all caught playing lofted straight-drives, while Blackwell missed a huge heave. Gareth Batty was the last man out, top-edging a high full-toss as he attempted to pull.

But England's biggest problems came when they got down on one knee. They swept more than an overworked broom, and though it was profitable at times, it was always dangerous. Strauss and Flintoff both fell to slog-sweeps, while Paul Collingwood, after a scratchy 16, was bowled round his legs trying to paddle the ball to fine leg.

Although the competition was not stretching, Michael Vaughan was pleased that the seven additions to the England squad were given the opportunity of a match. The team for the first one-dayer on Friday will have a different look. Vaughan and Marcus Trescothick will return, and Richard Johnson and Rikki Clarke, both rested here following illness, have a good chance of regaining their places.