Bangladesh v England, 1st ODI, Chittagong

Flintoff fireworks lift the tedium

The Wisden Verdict by Andrew Miller

November 7, 2003

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Andrew Flintoff: a typically ebullient innings
© Getty Images


Thank God for Freddie Flintoff. Without his wonderfully polarised performance - a frugal, wicket-laden bowling spell followed by a murderously swift half-century - this match would have been dragged kicking and screaming over the full distance. And even then the result would never realistically have been in doubt.

There are times when one-day cricket is so formulaic and dull, it is a wonder that anyone bothers to watch it. Today was one of those occasions. This match was over from the moment that Bangladesh surrendered five wickets for one run in 14 madcap deliveries. But from 66 for 7 with more than half the innings remaining, England somehow allowed the tail to wag for a further 26 overs. Michael Vaughan later implied this was no bad thing, as it ensured his batsmen were chasing a competitive total. He might as well have told the crowd to get packing, and wrapped a net around the square instead.

Happily, Flintoff is not one to complicate his run-chases by casting one eye to future engagements. He announced his return to the colours with a something-for-everyone performance. The home batsmen might not have appreciated his knuckle-rapping length, but the home fans were later able to revel in a typically ebullient innings - one that included a cannonball of a straight four that all but decapitated umpire Rahman, and an attempted sweep that rebounded straight onto his own nose.

Just as Shane Warne is able to spin the ball on glass, so Flintoff's heavy-limbed action can extract disconcerting bounce from the deadest of surfaces. So it was that the unresponsive Chittagong track actually backfired on Bangladesh. Their mid-innings debacle was instigated by Flintoff's fire at one end, and Ashley Giles at the other, who was grateful for the dry, grassless surface. His three wickets were a welcome change of fortune after the Test series, while his diving return catch to dismiss Mushfiqur Rahman was ample proof that he has regained a spring to his step.

After that, however, it was all a little drifty - as testified by 29 extras, which fell one short of being Bangladesh's top-scorer. The newly anonymous James Anderson eased back in action with a satisfactory effort, although Rikki Clarke and Richard Johnson still seemed to be feeling the effects of that 24-hour bug that laid them out on Wednesday. Or maybe, after their successes in the Chittagong Test last week, they were just feeling a little sorry for their opponents.

Andrew Miller is assistant editor of Wisden Cricinfo. He will be accompanying England throughout their travels in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

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Andrew Miller Andrew Miller was saved from a life of drudgery in the City when his car caught fire on the way to an interview. He took this as a sign and fled to Pakistan where he witnessed England's historic victory in the twilight at Karachi (or thought he did, at any rate - it was too dark to tell). He then joined Wisden Online in 2001, and soon graduated from put-upon photocopier to a writer with a penchant for comment and cricket on the subcontinent. In addition to Pakistan, he has covered England tours in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the World Cup in the Caribbean in 2007
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