Trescothick leads the recovery before Read and Batty shine
Close Bangladesh A 242 (Nafis 118) and 6 for 0 trail England 333 (Trescothick 96, Read 82, Batty 50) by 85 runs
Chris Read cuts during his valuable 82
It was a tale of two tails at the BKSP sports academy. One version was low-lying, slithering and poisonous, and met a very sticky end at the hands of two spectators and a pair of deck-chairs. But the other - that belonging to England's batting order - had a rather more successful day, as Gareth Batty and Chris Read both recorded their maiden half-centuries in representative cricket. Their efforts ensured that England recovered from another top-order wobble to take a handy 91-run lead on the second day against Bangladesh A.
On the first day of last week's match at the National Stadium, England had lost four wickets for no runs in a frantic post-lunch spell. Today's effort began with a similar attack of the vapours, as Michael Vaughan and Paul Collingwood were both dismissed in the third over by Alamgir Kabir. Vaughan, who has now passed fifty just once in 19 innings as captain, was trapped lbw by one that kept low, and three balls later, Collingwood was comprehensively yorked for a duck.
At 3 for 2, an excitable crowd already had plenty to cheer about, and the sight of a Marcus Trescothick-led counterattack did not dull their spirits. All of a sudden though, all hell broke loose behind the bowler's arm, as some 400 spectators stampeded round the edge of the grass banks. The cause of their alarm was the appearance of a four-foot cobra, which had apparently fallen out of a tree and was swiftly bludgeoned to death for its carelessness.
The commotion soon died down (though not before Duncan Fletcher had wandered round for a glance), but for Nasser Hussain it had all been too distracting. He was caught behind as Talha Jubair extracted some useful lift, and when Graham Thorpe was adjudged lbw as he aimed to leg, England were 85 for 4 and struggling.
Marcus Trescothick: fell four short of a century
Trescothick, however, was in magnificent form. He greeted the former Test offspinner Fahim Muntasir with three fours in a row, and meted out similar treatment to the leggie Mosadek Hossain, whose first-ball half-tracker was belted over square leg for six. For the second time in two innings, however, Trescothick fell within sight of his hundred - lbw for 96 - as Alamgir returned to collect his third wicket of the innings.
At 176 for 5, England still trailed by 66 runs. But Rikki (Tikki Tavi?) Clarke was in fine fettle, standing tall to drive the spinners and clip the seamers off his toes. His 43 paved the way for Read and Batty to carry England into a commanding lead, as the Bangladeshi bowlers began to struggle in the intense heat of the afternoon. Read, whose footwork was superb, was the dominant figure in the partnership, and had cracked his way to 82 from just 117 balls when he drilled a low catch to Rajin Saleh at cover. He was furious with himself as he left the pitch, but with 43 runs already in the bank from last week, he is more than ready to take over from Alec Stewart in the Test middle-order next week.
Batty followed just two runs later when he holed out to long-on, but his 107-ball 50 is a useful reminder of his dual abilities, as the selectors debate whether to go with three seamers or two spinners at the National Stadium next week. England were bowled out for 333, with their last four wickets falling for 16, as Bangladesh A reached 6 for 0 at the close.
Andrew Miller is assistant editor of Wisden Cricinfo. He will be accompanying England throughout their travels in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.