Bangladesh tour of England, 2010 May 12, 2010

Realistic Siddons prepares for English challenge

Cricinfo staff

Bangladesh's coach, Jamie Siddons, is determined to keep the expectations on his young team to an absolute minimum, as they build towards a daunting Test series in England's unfamiliar early-season conditions.

The Bangladesh squad slipped into the country with no fanfare whatsoever late last week, following their group-stage elimination from the World Twenty20 in the Caribbean, and on Tuesday they completed a draw in their opening three-day fixture against Surrey at a chilly Oval. But despite their spirited showing against England in home conditions in March, Siddons knows that the forthcoming tour will be a step into the unknown for the majority of the players in the party.

"This is a very tough tour," said Siddons. "The cold over here is ridiculous, and coming from 36 degree heat to that [at The Oval], they found it hard. It's a tough time of year for anyone to cope with the weather, let alone guys used to 36 degrees. It's tricky to find the motivation to go out there, and to get the body going."

Bangladesh acclimatised reasonably well against a weakened Surrey opposition. Jahurul Islam pencilled himself into the Test side with an impressive 159, and the perpetually frustrating Mohammad Ashraful found some timely form with 89 from 141 balls. But the final day of the fixture was one-way traffic as Usman Afzaal carried Surrey to 313 for 3 declared in their second innings, and Siddons admitted that his team would be "smashed" if they didn't learn quickly about bowling in English conditions.

"We spoke about it beforehand, but our bowlers bowled a bit short," said Siddons. "We tried to bang it in and get wickets instead of being patient, and at our pace we can't afford to try to chase wickets, we have to wait for them to make a mistake. All of the boys were pretty excited, both indoors and outdoors, about the swing that's available over here, so I'm not sure why they tried to bang it in."

With further warm-ups against Essex and England Lions to follow, Bangladesh have time enough to tighten their lines and lengths, but despite the encouraging efforts of Jahurul and Ashraful, it is their batting that will be the cause for greatest concern come the Tests - especially given that their star opener, Tamim Iqbal, is struggling to prove his fitness after a wrist injury that limited his participation in the World Twenty20 to a single ineffective appearance against Pakistan.

Tamim is due to visit a London specialist on Wednesday, but if, as Siddons fears, the prognosis is not good, he is likely to be sent home to make room for a replacement opener. And if that happens, the focus will shift ever more squarely onto the senior batsman Ashraful, who missed England's recent visit due to a debilitating loss of form. With a Test average of 22.78 from 53 Tests, his underachievement is plain to see, and Siddons admits he is at a loss to explain Ashraful's failure to develop from the teenage wonder-boy of a decade ago.

"I've given up thinking it's his attitude," said Siddons. "He's always trying, but he gets impatient too easily, and tries to slog the ball when there's an easy single on offer. He always comes back [to the dressing-room] saying 'sorry, sorry', but that's not an answer. We're going to play seven batsmen, so he'll fit in somewhere, but in 30 out of 31 innings, he'll fail, and that's not good stats.

"But I definitely won't put expectations on him," Siddons added. "Right now, he's No. 4 or 5 in terms of contributions - Tamim, Mushfiqur [Rahim], Shakib [Al Hasan] and [Mahmudullah] Riyad are all contributing way more than him, so I'll expect them to carry the burden, and we'll take from Ash whatever he gives us. But we've got young kids like Jahurul who should be allowed to come in at No. 5 and 6, they shouldn't have to go in early to protect the senior guys. My thoughts are that if the senior player is not good enough you don't give them a game, you bring some kids in."

When Bangladesh last toured England in 2005, they were cruelly exposed on seam-friendly wickets by a motivated opposition with their focus squarely on the forthcoming Ashes series. Siddons is hopeful that his team can put up a better fight than their counterparts from that trip, but he's realistic enough to recognise that there's still a yawning gulf between the teams.

"We can't look at beating the best teams in the world," he said. "We can't expect to knock them over - if they play at their best and we play at our best, everything says that they will win, but if we play well and they play really badly, then yes, we'll beat them. The pitches won't be green with grass knee high, because it's a Test match, but all it takes is seven bad shots or seven good balls, and all your batters are gone."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on May 17, 2010, 17:19 GMT

    I will quote a comment from Sanjay Manjrekar, who made the comment in this year's ICC world cup T20 about Ashraful. 'It seems that Ashraful's mind and body only works together for 15 - 20 mins and after that they go there separate ways'......What Ash needs is a psychiatrist, someone to look into his head and understand what is it that he is doing wrong.........

  • Saleh on May 17, 2010, 15:46 GMT

    We have young kids (20-23 year olds) burdened with expectations of 150 million people. Some how, the fright of letting so many people down and being clobbered mercilessly for failings is at the heart of our team's failings. Add to that the fact that people who have been selected for their raw talent are not necessarily the best at handling pressures.

    Perhaps the antidote is that media should back off and not allow winning or losing appear to be such a big deal. The kids will play more naturally and do better when pressure is let off.

  • roket on May 16, 2010, 18:40 GMT

    We, as a nation, have got to get away from player worshipping, and look at numbers. In the history of cricket, apart from us Bangladeshis, no one has ever argued for a batsman based on 2 to 3 match winning performance. Cricket is a game of statistics, and greatness is measured by averages and strike rates, not 3 match winning performance in a 10 year career. Ash got lucky during his innings in Cardiff against Australia, or against SA during super eight. When you play 159 matches, and have a decent score in 5 of them, it is a statistical anomaly, specially considering your average is below 24. I would feel ashamed to argue about anyone being world class if their average is below 35 in ODIs. Even worse is the fact that Ash averages less than his ODI avg in tests, and he has played over 100 Test innings. He has had his chances in world cricket, and failed miserably, and his berage is falling! Let Tamim, shakib and Musfique be the torch bearers for BD, not Ash.

  • Dummy4 on May 15, 2010, 8:58 GMT

    Openers should be between Tamim, imrul, shamsur rahman(now he has potential) and junaid. Then theres jahurul, ashraful after that we have Raqibul (is he still on a ban), then our aces mahmadullah mushfiq and shakib. Naeem is ok but still sometimes he can play good otherwise as much as i like him he's bad. We also have too many all rounders

  • htaed on May 14, 2010, 14:19 GMT

    Give Siddons a break you cant blame him for Ash's performance

  • Dummy4 on May 14, 2010, 13:02 GMT

    But we have to confess the truth that still there is no replacement of ASH in tigers. He is the most talented player of BD cricket ever. We have to admit this. The problem of ASH is, he doesn't find any good motivator beside him, not even the team coach. Only Khaled Mahmud the assistant coach of tigers helps him to play n motivates as well. Jammie is a real useless coach for BD team. He is keeping himself in safer side, as he isnt working with senior players. because, he found that its not so easy to blame senior players but if you recruit more and more youngsters you can save your back by saying that they are inexperienced, give us 4-5 years to grow up. so that, he can earn god amount of money as salary until wc2011 without any tension. We people are so fool that we can't realize this fact!! and this foolish coach is always blaming our ASH rather motivation him after a good knock! Alas!!!BCB is so dumb that they couldn't realize this fact till now!

  • sanin on May 13, 2010, 18:07 GMT

    good luck bangladesh!!. ................

  • golam mohammad on May 13, 2010, 15:00 GMT

    i know the straight-forward comments from siddons are harsh on ashraful, but this is reality. ashraful's batting average in all test series from 2008 is Bangladesh is

    New Zealand Test Series, 2007/08-- 14.75 South Africa in Bangladesh Test Series, 2007/08-- 15.50 New Zealand in Bangladesh Test Series, 2008/09-- 0.66 Bangladesh in South Africa Test Series, 2008/09-- 9.00 Sri Lanka in Bangladesh Test Series, 2008/09-- 41.25 Bangladesh in West Indies Test Series, 2009-- 6.00 India in Bangladesh Test Series, 2009/10-- 23.25 Bangladesh in New Zealand Test Match, 2009/10-- 7.00

    if he had an batting average of 35 (mushfiq, tamim, shakib, riyadh, junaid scored at 30-35), bangladesh could had lot better results.

    you saw the terrible improvising shots he played against pakistan in the group match of T20 WC? he could get out at least 7 times that day trying nonsense shots! and he scored most with genuine-traditional cricket shots!

  • Kabir on May 13, 2010, 14:57 GMT

    In describing Ashraful's characteristics Jamie Siddons is too polite to use Intikab Alam's recent description of the Pakistani Cricket team!

  • Monjur on May 13, 2010, 7:57 GMT

    I am totally agree with Siddons. In the interview siddons was very straight with his words and was very honest. The problem with Ashraful is that he thinks himself as one of the biggest stars of sub continent cricket. When I watch Bangladesh matches i always find him doing some act in the field. If he drop catches than Ash start showing reply in the field rather concentrating on the game. If he was a real professional than he should have reacted on Siddons word in the match against Australia.

    Look at Mashrafee....He was drop from the team with so many issue but he dint say a single thing and tried to improve his performance. He came back from IPL and performed in PCL. this not only helped him for a come back in national side rather he showed his class.

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