England v Bangladesh, 1st npower Test, Lord's, 2nd day May 28, 2010

Shahadat ends bitter Lord's memories


On this very day five years ago, Bangladesh were subjected to one of the most comprehensive drubbings ever witnessed in the history of Test cricket. The final margin, an innings and 261 runs, was vast even on paper - at the time, it was England's third-largest victory, and their best for more than 30 years - but the manner in which it was delivered, and the message it sent to the watching world, was of even greater significance.

From Bangladesh's first-day dismissal for 108, via Marcus Trescothick's uncompromising 194, and through to the second-innings shredding for 159, the entire contest was wrapped up inside seven sessions, as indeed was the second Test at Chester-le-Street. And at the end of it all, Michael Vaughan's damning verdict - as his team's thoughts shifted towards a seismic tussle with Australia - was that the whole contest had simply been too easy.

Five years on, and England's planning is once again being geared towards the Ashes, but on this lacklustre evidence, it's just as well that Brisbane is still some six months in the distance. All throughout their recent tour of Bangladesh, England's bowlers kept themselves sane on the flattest of shirt-fronts by dreaming of the green, green grass of home. The wars of attrition at Chittagong and Mirpur would be long forgotten, they assumed, once they located the seam and swing of England's early-season surfaces.

And yet, England failed to acknowledge the tenacity of a team with a far greater incentive to raise their game to untouched heights, and for Shahadat Hossain, one of three survivors from the 2005 chastising, redemption was achieved on his return to the hallowed turf. Shahadat had made his Test debut in that game, a thrusting teenager with a penchant for the bouncer and a grunt at delivery to rival Monica Seles. His inclusion was intended to apply some menace to a powder-puff attack, but his hideous analysis of 12-0-101-0 told the tale of a rookie overawed.

Today, however, Shahadat returned older and 26 Tests wiser, and made it his mission to atone for those shortcomings. His reward was a place on the dressing-room honours board - the first Bangladeshi ever to achieve such a feat. But more importantly, the verve and impetus he injected into his own performance provided his team with the inspiration that had been so sorely lacking on that last infamous visit. The net result was the best day that Bangladesh has ever produced in a Test against England, and for a sceptical audience, definitive proof of the strides they have taken in their development.

"I am very happy today," said Shahadat. "My name is on the board, and it's the first time in Bangladesh cricket so it's a big thing for me. After my debut, I never thought I would get a second chance to come here to Lord's, but I always said that, if I did, I would try to make up for it. That time Trescothick and [Andrew] Strauss hit me everywhere, but this time I just tried to forget it. I bowled line and length with a bit of swing, and nothing else."

From the moment Shahadat found his range in a purposeful second spell, Bangladesh's collective approach was of the up-and-at-'em variety. They claimed six wickets for 143 to rob England of their right to declare, and if Tamim Iqbal's initial flurry of bat-swishes crossed the line between bold and reckless, it nevertheless got the close fielders out of his eyeline, and encouraged his more timid partner, Imrul Kayes, to knuckle down alongside him.

In Chittagong, Kayes had been badly found out by the short ball, and in 22 previous Test innings, his highest score had been 33. He may never be the answer to his team's top-order needs - and a lifter from Steven Finn eventually did for him in the pre-ordained manner - but not before he had compiled a calm 99-ball 43. Perhaps the fierce blow to the helmet he took at short leg helped to steel his mindset, but either way, to produce his Test best on the biggest stage he's yet played was a credit to his growing tenacity.

"We saw them bat like that in Chittagong and Dhaka earlier in the year," said Finn, who took a phlegmatic view of his first day's work in an England home Test . "They're a developing team who are getting better game-by-game. They have players who are dangerous, and it's important we don't take them lightly. We need to treat them with respect and have to be able to build dots against them, because we're not just going to be able to blast them away; we have to build pressure, which will in turn get us wickets."

But playing the waiting game will only get a team so far - a bit of intent is needed as well, and to that end, the performance of Jonathan Trott was instructive. Admirably though he performed in notching up a career-best 226, he also batted with a lack of ambition, especially after reaching his maiden double-century. While the ability to bore a team to death is not something to be underestimated, Trott's default setting was ponderous, and his mood permeated the collective performance.

It doesn't exactly amount to a scientific study, but of the 36 individual scores in Test history that fall in the range of 220 to 230, Trott's tally of 20 fours is the second lowest boundary-count after that renowned barnacle, Bobby Simpson, way back in 1966 (and Simpson even hit a six to offset his 18 fours). Perhaps it's too easy to get carried away with boundaries in the Twenty20 era, but the England of 2005 set about putting all opponents, Bangladesh included, in their place. And they weren't even Twenty20 champions back then.

"The last time we were here, the wicket was grassy, and England had one of the best bowling attacks ever," said Shahadat. "Harmison, Jones, Flintoff ... their bowling was very fast, and the conditions were very hostile. Everyone tried their best, but the ball was swinging so much and they bowled very well."

The veteran said it best. Compared to what he and his team-mates were put through five years ago, the reception that Bangladesh have received this time around has been tame in the extreme. The gap between the sides may have shrunk in the intervening years, but that's all the more reason for England to raise their game, rather than go through the motions.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • StJohn on May 29, 2010, 14:01 GMT

    This article's a bit harsh on Trott, who scored a lot of runs at a good tempo. And 505 all out at 4 an over is good, even if not as good as in May 2005 (528-3 dec at 4.71 an over). The lack of lustre is really in England's bowling attack, which continues to look a bit average on surfaces that don't do a lot. I'm afraid I can't see Bresnan, Anderson, Finn and Swann taking 20 wkts regularly, especially against better sides, unless the wicket is a bowler's dream. In 2005, England had an excellent pace unit, but since then, spin aside, the bowling generally looks less threatening. To achieve best in the world status, England need to find a magic or mystery factor in their bowling - to an extent Swann has provided this in the last year or so, but the only other bowler I've seen in recent years who really looked to have the ability to bamboozle top class batsman regularly was Simon Jones. As for Bangladesh, they continue to improve and that's great for them and for cricket.

  • Dummy4 on May 29, 2010, 13:38 GMT

    compared to the previous teams, this Bangladesh team is by far better I've seen in recent years although they still seem to lack that grit and mental toughness which is what takes to win matches...we've a very talented and promising young team who now have the belief in themselves but this very belief sometimes turns into arrogance and complacency which takes the focus and concentration away...no wonder why moments of silliness still costing them matches.

  • Maomudul on May 29, 2010, 12:36 GMT

    Bangladesh played extre-ordinaryly. we must be supported them to play good cricket because they are always young team. Good luck guys

  • Richard on May 29, 2010, 11:51 GMT

    Bangladesh has got some genuine class players, who, when they can start to push teams for a few more sessions per test, will make the team big competition. Those teams in the lower half of the test rankings (including my home of New Zealand) had better watch out and give some serious respect to Bangladesh, soon enough (5 years?) they will surely not only be winning tests but grabbing series wins too. One good genuine strike bowler and they will be very threatening; also exactly what NZ needs to get up from the bottom of the heap.

  • Dummy4 on May 29, 2010, 11:07 GMT

    What utter nonsense. A guy scores a double century at Lords in early season in traditionally bowler friendly conditions, while under speculated pressure for his place in the side (God knows why) while only one other batsman in the side passes 50, and he scores at 4 runs an over while doing it, and still he is criticised. This journalist has clearly sacrificed his credibility to join the anti-non-english-born bandwagon. Trott looks easily the most solid and classy batsman in the side along with Strauss (co-incidentally also born in SA), and small minded biased journalists such as Miller cannot diminish his acumen. Similar in style and demeanor to South Africa's Jacques Kallis, Trott plays with a similar solidity and should be a mainstay in the England side for the next 5-10 years. As long as bigots aren't running the selection panel..

  • goshan on May 29, 2010, 10:37 GMT

    I am a supporter of indian cricket but i observe bangladesh cricket very closely . They look very promising atleast in a few sessions of a test match eventhough they dont produce results . There are more than a minumum number of matches were they almost forced a victory , but some one inthe opposition would play a very extraordinary innings to upset the bangladesh. I can even quote u examples like vettori in a test match or inzamam . In a few months from now u will see bangladesh produce decent results. I am quite sure that this match will atleast end in a draw even if not a victory for bangladesh.

  • Dummy4 on May 29, 2010, 7:06 GMT

    Good to see Bangladesh's performance till yesterday after reading some depressing articles about their cricket. Worse is, I could not argue with the writers as record books are there to back them up. What is so frustrating for people like Jamie Siddons, Bangladeshi players [and me] is, record hardly shows their near win, near draw situation. In several times, they had pushed the opposition in corner, well, if not throughout all playing sessions, atleast at times between sessions. They [me too] know the result, its same again and again.

    I can't be so optimistic that Tigers can turn around this time, may be they will fall apart again at some point, or perhaps they can pull a thrilling draw. what I want from journos and writers is, please recognize our team's potential; and when they push, its not just a fluke, its according to their ability. But still something is lacking somewhere, application? mental block? i don't know.

  • Dummy4 on May 29, 2010, 6:57 GMT

    i can't believe in Bangladesh always the make us fell very bad. they always have soe great opening in the game and then they lost...

  • Dummy4 on May 29, 2010, 6:43 GMT

    all test playing nations should not forget that even they were like bangladesh during their very starting test playing years.it's not so easy to get test status and win or draw series when we are still a young side.only few players played test more than 10 years while our senior players have reached above 35.so selectors shouldn't be blamed to put young side. always youth is power of society.so all people who tell that tiger's test status should be taken away must shut their big mouth after looking tomorrows performance

  • Rajaram on May 29, 2010, 6:13 GMT

    England is very weak in the bowling department - all hype, no substance- good on you, Bangla Desh, to expose their weaknesses.

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