England v Bangladesh, 1st npower Test, Lord's, 5th day May 31, 2010

Strauss and Shakib target improvement


For the third Test in a row, a comfortable margin of victory masked a match in which Bangladesh forced England to graft for their rewards, but the events of the final day were typical of the gulf that still exists in the mindsets of the two nations. While England believed that they'd come good in the end, and ultimately galloped to their goal at a rate of five an over, Bangladesh knew deep down that another disappointment awaited, and the final margin spoke of a familiarly demoralised surrender.

"The facts will be that we won by eight wickets, but we had to work very hard for our win," said England's captain, Andrew Strauss, who sealed the result with a final-day 82. "In some ways we've got to give credit to the way the Bangladeshi batsmen played - in the first innings and the second they held us up with some stubborn resistance and some pretty good strokeplay. We'll be better for this game and the five days we've had, but we're obviously looking to set our standards higher than we achieved in this game."

At times in the game, Bangladesh had the measure of their opponents, and more. When conditions were at their best for batting, in bright sunshine on the second afternoon and again on the fourth day when Tamim Iqbal was blazing through the follow-on, they spanked along to 493 runs in 135 overs, for the loss of five wickets. However, when the sun disappeared - into the clouds on the third and fifth days, and over the horizon when the new ball was taken on the fourth evening - they mustered figures of 15 for 171 in 68.2.

"They are definitely getting closer because more of their batsmen have the belief they can get decent scores," said Strauss. "But, like most sides, if you keep chipping away and pressurising them, eventually you will see a collapse of some sort, and on both day three and five when the conditions suited us, we were able to take wickets quite frequently."

"It's a bit frustrating but we know that we are improving," said Bangladesh's captain, Shakib Al Hasan. "When it was overcast the ball was doing a bit, but we didn't apply ourselves for long periods of time, and that cost us the game. We thought we'd have a good chance to draw if we batted more than 50 overs, but then I got out, and our tailenders couldn't get enough runs. It's always frustrating when you lose, but we can take so many positives out of this game. There are so many negative things as well, and we need to learn from them and improve."

After lighting up Lord's with a thrilling hundred on Sunday, Tamim claimed to have been inspired by some scathing remarks from Geoffrey Boycott, who had argued on Test Match Special that Bangladesh's attack was not worthy of Minor Counties cricket. It was a charge he repeated, with some justification, as England amassed 160 runs in a single session to wrap up the result, and afterwards Shakib admitted that his bowlers were struggling to compete on equal terms.

"We know we will win some games if we win sessions, day by day, but we need to improve our bowling, especially in these conditions," he said. "At home we can depend on our spinners, but here we have to depend on our fast bowlers, so they need to learn quickly. As far as our batting is concerned, that was our best game against England, but we didn't bowl in the right areas, and that was the main problem. Any team that scores 700-plus in a match makes it difficult for us to win."

We probably didn't hit our straps in the first innings, though we got better as the game went on and the pitch got flatter, and that was encouraging
Andrew Strauss wants his attack to improve on their Lord's show

The extent to which the conditions dictated terms doesn't exactly bode well for Bangladesh's prospects ahead of the Old Trafford Test, where the weather tends towards the damper side of mild, and where the pitch promises to be hard and fast. But England themselves should be equally concerned by the ramifications. They can't expect such prodigious assistance from the heavens in Perth and Adelaide this winter, and the question of whether to go in with four bowlers or five is one that will remain a hot topic for the remainder of this summer.

"It was hard work for our bowlers," admitted Strauss. "We probably didn't hit our straps in the first innings, though we got better as the game went on and the pitch got flatter, and that was encouraging. We've always said we'll judge whether we need four bowlers or five depending on the conditions we're likely to encounter. We probably felt on this wicket there'd be more in it than there was, early season, but we'll keep looking on a case-by-case basis."

One factor that should not be overlooked was the unusually subdued performance from Graeme Swann, England's Player of the Year and the No. 2-ranked bowler in the world. He went wicketless for the first time since the Headingley Test during last summer's Ashes, and has never before returned a barren analysis in a Test in which England have claimed 20 wickets.

"You've always got to judge your attack that on the conditions you're likely to encounter," Strauss said. "Sometimes you want four extra bowlers when a partnership develops but you can't have them. But I think what the bowlers did well was that they stuck at their task very well. At times they had to change their plans and dig it in short, while Graeme Swann didn't have a huge role to play because there was no turn at all. On most wickets he's going to be more threatening than on this one."

On the subject of Tamim, who has now helped himself to 395 runs in three Tests against England, at a remarkable strike-rate of 83.33, Strauss was cautiously appreciative. "He's a dangerous player because he hits length balls straight and very hard, and he goes after the short balls as well," he said. "Some of the orthodox fields you might employ are rendered slightly redundant at times, but there's no secret to bowling well at any player. If you're hitting the top of off as often as possible he's going to struggle, especially with the ball nipping around."

With that in mind, Strauss was grateful for the influence of Steven Finn, who marked his home Test debut with Man of the Match figures of 9 for 187, and had all of the Bangladesh batsmen flinching at the accuracy he generated from his 6'7" frame. "There wasn't a lot there for our bowlers, and the lines and lengths he hit were encouraging," said Strauss. "He's obviously got some great attributes, his height and a pretty clean action, and early in your career it's fantastic to get wickets and show you belong at this level, which he has done."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dre on June 3, 2010, 13:23 GMT

    @Rezaul, u accuse us of having a mental problem but it seems as if you can't read...I never said that Bang should not play tests I will quote myself again hoping u will read properly: "...ensure that whenever Bang TOUR, make sure they play at least 4 WARM-UP matches against A teams or TOP club teams from the other test nations..." The word "tour" obviously means test + ODI series overseas and if you don't understand the concept of "warm-up matches," there is no hope for u. I don't mind u not reading properly but what's silly is that u attempt to be a bit rude about it. Any1 who reads the comments regularly will know that I don't support removing test status from Bang, I suggest u chill and stop being hasty and loose with u'r comments.

  • Billy on June 3, 2010, 1:42 GMT

    Forget the talk of England's team being made up of foreigners. The fact is, this is the team that they have and let's get on with it. The more interesting point is that with the team that they do have, they should be doing much better. One Ashes victory and T20 world cup does not a champion side make. England should be aiming a lot higher, and should have closed out South Africa for a well earnt series victory, be thrasing Bangladesh both home and away (which they have failed to do), and beaten India in India (let's face it, India chased 400 and shouldn't have got there with 6 wickets left). The results so far for England could have been so so much better.

  • abdul on June 3, 2010, 1:37 GMT

    @YorkshirePudding...and your point is? should I correct myself and say, most accomplished players of England team are foreign born and brought up? This year they won the t20 with help of KP who was the player of the tournament. Look, my point is English fan and commentators are always harsh on developing countries. I could understand if England was the best team in the world. They had to work very hard in the last 3 test matches they played against Bangladesh. My point is they should earn their right to pick on emerging teams, otherwise it might just come back to bite them back.

  • Rezaul on June 2, 2010, 23:29 GMT

    @_NEUTRAL_Fan_ and others, I have written in couple of other discussions that you dont have any cricket knowledge. You guys argue for IRE test status, at the same time argue not to play tests against Bangladesh, dont like Bangladesh plays good cricket. You guys have a mental problem with Bangladesh making more and more progress in the direction of a good test team. Tamim, Junaide, Shakib, Mahmudullah, Mushfiq all are top class players. Bangladesh do not depend on any paid player who came from other country for money. These players are born in Bangladesh and play for the green and red flag. When Tamim scored century, you guys are looking for his problems and criticizing in stead of applauding him. wow English wow... keep ur style up...

    <Arzoo from USA>

  • Dummy4 on June 2, 2010, 21:04 GMT

    After 25 yers Bangladesh should get a chance to play five day test match. ICC should not allow Bangladesh to play 5 day test match. If you hard the commintry of David Loyed you all should be ashemed. English batsman has to walk on the pitch to adjust the pace of our bowlers and spinner speed was not reg. on the speed gun. they were that slow. If you could not get 20 wicket in test match you should'nt b qualify for the 5 day test.

  • Jason on June 2, 2010, 19:14 GMT

    @Hironno, there are actually only 2 players in the England Test Squad that are foreign born and brought up, these are KP and Trott. To my knowledge this is not Most of the team. Even if you include Morgan in that list that is still only 3 out of 11 players so again hardly most. If you include Strauss (moved to the uk at 6), and Prior (moved to the uk at 11) then you are mistaken, both these players learnt thier cricket in England. Morgan also learnt a significant portion of his cricket in the UK, and came through the county system. In the wings there are a number of english born players in the wings, these include Adam Lyth, Adil Rashid, James Taylor, Woakes, Steven Davies (FYI hes above Keiswetter in the pecking order), Andy Gale, Shahzad, as well as others, all these are English born, and raised. Before you post please look beyond what you see in the media.

  • Sharad on June 2, 2010, 18:35 GMT

    @_NEUTRAL_Fan_: I don't know what you mean by bat longer. If it is the no of balls per innings Tamim's figure is 65.76 as opposed to Til Dil's 60.26 and Sehwag's 63.64. Also, Tamim's just at the beginning of his career, so he has a big learning curve ahead of him. He rarely plays with terrific players (eg., Dravid or Mahela) at the other end, people who can talk to him during his innings on how to pace it or even calm him a bit or better yet take burden off of him. Give the lad some time to develop.

  • Dummy4 on June 2, 2010, 15:42 GMT

    I'd say forget test cricket concentrate on 20/20

  • abdul on June 2, 2010, 13:07 GMT

    Most players in England team are foreign born and brought up. England couldn't win a major worl tournament untill this years t20 world cup when players like Kevin Pietersen and EEoin Morgan helped them along. I dont know where all these bid words come from about a team that is rapidly developing its game with a huge fan base> Bangladesh is emerging on its own and will start winning in big stage soon unlike England which is totally depended on naturalised citizens.

  • Dre on June 2, 2010, 10:57 GMT

    Oh and on Tamim, he has got ability but he needs to learn to bat longer. Every so often he plays a crap shot. He needs to cut that out. I see some1 else sharing my thoughts that while he should play his natural game, Bang unlike Sri Lanka n Ind who have Dilshan n Sehwag cannot afford him to get out and even the latter 2 do bat longer.

  • No featured comments at the moment.