England U-19 v Bangladesh A, Loughborough, 2nd day July 7, 2008

Sanderson shines before the rain

John Ward at Loughborough

Bangladesh A 115 for 4 (Imrul 62, Sanderson 2-20) v England Under-19s

Under-19 cricket does not have the widest of followings in England, as reflect by crowd numbers. Reportedly, even those matches played at major county grounds attract no more than 40 or 50. There were fewer than that at Loughborough today, and quite a portion of those who did attend could be classed as MAGS (Mums and Girlfriends). Loughborough is not the easiest ground in the country for outsiders to find; and a match like today's against Bangladesh A becomes even less relevant when, in addition to its understandable non-first-class status, it is further demeaned by being made 12-a-side and hampered by rain.

Before the start of the match, England A were handicapped by the loss of their captain, Alex Wakely, to a thumb injury. Tom Westley took over the captaincy and Chris Allanson of Yorkshire replaced him in the team. Junaid Siddique captained Bangladesh team, about half of whose players are under 19-years-of-age.

The first day's play was totally washed out after numerous intermittent showers during the day, but there were higher hopes for the second, with rain originally predicted only for after tea. Bangladesh decided to bat on winning the toss.

The most notable features of the day were a good innings of 62 by the tourists' left-handed opener, Imrul Kayes, and two wickets in a spell of good bowling by Ben Sanderson, who has played for Yorkshire this season. The Bangladesh captain scored only 4, opening the batting, but Imrul, despite several edgy strokes through the slips, kept his end up and scored well, with nudges off his body and an unexpected six over long-off.

At number three was Rajin Saleh, who has played 22 Tests, but he was never fluent in his laborious innings of 16. He was the first victim of Sanderson, who bowled a good line, and eventually had him caught at the wicket for 16, groping outside the off stump.

The score at lunch was 102 for 2, but half-an-hour after the break the first bout of rain arrived, and it never let up for long enough for play to resume. That brief period was all to England's advantage: the first ball after the interval had Nadif Chowdhury caught at the wicket for 12, and, less than five minutes before the rain, Imrul gave the wicket-keeper, Ben Brown, his third catch of the innings to date. That brief period brought 13 runs and two wickets.

Besides Sanderson, James Harris of Glamorgan bowled a tight opening spell of nine overs and picked up Junaid's wicket. And had a couple of rather difficult chances not gone down in the field, England might have been even more pleased with their day. As it is, there is only individual honour to play for now, even if the third and final day is dry.