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May 26, 2005
Dav Whatmore could barely conceal his misery at the close of the first day's play at Lord's, after Bangladesh had been taught another harsh lesson of life at the sharp end of Test cricket. "Things couldn't really get much worse," he conceded, after his side were shot out for 108 on the opening morning, before being subjected to a century partnership between Marcus Trescothick and Andrew Strauss.
"I'm loath to take the big stick out after days like these," he continued. "The conditions here were totally different to Bangladesh, so that didn't help given that we were behind the eight-ball after losing the toss. We've just got to continue to learn, because the more experience that players from the subcontinental get over here, the better they get, and that's a fact."
Whatmore conceded that his team's failure on such a grand stage as Lord's made it all the more dispiriting. "Lord's is a fantastic place," he said, "but if others have been inspired by it, then perhaps we were a bit overawed. The support was there, and it's been tremendous from all sections, but we have to guard against our confidence being knocked too much. There's no point in getting emotional, we've just got to put things right."
Bangladesh's naivety was clearly exasperating for their coach, and two men, the captain Habibul Bashar, and Aftab Ahmed, who hit five fours in 14 balls before getting out aiming for a sixth, were particularly culpable. "When he hits the ball, he looks so good," said Whatmore of Aftab. "But if he'd make it 15 boundaries not five, he would have had a good score."
Whatmore did single out one man for special praise, however - the 16-year-old, Mushfiqur Rahim, whose 19 was the longest and classiest knock of their innings. "He's been a class above the others. He played and missed, and got out to a beautiful delivery that hit the top of off, but I've seen enough already to know he's got a good future."
It was England's day through and through, although Strauss quite rightly refused to get carried away about his timely return to form, after a lean period in county cricket. "Everyone goes through these little patches," he said. "From the point of view of England's cricket, it's better it happened earlier rather than later.
"You can never take a Test lightly," he insisted when asked about the challenge posed by Bangladesh. "There was a good crowd - more than we expected - and because it was the first of the series we were all back together for the first time in a while and switched on mentally. It's far too early to draw conclusions, and it would be wrong to write Bangladesh off. Other teams have struggled in swinging conditions."
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