England v Bangladesh, 2nd Test, Chester-le-Street June 3, 2005

England show the killer touch



Michael Vaughan was ruthless on the opening day as he aims for a swift finish © Getty Images
Four miles south of Chester-le-Street, tucked behind a roundabout on the unlovely A167, there is a little hamlet called "Pity Me". It is not the location of the Bangladesh team hotel - they are currently ensconced in the rather grander Redworth Hall, near Bishop Auckland - but after today's performance, it would make a far more apt HQ.

The sad truth of today's performance is that Bangladesh played perhaps as well as could reasonably have been expected, and yet ended the day in an even more pitiful position than they had done at Lord's. In terms of the scorecard, the parallels between this Test and the last were writ large - Bangladesh mustered 108 in 38.2 overs then, 104 in 39.5 now, and conceded 188 for 1 and 269 for 3 respectively. But in terms of application, their efforts were streets apart.

First things first. England bowled superbly. As the old cliché goes, you can only beat the opposition put in front of you, and so Steve Harmison was rightly bashful about his achievement of taking 5 for 38 in 12.5 overs. But his new-ball spell, coupled with Simon Jones's incisive spell of pacy swing, would have given any team in the world at least something to think about. It should not have been a 66 for 5 performance - few are - but it forced the Bangladeshis to go down fighting, which was a vast improvement on their meek surrender last week.

Of the top seven, only one man - Nafees Iqbal - was truly guilty of the sort of loose waft that scuppered the first Test. Habibul Bashar was detonated from the crease by a 90mph yorker; Mohammad Ashraful received an unplayable delivery from Jones, and their grittiest performer of the day, Javed Omar, was sawn off by one of those leg-side tickles that can happen to any player.

As for Aftab Ahmed, he had attracted considerable criticism for his gung-ho approach at Lord's (20 from 14 balls in the first innings), but this time around he was such a reformed character that he took 22 balls to get off the mark. Admittedly, he soon spoilt the impression by falling in a familiar fashion, but he had at least shown a semblance of stickability.

Nevertheless, the facts of the performance are clear. After three innings of this series, only six out of 13 Bangladeshis have even reached a double-figure score. Twenty-three of the 33 innings played have resulted in scores between 0 and 9, and the gulf between the teams in this series is wider than any gulf between Bangladesh and their opposition since Dav Whatmore took over after the 2003 World Cup.

England promised a ruthless approach in this Test, and by God have they delivered. After a spurious start to their batting effort, in which the ever-excellent Mashrafe Mortaza repeatedly beat the bat and finally gained the wicket of Andrew Strauss, it was the arrival of Michael Vaughan that sparked the fireworks. He has a clear agenda this weekend. The Australians arrive on Sunday morning, and Vaughan wants them to be greeted by banner headlines proclaiming England's cut-throat intent.

In seven balls after tea, Vaughan took it upon himself to demolish Bangladesh's morale, cracking four fours all around the park, and stirring Trescothick to enter into his favoured one-day mode. It was powerful and portentous stuff, and there was no pity in the performance whatsoever.

A two-day defeat now seems inevitable, and the clamour for Bangladesh's removal from Test cricket will grow ever louder. For various political and prestige reasons, that will never happen, although there is an alternative solution that the ICC might want to examine. If the only incentive for Bangladesh's opposition is to win the game as quickly as possible, then the notion of a three or four-day Test ought to be considered. Before they can learn to win, Bangladesh must first learn not to lose, and to achieve that against sides as brim-full of professional intent as England, the bar must be lowered

Andrew Miller is assistant editor of Cricinfo