Bangladesh v England, 1st Test, Dhaka, 2nd day October 22, 2003

The Barmy Army has landed

They seemed to be missing on the first day ..



The Barmy Army's expeditionary force has landed in all its dubious glory
© Getty Images


Two days in, and Test-match fever still hasn't quite taken hold in Dhaka. But it is early on a Wednesday morning, and judging by the enthusiasm of the smattering of fans who have made it for the first session, several thousand more can be expected before the day is out. They sit camped beneath the awnings on the upper tiers of the Bangabandhu Stadium, shaded from the heat of another hazy day and cheering every run as if it might be their last (which, on occasions in an attritional session, it appeared it might well be).

Their enthusiasm will have been fuelled by the arrival of the opposition. There had been one or two sightings in the earlier weeks of the tour, but now there can be no doubt. The Barmy Army's expeditionary force has landed in all its dubious glory, 100-strong and camped out in the executive boxes to the right of the pavilion, with its trademark banners and flags unfurled and draped over the balconies.

Sadly there have been no sightings as yet of the Pink Panther and Sylvester, the TV cameras' favourite pantomime cats, and inveterate members of England's travelling fan-base. They had been expected for this match, but perhaps Bangladesh's quarantine laws have been tightened in the meantime.

In the absence of their cheerleaders, and with beer a no-no, the Barmy Army were a mournful mob in the morning session. At one stage they launched into a desultory rendition of "Ashley Giles is the king of spin", although with Gareth Batty grabbing 1 for 10 in his first 10 overs, including a wicket with only his third ball in Test cricket, they may be forced to pen a new ditty tonight.

The Bangladeshi response came from somewhere on the far side of the ground, with what sounded like a one-man band, clattering out a beat with all the rhythm of that one-armed dude from Def Leppard. Nevertheless, his endeavours did the trick for his team, as Khaled Mashud and Mushfiqur Rahman soft-shoe-shuffled their way to lunch without any further mishaps.

Andrew Miller is assistant editor of Wisden Cricinfo. He will be accompanying England throughout their travels in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.