At Lord's, May 26, 27, 28. England won by an innings and 261 runs. Toss: England. Test debuts: Mushfiqur Rahim, Shahadat Hossain.
It had all the trappings of a Lord's Test. The jazz band was in top form under the trees beyond the Grace Gates, the members mingled happily in the splendidly refurbished pavilion, and hordes of schoolchildren brought an exuberant atmosphere to a decent-sized crowd. Even the Bedser twins were there for their customary prelunch pint in the Bowlers' Bar.
Only the cricket failed to match the occasion. Hoggard and Harmison took a bit longer than John Barnes's Outswingers to hit the right notes, donating nine no-balls in as many overs. But once they, too, were in the swing of things, it became perfectly obvious that Bangladesh's batsmen were completely out of their depth in their first Test in English conditions. "And to think," sighed Sir Alec Bedser, "every one of those wickets is worth the same as Bradman's in the record books."
He had a point. Test matches, as their name implies, should be a true test of cricketing ability; this was no test at all for an England team who had climbed to second in the world rankings and were preparing for the toughest examination of all, against Australia. Vaughan, the England captain, said diplomatically: "The players don't set out the schedules, that's up to the International Cricket Council. We can only beat what's put in front of us." And beat them they duly did, by noon on the third day, forcing MCC to give the deprived spectators a 50% refund.
They were lucky that the match lasted that long, because it was effectively decided inside a session and a half on the opening day. Javed Omar applied himself diligently to top-score with 22, Aftab Ahmed blazed five fours in a defiant 14-ball 20, and the diminutive Mushfiqur Rahim, making his debut at the age of 16, battled it out for 85 minutes, but Bangladesh were still bowled out for 108 inside 39 overs.
The only question then was how long England wanted to bat against an attack offering little more than glorified practice. The answer turned out to be 112 overs, from which they scored 528 for three. Trescothick, averaging 16 in the County Championship, and Vaughan, averaging 24, both helped themselves to centuries; Vaughan's was his third in successive Test innings at Lord's. Strauss scored 69, something of a comedown after hundreds in his first Tests against New Zealand, West Indies and South Africa. There was more interest, however, in the performances of Bell, in his second Test, and Thorpe, who was in his 99th but signalled that his international career was coming to an end when he announced that he would play and coach in New South Wales during the winter.
Bell confirmed the technique and temperament he had shown on his debut against West Indies the previous summer, with an unbeaten 65; Thorpe was aiming to show he had the appetite to do battle against Australia one more time. They had shared an unbroken partnership of 113 when Vaughan decided enough was enough, denying the crowd the chance of seeing something more spectacular from Flintoff. All four principal bowlers had conceded centuries, newcomer Shahadat Hossain in just 12 overs.
England led by 420, and the prospect of the fifth two-day Test since the Second World War was looming when Bangladesh resumed. But Omar's defence and Aftab's flashing blade got them into a third day, and a spirited ninth-wicket stand of 58 between Khaled Mashud and Anwar Hossain Monir delayed England slightly longer than expected. Not that it mattered. The second-biggest victory in any Lord's Test (behind England's innings and 285-run win over India in 1974) had been so undemanding that, within an hour, England coach Duncan Fletcher had his players back in the middle for fielding practice: naughty-boy nets in reverse.
Man of the Match: M. E. Trescothick.