|Photos||Video & Audio||Blogs||Statistics||Archive||Shop||Mobile|
At Lord's, May 27-31, 2010. England won by eight wickets. Toss: Bangladesh. Test debuts: E.J.G. Morgan; Robiul Islam.
Last time Bangladesh visited Lord's, England sauntered home with indecent ease in little more than two days. Five years on, the getting of this victory was rather different. True, the weather pilfered around two sessions on the third day, but this Test intrigued until tea on the fifth. In 2005, Bangladesh lost all 20 wickets inside 80 overs; now they frustrated England for more than 200. There were perhaps five sessions, on the Friday and Sunday, when the visitors competed on equal terms; and in Tamim Iqbal's coruscating second-innings hundred, they provided the most joyous and entertaining moments of a genuine scrap, a Test in reality, not just name.
Yet Bangladesh's negativity, stemming from 57 defeats in 66 Tests, meant they never posed a potent threat. They were either too defensive in the field or recklessly attacking at the crease. Yes, the electrifying Tamim had a licence to thrill at the top of the order, but the others should have knuckled down to save the match. The defeatist mentality seeped into Shakib Al Hasan's field placings for all but the first hour: even as Eoin Morgan faced his first ball in Tests at an uncertain 258 for four, Shakib preferred to people the boundary rather than apply pressure through close catchers. A dab to leg and Morgan was away. And in both innings, the Bangladeshis suffered the failure of what might be called their "muddle" order: Mahmudullah, for example, was either all caution - distrusting the seemingly sound Rubel Hossain and spurning single after single - or all attack, smearing across the line to bring the second innings to a crass end moments before lunch on the last day. Bangladesh's one hope of gaining a draw lay in denying England time for their runchase; losing the two-over break between innings could yet have been crucial. As it was, England had two full sessions to make 160.
Defeat was hard on the top four, who contributed 75% of the runs from Bangladeshi bats. Twice they engineered a position from which a draw was possible, reaching 179 for two in the first innings and 289 for two in the second. On a blameless pitch against a largely ordinary attack, those foundations should have produced substantial totals. But 282 could not prevent the follow-on, nor could 382 set an adequate target.
When Cook fell lbw in the game's fifth over, he scowled as darkly as the skies that prompted Shakib to field. Hawk-Eye suggested the ball was high (just as it did when umpire de Silva again gave Cook lbw in the second innings), but without the umpires' Decision Review System - BSkyB and the ICC each said the other should foot the bill - there could be no reprieve. Within an hour the clouds lifted, the ball lost all lateral movement, Shakib adopted defensive mode, and England made hay. Strauss, in his first Test for four months, eased into the runs before gloving a ball from Mahmudullah. Umpire Bowden missed the contact but, concentration broken, Strauss chopped on next ball.
Concentration was not an issue for Trott. After a lean winter, he dug in, almost literally: his focusing routine involved taking guard so frequently and scoring his boot down the line of leg stump so vigorously that a canyon opened up in front of him. However infuriating his method, it worked. Characteristically strong on the leg, Trott now scored more heavily on the off, unleashing a flurry of drives through extra cover, some of exquisite timing; his 226 from 349 balls included 20 fours.
The other England batsmen hardly shone. Pietersen looked as if, mentally, he was still in the Caribbean, where 11 days earlier he had powered England to the World Twenty20 title. The decision to rest England's triumphant captain Paul Collingwood (nominally to nurse a sore right shoulder) allowed Morgan, Dublin-born but four years a Middlesex player, to make his Test debut at his adopted home. Just as he appeared to have made the considerable readjustment - from a Twenty20 against Australia to a Test against Bangladesh - he fell to a one-day open-faced push, giving the persevering Shahadat Hossain the second of five wickets. England were eventually dismissed for 505: useful, though on this generous pitch far from dominant. Without Trott, they would have been embarrassed.
Tamim took a shine to Bresnan, walloping him for seven of his eight fours, before Pietersen's fluid pick-up-and-throw from point silenced the artillery. Bresnan was still in one-day mode, angling the ball in from wide of the crease. Anderson, a paid spectator in the West Indies, was anodyne; so was the 6ft 7in Steve Finn, playing on his home ground instead of the rested Stuart Broad, until he switched to his preferred Pavilion End and wrested life from the wicket. Even so, Bangladesh ended the second day on 172 for two.
When play belatedly started on the Saturday, at 3.20, conditions were heaven-sent for swing. Anderson regained his misplaced inswinger to the left-hander, while Bresnan, despite a sore left foot, found some rhythm. The light, though, was crepuscular, stopping play three times in successive overs as clouds scudded across St John's Wood. Maximising play was laudable, but Mushfiqur Rahim, cleaned up in conditions wholly unsuitable for batting, was the loser. In tacit admission of their error, the umpires promptly marched the players off.
On television that evening Geoffrey Boycott denounced the Bangladeshi attack as unfit for Test cricket, though Tamim believed the slight levelled at the whole team. Next morning, with the tourists' tail polished off, Strauss enforced the follow-on - and Tamim set about putting the record straight. He reached a ferocious peak against Swann, whom he slog-swept for two sixes in three balls; in between he cracked a four through cover. It was not an infallible innings - acts of such aggression never are - but few ripostes are so eloquent.
Tamim archly said he had formed no opinion of the English bowlers as he was too busy punishing the bad balls. Perhaps, but he punished a few good ones, too, betraying few nerves in tearing through the nineties in four balls, all from Bresnan. He disdainfully hit a length delivery on off stump over mid-on to reach his hundred from 94 balls, Bangladesh's fastest Test century (and the quickest at Lord's since India's Mohammad Azharuddin needed just 88 in 1990). In celebration, Tamim ebulliently gestured for the sign-writer to start work on the honours board.
Imrul Kayes, his opening partner, could also smile. No Test opener had gone longer without reaching 50, but now, in his 24th innings, he made it; their 185 was Bangladesh's best for the first wicket. With determined support from Junaid Siddique and Jahurul Islam (Trott's first Test victim), Bangladesh reached 328 for five by the fourth evening. Without Finn, whose bounce, accuracy and hostility lifted him head and shoulders above his colleagues, taking him to a maiden Test five-for and nine in the match, the draw might have been inescapable.
The fight, though, was draining from Bangladesh. They battled next morning against tighter bowling, but once the breach was made the end was quick and, in Mahmudullah's mow, ugly. A bank holiday crowd of almost 10,000 had queued patiently, partly to see the denouement, and partly to perambulate on the Lord's outfield, which for the first time in more than a generation became terra legitima during a Test-match lunch interval. MCC chief executive Keith Bradshaw rightly basked in widespread approbation.
There was another piece of eminent good sense before the finish. A target of 160 in two sessions left no doubt about an England victory, though there was doubt about when it would arrive - especially once Pietersen, scores level, dead-batted the last scheduled over before tea. Would the umpires really lead the players off for 20 minutes? Mercifully, pragmatism won the day - and Trott, next ball, the Test.
Man of the Match: S. T. Finn.
Close of play: First day, England 362-4 (Trott 175, Morgan 40); Second day, Bangladesh 172-2 (Junaid Siddique 53, Jahurul Islam 16); Third day, Bangladesh 237-7 (Mahmudullah 7, Shahadat Hossain 3); Fourth day, Bangladesh 328-5 (Junaid Siddique 66, Shakib Al Hasan 2).