Tension – Day 2 in Dhaka

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We’re only two tests into England’s winter odyssey and I’m already in danger of repeating myself too much. Our batsmen can’t play spin well enough and our bowlers can’t bowl it well enough either. It’s a bit of a problem considering that all we’re going to see in the next two months are dustbowls.

Perhaps I’m being a little unkind. Our batting against spin does seem to have improved a little bit. There’s no way our numbers nine and ten would’ve survived (and then prospered) in arid conditions twenty years ago. However, the bottom line is that we’re still in a hole and making extremely hard work of beating Bangladesh. God help us when we get to India.

Our batsmen failed yet again today. Apart from Joe Root, who made a useful half century, the middle order folded much like the top order did yesterday. Once again it was left to Chris Woakes to show the so called specialists how to bat. His partnership of 99 with Adil Rashid, who I find great fun to watch, saved our blushes.

In the end, our ninth wicket pair even managed to secure a small lead, thanks partly to an extraordinary call by the 3rd umpire, who adjudged that a full toss Woakes creamed straight to midwicket was a no ball. It was never above waist high in a million years.

Although the ball might have been borderline waist high at the point of impact (which was two yards in front of the batsman), Woakes was clearly crouching as he played the shot. The ball was obviously dipping too.

The rule – which the 3rd umpire worryingly didn’t seem to know – is that full tosses should only be called no ball if they’re above waist height at the time the ball passes the batsman’s waist (not when it hits his bat). What’s more, ‘waist high’ refers to a batsman standing up straight.

There was some confusion on Twitter because the MCC laws actually say a full toss needs to be above shoulder high when a spinner’s bowling – something Maxie explained a couple of years ago (it’s still one of the most googled articles on our site). Strangely however – and I have to confess that I didn’t know this – match regulations in test cricket actually supersede the MCC rulebook; therefore it’s waist high for both fast and slow bowlers.

Either way, however, the third umpire was wrong on this occasion. His incompetence cheated the hosts of twenty odd runs which could yet prove to be decisive. This kind of thing really winds me up. If England win by a small margin, some might feel the victory lacks legitimacy. Umpiring mistakes are part and parcel of the game but they shouldn’t be tolerated when a decision goes to review and it’s so clear cut.

Fortunately for Bangladesh, our slender lead didn’t actually matter too much in the end. Tamin and Kayes played splendidly and overcame the 24 runs deficit with ease thanks to some bloody awful captaincy by Cook.

Alastair’s first mistake was giving the new ball to Steve Finn, who bowled like an absolute drain. He soon surrendered any momentum England had. His second mistake was setting an infuriatingly negative field for Moeen Ali. There can’t be too many times in the history of cricket that mid-off is back on the fence in the second over of an innings.

Every time I think Cook is improving as a test captain he does something completely mind-boggling. No captain with a natural feel for the game would’ve done the same – even if he they weren’t entirely confident in the bowler, who, let’s no forget, had taken five wickets in the first innings.

Cook’s negativity, and his spinners’ inaccuracy, handed the game back to Bangladesh. They were able to knock the ball into gaps and pick up pressure-relieving singles as well as hitting the inevitable bad balls for four. The third innings of a test match is often the most tense period of a test match. yet the home side were able to score between five and six an over against the new ball with ease. Basically England blew it.

With Bangladesh 152-3 overnight (a lead of 128), we’ll need to play extremely well tomorrow to pull off another win. I hate to say it but at this point Bangladesh are probably favourites if, and I guess it’s a significant ‘if’, they hold their nerve.

One welcome sign, however, was the horrible heave Mahmudullah played to the last ball of the day. He missed it completely and was clean bowled. One wonders what he was thinking? According to the commentators, who have access to the stump mic, England had been winding the batsman up immediately beforehand. This came as something of a relief to be honest. It’s this kind of inexplicable decision that gets people talking about illegal bookmakers.

Mad-mudullah’s unsightly heave was actually the second extraordinarily strange thing Bangladesh did today: when the crucial Woakes / Rashid partnership came together, Musghfiqur inexplicably decided to bowl his seamers (even though the spinners were all over England at the time). This was another incredibly strange passage of play that would’ve had conspiracy theorist salivating.

A more obvious theory, of course, is that Bangladesh don’t quite know how to win test matches yet. In fact, both teams have looked utterly lost at times. The good thing from a spectators perspective is that games between two somewhat inept teams usually makes seriously good watching. I suggest we all sit back and enjoy whatever unfolds.

James Morgan 

PS I’m going to be out of the loop tomorrow so I won’t be able to write a report. Please feel free to leave comments about day 3’s play in the comments section below. I’ll be relying on you guys to tell me what’s going on! Cheers.

13 Comments

    • Cook has never been the most intuitive on field captain but he is the best we have got. Joe Root has never shown particular aptitude either. Buttler, so far has been the only shining light. Never the less, you post a valid question.

      • I fear I may be developing a Woakes fixation but…….the only successful and happy England tour I recall recently was when Woakes led the Lions to Sri Lanka. Even other tours which we have won have usually been hit by some sort of strife. I do agree about Root – great bat but not the sharpest knife in the block. I did wonder about Bairstow as a potential skipper (at least a gruff Yorkie as captain would give Giles Clarke apoplexy – unless Bairstow can marry into royalty) but discounted him when he decided that LBW appeals for balls which hit the middle of the bat should be a regular feature.

        As a conspiracy theorist I do wonder if Ansari’s promotion to the team is with the captaincy in mind. After all he has all the required credentials; plays in the home counties; went to Cambridge; comes from a ‘good’ family. And I cannot come up with a decent alternative explanation.

    • There are times when a team can get away with average captaincy, especially if he has good bowlers at his disposal. Today England needed a good captain who was on the ball at all times and could put a fragile opposition under pressure. Unfortunately Alastair fluffed his lines completely. I expected a lot more from an experienced cricketer who has played 130 odd tests. Sometimes I think he’s judged too harshly as a captain as he can be creative and is somewhere unfairly characterised as predictable. But today was just very, very poor and I’m genuinely a bit surprised and disappointed.

      • I think we have to cut him a bit of slack. I suspect his mind is more on family than usual, with the arrival of the new baby. Perhaps he should have sat out the Bangladesh leg of the tour.

      • The captain’s “ability” (to win tests) tends to be a function of the players at his disposal. For example, Sir Viv is not regarded as a great captain by many West Indians, because his style was too abrasive (Lloyd was more of a father figure). That didn’t stop his side from winning a lot of tests, but the reasons for that would include Marshall, Ambrose, Walsh, Patterson, Holding and Garner.

  1. Madaboutcricket on

    I’m not surprised the England batsmen are being found out. Cook knows his game and is having a poor series so far (could just be random, could be family related… could be that they’ve worked him out …)

    Roots our only other top six batter and he’s not good enough for three really.. stokes had one good innings and 2 crap ones and he’s world class suddenly.. he suddenly batted like a test batter and promptly forgot again and went back to normal.. he’s a number 7/8 not 5/6.

    Ali is no 5/6 either

    Bairstow is a great 7 and his wk is improving

    Duckett… hahahahahah. White ball player
    Ballance hasn’t improved and now team s know how to get him out every single time
    Buttler.. really.. has everyone forgot he’s got a shoddy technique .. sure he can slog it but this is test cricket.. not white ball

    England as I’ve said have 2 test quality top six batters… this much is obvious unless you swallow ecb media or simply only care batting white ball style batting

      • Madaboutcricket on

        They Are entertainingly bad unless on a road I’ll give you that. Very enjoyable test series. Credit to Bangladesh for not producing the usual Asian roads and produced stats fillers. Now who here is going to start the ‘bring back buttler’ chants!?!?!? Someone will for sure

        • Buttler fulfills a very useful function. I always tell our colts wicketkeepers to watch his keeping very closely…..and then make sure they understand all the errors they see. His keeping reminds me of my schooldays where I was always chosen to demonstrate matters in woodwork on the grounds that if anyone could find a way of creating disaster with a saw and chisel I was your man.

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