A good performance, a good win, and suddenly everything looks rosy again. Bangladesh simply couldn’t live with England in Cardiff on Saturday, and everyone sensed there was only going to be one winner once our batsmen sped past 100 without losing a wicket.
Bangladesh were out-gunned with the ball and all but surrendered with the bat. They never even tried to chase the runs. Personally I thought they were just trying to minimise the damage to their net run rate.
Shakib was great – we all know what a fine cricketer he is – but it was an easy and somewhat pointless hundred in the end. His team needed more than a run a ball (his strike rate was 101) if they really had ambitions to win the game.
Many people thought today was a potential banana skin, but Bangladesh were probably beaten as soon as they realised how the pitch was playing. Had it been a slow turner, the likes of which we’ve seen at Cardiff in the past, then they would’ve fancied their chances. Instead the pitch was tailor made for England: decent pace, no spin, and no help for the bowlers whatsoever. This meant our hitters could go to town. And everyone knows that Jason Roy is at his best when it’s paradise city for batsmen. His 140 was brutal. It almost wasn’t fair. Bangladesh’s tinpot seamers had no chance.
So what did we actually learn today? Very little actually. England are sensational on surfaces like this one. And the bowling has sharper teeth now that Jofra Archer’s missiles are leading the attack. I bet Tamin and the rest were very much on David Willey’s side when the debate about Archer’s inclusion was raging.
However, one cannot help but wonder whether England might have been better served by playing this game in slightly more challenging conditions. At some point in this tournament we’re going to encounter a more attritional game against cannier opponents. Let’s just hope it’s not India in the knockout phases.
Before I sign off, a few words about Moeen Ali, who was apparently dropped for this game even though he was absent from the ground to be with his heavily pregnant wife. What on Earth were Morgan and Bayliss thinking? Dropping Mo, who was our best bowler in the last game, and who forms such a great partnership with Rashid, was beyond brainless. I find it really worrying actually.
Although Moeen hasn’t been in great form with the bat, dropping him just makes the batting weaker – especially when he’s replaced by a lower order player. And when has it ever gone well for England when we’ve picked 5 seamers (in any form of the game) in the past? It just makes the attack look one dimensional.
The game today backed up what a strange decision it was. Only three of the five seamers performed well, and Rashid looked a poor imitation of his usual self without his reliable old mucker bowling at the other end.
Sometimes I wonder if England’s management are beginning to feel the pressure as they cannot have been thinking clearly. It’s possible they suspected Bangladesh would be more vulnerable against pace than spin (which might make some sense) but even then including 5 seamers is a boneheaded luxury. Ben Stokes is a more than adequate 4th seamer – as he proved again today by taking three wickets.
For all England’s talk of keeping a settled squad, and not rocking the boat, nothing sends shockwaves around a dressing room more than dropping a senior player who bowled really well just a few days before.