It’s time to don those bulletproof vests and brave that ring of steel. England start their ODI series against Bangladesh today at Dhaka and it could prove a rather interesting series. The Bangladeshis are no longer the whipping boys of international cricket, at least not in the one-day arena, and England are missing three very important players: established opener Alex Hales, boy wonder Joe Root and captain Eoin Morgan.
Although England have metamorphosed into a decent 50 over outfit since the last World Cup (especially at home) Bangladesh actually have a better recent home record that us. Our hosts have lost just three of their last 20 ODIs on home soil whereas England have lost five. In fact, Bangladesh haven’t lost a one-day series at home for two years, and during that time they’ve beaten South Africa 2-1 and whitewashed Pakistan 3-0. It wasn’t so long ago that they whitewashed New Zealand at home too. That puts the size of our task into perspective.
I’m glad that the pundits recognise it will be a tricky tour too. Whenever England play relative minnows there’s often an assumption that victory is guaranteed. Of course, it doesn’t always end up that way. In the video above, which is sponsored by Betway, Simon Hughes makes some good points that are as relevant today as they’ve always been. England often struggle on slow pitches when the spinners put the squeeze on. It’s naïve to think that our new team, despite the good progress they’ve made, will suddenly start scoring 350 odd in the subcontinent. In fact, Hughes predicts that Bangladesh will win the series 2-1. That’s not an unreasonable prediction in my opinion.
The security concerns might also play on our players’ minds. Every time they look around the dressing room, Hales and Morgan will be conspicuous by their absence. What’s more, it can’t be fun knowing you’re a potential target and need to be guarded by tanks, snipers and half the Bangladeshi army. I severely doubt they’ll be 100% focused on the cricket.
In pure cricketing terms, it will be difficult to overcome the absence of three senior batsmen. James Vince is an attractive player with plenty of ability but what are the odds that he looks good but then suddenly gets out randomly at an important time? What’s more, although Ben Duckett is supremely talented, it’s always hard for rookies to make an immediately impact – especially in alien conditions. It’s not easy to replace a player as dominant as Joe Root.
Finally we come to Jonny Bairstow who has been chomping on the bit for an opportunity in one-day cricket. We all know he’s a fine test player these days but how will he fare against Bangladesh’s spinners when the pressure’s on? Jonny has never struck me as a particularly natural player of spin so he’s got something to prove. It’s not beyond him by an means – he’s improved so much in recent times and looks full of confidence – but I don’t think success is guaranteed.
When it comes to the bowling, our seamers might find the going somewhat tough too. Chris Woakes had an excellent summer but it’s bound to be tougher away from home. Just ask Jimmy Anderson. Meanwhile, the likes of Liam Plunkett won’t be happy if the pitches are particularly slow.
As always in this part of the world, the spinners will be key. Moeen Ali usually does a reasonable job in one-day cricket but the man I’ll be watching with interest is Adil Rashid. Can he adapt to conditions, keep things tight and simultaneously pick up wickets? Unless England can post big totals, Bangladesh might milk him and then put away the loose deliveries when they inevitably come.
Having said all that, victory isn’t beyond England of course. We still have some match-winners – not least the new captain, a certain Jos Buttler, who might fancy the job permanently. There’s also the interesting prospect of Ben Stokes taking on the Bangladeshi bowlers. England’s best chance is to be positive, take calculated risks, and above all don’t let the spinners create a stranglehold.
I kind of think the outcome today is an emphatic YES James. What a topsy turvy game. 63-3 with the silly Bairstow run-out England could have hit the wall v spin, but a gutsy debut knock from Duckett and a wonderful Stokes ton and followed up by a typically explosive Buttler back end effort (he’s truly a special ODI batsman) and a 300 + score on what didn’t seem that comfortable a pitch.
Then despite a promising start with a couple of early wickets, it looked as though Bangladesh were going to romp it. However back come Rashid and most of all Jake Ball and turn it around so completely that the Banglad did a very good impression of the worst English ODi collapses. A wonderful ODI game, as the Banglas are certainly not any mugs and haven’t been over the last few years in this form of the game.
Totally agree. I think the most positive thing for me is that we didn’t let the Bangladshi spinners get on top of us. Ben Stokes and Duckett deserve a heap of praise for that. Stokes in particular hates being dominated and I think his shot selection was spot on. Hopefully today’s approach will set the tone for the whole winter. The blueprint was spot on and I hope we adopt the same strategy against Ashwin and Co in India.
Welcome back !
Shame about the England collapse, but good for Bangladesh.
Thanks Nigel. It was a bit of a nightmare. I changed my hosting package and so all my sites were moved to a different server. For some reason there was a blip when transferring TFT (although my other sites were unaffected).
It’s probably too late for me to write a preview of tomorrow’s deciding ODI so I’ll be back tomorrow evening to write up the usual report. The series has been quite interesting thus far.
Positives: We haven’t been tied in knots by the spinners.
Negatives: We’ve been blown away by the Bangladeshi seamers instead!
We played very well in the first game although Bangladesh surely contributed to their own demise. The second game was a little weird. I certainly didn’t expect our batting to fall apart like that. The series has been a tale of two collapses really.
Can we win tomorrow? Absolutely. However, it probably won’t be easy. Bangladesh now have a very competitive side in home conditions. We are missing Joe Root quite badly imho. The big question, however, is whether we’re missing Eoin Morgan. It’s hard to tell from back in England.
Bangladesh are no longer the whipping boys. As dedicated cricket fans I am sure most are aware of some fairly high profile scalps taken by the Bangladeshis
You have time James, the decider is Wednesday (12th)
I know …. but I thought Monday was the 11th. Duh! I’m writing something now :-)