England’s victory in the most densely populated nation on earth was much like a Bangladeshi curry. It was bloody hot, devised by a Cook, and with Stuart Broad and Jamie Siddons at hand, proceedings often came with a side portion of argy bhaji. Unfortunately however, the cricket on offer failed to sizzle. Much of that was down to the moderate performance of the two teams, but mostly it was because the pitches were so bland. Test cricket is so much more interesting when groundsmen prepare spicy surfaces that give more assistance to the bowlers.
England duly wrapped up victory in the second test yesterday, but the ending was hardly triumphant. After the first hour it looked like we may have had an interesting finish on our hands. Shakib Al Hasan enhanced his growing reputation with a fine 96, but once he was out the Bangladeshis seemed to give up. With England needed over 200 to win, the hosts had the chance to make things tough. But once the score reached 20 without loss, the fields became extraordinarily defensive, the home skipper gave up trying to take wickets, and an England Victory became inevitable. Cook and Pietersen batted well to secure a nine wicket victory, but it was hard to escape the feeling that they’ve probably had tougher net sessions.
So what are your views on the tour? Although England were hardly tested, several fringe players had a chance to stake a claim for a regular spot. Therefore, from a development point of view, the selectors might have learned a thing or two. Here’s our report card for the tour.
Alastair Cook (as batsman) 9/10. His technique looks so much better now. He has expanded his range of attacking strokes and looked very composed, despite the added pressure of captaincy. Is he finally beginning to mature as a test cricketer? We will have to wait and see. Better attacks will test his technique in the next twelve months, but the signs are good.
Alistair Cook (as captain) 4/10. I am afraid he didn’t impress at all. England made hard work of their two test victories – and their cause wasn’t helped by having a rookie captain. Cook was often negative and reactionary, whilst his tactics and bowling changes were often naive and confusing. There were inexplicable gaps in the slips, he had outfielders in no-man’s land (neither catching nor saving runs), he didn’t attack at the right moments, and made a number of mind boggling decisions e.g. on the final morning of the second test he didn’t change the field when England took the new ball. Has a lot to learn.
Michael Carberry 5/10. A surprise choice for the tour, but didn’t really get many chances to prove his worth. Batted adequately in the first test, showing glimpses of talent, but then gave his wicket away. Could be a one-cap wonder.
Jonathan Trott 5/10. Still struggling higher up the order. Shows good mental strength but bats too slowly and looks to be lacking confidence. England need to decide whether he’s a genuine number three or a reserve middle-order player.
Kevin Pietersen 7/10. Would have been disappointed to miss out on a century, but at least looked back to his best on the final day of the series. Gradually looking more comfortable against left arm spin by getting inside the line of the ball and hitting predominantly through extra cover. Let’s hope he’s finally over his achilles injury.
Paul Collingwood 7/10. Great century in the first test, but didn’t have to do a lot thereafter. Still a reassuring sight to see his name on the team-sheet.
Ian Bell 8/10. A great tour from Bell, but we’ve been here before haven’t we. Always gets runs against Bangladesh. Tougher tests lie waiting, but surely he will fulfil his immense talent one day. Looks like a number three to me … but can he do it against Australia next winter?
Matt Prior 6/10. Bit of a mixed bag from Matt. He kept tidily enough, but will he ever be able to take those half chances? Played a good attacking innings in the second test, but must score runs during the English summer as Craig Kieswetter will be breathing down his neck.
Tim Bresnan 9/10. The man of the tour. Yes, it was only against Bangladesh, but he looked strong, accurate, and was one of the few bowlers to find a bit of seam movement on dead pitches (as well as finding a bit of reverse swing). Those of us who want England to play five bowlers will hope he can develop into a decent allrounder. His batting shows promise.
Stuart Broad: 4/10. Brings a new dimension to the term ‘match fit’. It’s doubtful whether his back was healthy enough to play two tests, but he made up for it by having a fit (i.e. a ‘match fit’) when decisions didn’t go his way. Still looks like a great prospect, but his batting is going backwards and his on-field antics are becoming more than a little embarrassing. Grow up Stuart and let your cricket do the talking.
Graeme Swann 8/10. The best talisman we’ve had since Darren Gough. Took wickets in every match and the now the best spinner on the planet according to the world rankings. Shows that the art of orthodox spin is still valuable in the modern game. Would be great to see him have a bowl-off with Daniel Vettori.
Stephen Finn 6/10. Didn’t take many wickets on surfaces that didn’t suit him, but this lad can bowl. He is already pretty sharp – and he’s going to get quicker. At just twenty years of age, he’s our best fast bowling prospect for years. Should stay in the side if England play five bowlers. We will need somebody like him in Australia at the end of the year. Let’s hope he stays fit.
James Tredwell 7/10. It’s hard to know what to make of him. Looks innocuous at times, but bowls with decent accuracy and gives it a bit of loop. Could become the bowling equivalent of Paul Collingwood i.e. a reliable team man that’s underrated by his opponents. If he goes on the ashes tour he will be an obvious target for the boisterous crowds due to his appearance – but who cares if he looks more like a village cricketer than an international class athlete?!