Well done Bangladesh on a first test win over England. The victory was thoroughly deserved and the series could have so easily finished 2–0 to the hosts rather than the 1–1 draw.
Both matches were excellent adverts for test cricket in that they were testing for both teams with the Tigers in my mind claiming a points victory over the two games. In Mehedi Hasan they have clearly unearthed a young diamond who may yet help to propel his team to more victories against the top teams.
On this evidence, however, it is difficult to call England a top team. What a shambles. The performances they put in were simply unacceptable – especially the batting line up. In the first test the entire XI had at least one first class century to their name. Likewise in the second – save for Steven Finn. But in both they capitulated in the face of decent spin.
The same squad travels to India in the coming days with much to ponder. If they thought the bowlers of a test playing nation of the strength of Bangladesh were too hot to handle then I greatly fear what will happen in India. It could easily be a whitewash. I hope to be proved wrong but excuses such as those offered up in defence of England – “lack of experience on the sub-continent” simply don’t wash. A 19-year-old with NO test experience has just steam-rollered through you. Think again.
There’s no quick answer for the India series. You would have thought that Gary Ballance and Steven Finn would have played their last tests but a demanding forthcoming schedule will have saved them for now. Neither would appear good enough for the demands of test cricket.
Much rests on the broad shoulders of Ben Stokes. The Durham all-rounder showed his value to the team in both disciplines – especially the ball – and must now be looked after to ensure burn out does not occur. His performances were one of the few good points for the three lions. It was good to see Ben Duckett at least make one knock of note – time will tell if he has the goods needed to succeed long term.
With an eye on the longer term future the powers that be at the top of the English hierarchy need to develop a strategy that seeks to equip English batsmen with the skills needed to be able to play spin. Losing ten wickets for 64 runs as they did to surrender the match is not acceptable in test match cricket. They also need to find their own Hasan – Rashid, Batty, Ali and Ansari may be OK – but none of them are going to regularly win matches for their captain. If England want to be the number one side in the world they can’t just be winners at home and losers abroad.
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