Sunday, June 05, 2005

Second Test: Embarrassing


The Second Test ended today, a day later than it need have. Somehow England's bowlers managed to allow Bangladesh (officially the worst Test team in the world, remember) to score over 300 in their second innings, and come perilously close to making England bat again.

The victory was never in doubt, of course. The only question, going into this Test, was - would England crush the Bangers under their heels like the insects they are (figuratively speaking); or would they lose focus, given that the odds were so heavily stacked in their favour?

We have to allow for the fact that the pitch was clearly better suited to batting than bowling, but England's figures in the second innings were almost as pathetic as the Bangladeshi bowlers' were in their first. Harmison - hit for five an over on his home track (and only one wicket into the bargain); Jones - hit for a similar run rate, and not even a wicket to show for it; Batty - the fact that he was even brought into the attack at all says a lot; and Hoggard - well, how he could bring himself to accept the Man of the Match award after eight no-balls and a wide, spraying it all over leg and off sides, and only ending up with eight wickets in the match because no one else seemed bothered about taking them (not that he seemed bothered much, either)...

Easy though the batting was, a more serious contender for the MotM would have been Ian Bell, who is repaying the selectors' faith, scoring his first ever Test century, managing to avoid losing his wicket for the second match in a row, and ending the day with a Test average of 297.00. However, I think I would have been tempted to give it to give it to Aftab Ahmed who, even though faced with a diet of pies from the England bowlers, succeeded where many times his fellow countrymen have failed by not giving away his wicket, top-scoring for Bangladesh with 82*, hitting 13 fours and a six, and making Tresco and Strauss nervously wondering if they really would have to go out and dispense with the formality of hitting the winning runs.

Speaking of Strauss - what in blue blazes is wrong with the man? Nobody seriously expected that his golden run of 2004 would continue indefinitely, but his 69 at Lord's looked insecure, and his feeble eight runs (off 30 balls, for heaven's sake) before getting trapped in front (again) in this match will be something he will want to expunge personally from every scorebook and match record he can lay his hands on. He is having a miserable season with Middlesex, as well, averaging only 14.75 (only from four first-class games, admittedly, but he's a shadow of himself). I do hope he's saving the good stuff up for July.

(Speaking of July, Steve Waugh reckons the Ashes series will be a close-run thing. Bring it on.)


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