Congratulations to Bangladesh England on defeating England Bangladesh in a thrilling first Test Match at Chittagong. The hosts have only ever beaten West Indies and Zimbabwe in the longest format of the game but had seemed on course to go 1-0 up in the series for much of this game. England had other ideas though.
Of course only in England can the side win a hard fought Test Match in alien conditions and still get criticised. In the aftermath of the 22-run victory the BBC’s Jonathan Agnew and Ebony Rainford-Brent have suggested that captain Alastair Cook might not have faith in Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid’s abilities. Which is strange given that Moeen bowled more overs than anybody else in the first innings and in the second he opened the bowling whilst nobody bowled more overs in the second innings than Rashid.
Are they seriously suggesting that Cook shouldn’t have thrown the ball to Ben Stokes on the final morning?
The England management seem to have been extremely keen to get Gareth Batty into the side for the first Test but when England really needed a wicket in the fourth innings Cook appeared reluctant to turn to him. When he eventually did it was the county veteran that made the breakthrough having seemingly been underused after taking two earlier wickets. ‘Nora’ recorded figures of 1-51 having opened the bowling in the first innings and 3-65 in the second. Maybe Cook’s perceived reluctance to turn to the Surrey stalwart was actually just an acute sense of when he would be most likely to strike, aka great captaincy.
Captain Cook didn’t play in the warm-up matches and contributed scores of just four and twelve at the top of the order for England having attended the birth of his second child. Had England lost this Test Match such preparation might well have come into question. As it is he deserves tremendous credit for captaining his side to victory against a much-improved Bangladesh side.
Despite victory one or two questions remain regarding the make up of the England XI, namely Gary Ballance’s presence at number four. Come the second Test could Batty’s Surrey teammate Zafar Ansari, who took 4-68 in one of the warm-up games be a straight swap for short-leg specialist but run shy Ballance or could Jos Buttler come in so high in the order despite having played such little First Class cricket in recent times?
Batty has surely done enough to prevent Ansari from being a straight swap for him so could England’s Test Player of the Year Chris Woakes even find himself carrying the drinks?
At the top of the order the England management have surely backed them selves into a corner by not selecting teenage opening batsman Haseeb Hameed for the first Test. Having persisted with Ballance it would seem odd to drop Ben Duckett to four after just one match.
Will Ballance’s three second innings catches provide him with one last chance?
We’ll find out in Dhaka on the 28th.