Ian Baker - Chittagong snorefest failed to pass the test
17 Mar 2010 - 09:53:06
The first Test between Bangladesh and England in Chittagong was a very poor advert for the longer form of the game.
As a real aficionado of Test cricket it was very concerning to see it struggle for TV ratings against the mega bucks IPL that started in India at the same time.
Fourteen match sixes may suggest there was plenty of attacking batting. But neither side were really in the mood to hammer home their chances.
Shakib Al Hasan's decision to put England in on a flat wicket was a nervous one. He was almost saying: "I don't believe we can win this so let's try and make it four days."
It did end up going the distance thanks to a fine recovery from the hosts. However it may well have been a very different story had Bangladesh batted first and given England the pressure.
What Bangladesh did in the second innings shows is they have real ability to cause many sides in the world difficulty. It's just a shame they lacked the belief in their own abilities and disappointing their captain did not have more faith in them.
Amazingly Alastair Cook seemed to go down with the very same negativity virus that Shakib had. Captaining England for the first time in Tests with Andrew Strauss at home, Cook's decision not to enforce the follow-on midway through day three was nothing short of scandalous.
Forget the noises that he has made since - suggesting he is vindicated because England beat the world's lowest playing Test match nation - Cook could well have been sitting with egg on his face. Bangladesh were just over a session and a half from escaping with a miraculous draw - and England failed to hammer home the advantage they had in a sufficiently emphatic manner.
They will point to a docile pitch and tired bowlers but if England are to have a chance against Australia down under in eight months chance they need to play with considerably more positivity than they did in Chittagong.
Cook will not be the captain for that tour and he clearly has many lessons to learn. Shakib is younger, at only 22, and both need to be a bit less conservative and a bit more attacking in their thinking if things are to get any better for the second and final Test in Dhaka this weekend.
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