Cricket wins over fear
Sports Gazette takes a look at the England and Bangladesh teams as security issues fail to shelf off the series.
In spite of facing difficulties, England’s tour of Bangladesh is all set to commence on 7th October 2016. England, currently ranked 5th according to the ICC ODI rankings are scheduled to play a three- match one- day series followed by a two- match Test series against Bangladesh. The matches will be held in Dhaka and Chittagong.
The England team has been provided with high security since they have landed into the capital city of Bangladesh, Dhaka. Security concerns have been the highlight of this series even before it has begun. Earlier this year, in July, 18 foreigners were killed when a café was attacked in Dhaka. Most of them were hacked to death by suspected Islamist militants. This caused tension among the English players. But Bangladesh authorities were quick in easing the situation. They promised England cricketers ‘unprecedented security’ as they wanted to prevent Bangladesh from becoming a no-go zone for international sport.
A separate assessment was carried out by England’s security expert in Bangladesh. Only after the assessment ECB decided to go ahead with the month- long tour. While England’s Test captain Alistair Cook has decided to travel to Bangladesh, top players like ODI captain Eoin Morgan and Alex Hales have chosen to stay back home. Their absence will be an opportunity for players like Ben Duckett and Haseeb Hameed.
It seems 19- year- old Lancashire opener Haseeb Hameed might have to wait longer than expected to get into the playing eleven. His teammate and competitor, Ben Duckett of Northamptonshire most probably make the cut. Duckett has been selected in both, the ODI and Test squads. While Hameed has been named in the Test squad. Hameed has an average of 48.50 in first class cricket, yet Duckett may be chosen due to his experience in List A games. It would only be fair if Hameed got an opportunity to feature in at least one Test match.
While England have opted for a young team with a mix of experienced players and new comers, Bangladesh will field their big boys like Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim and Imrul Kayes. Kayes looks to be in form as he scored a quick-fire 91 ball 121 in the warm up game played between BCB XI and England XI. As far as England are concerned, wicketkeeper and captain for this series, Jose Buttler is in good touch as he scored 80 runs in 64 balls. But Jason Roy is being called the favourite to score the highest runs.
Bangladesh coming out of a 2-1 series win against Afghanistan will be on a high. They definitely have the home advantage of spinning wickets. But it will be interesting to see how the four England spinners perform.
Gareth Batty, the 38 year-old who bowls right arm off- break will be making a comeback after a gap of eleven years. Interestingly, Batty made his Test debut and also played his previous Test match against Bangladesh. On the other hand, Bangladesh will bank on Shakib al Hasan’s off- break bowling.
England being the superior team, are the favourites to win both the Test and ODI series. But Bangladesh aren’t minnows anymore. This young Bangladesh side ranks 7th in the ICC ODI rankings. According to statistics, Bangladesh won by 15 runs to beat England in the group stage of the ICC Cricket World Cup held in 2015.