By Michael Stafford-Jones
- Questions of security overshadowed the build-up to England’s tour
- Eoin Morgan and Alex Hales opted not to go and Jos Buttler was made captain
- England will play three ODIs and two Tests against Bangladesh
DHAKA, BANGLADESH – England are hoping to put the security debate behind them after starting their tour of Bangladesh with a four-wicket win over BCB Select XI, ahead of the First ODI on Friday.
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The build-up to England’s cricket tour in Bangladesh has been dominated by the issue of security. No-one knew for certain if it would even go ahead after 20 hostages were killed by Islamic militants in capital city Dhaka on 1st July.
However, after England’s security director Reg Dickason carried out a two-week assessment of safety in Bangladesh and India and put rigorous protective measures in place, the tour was given the green light. Players were given the option not to go, with England Director of Cricket Andrew Strauss warning their places may be at risk if they chose to stay at home.
ODI Captain Eoin Morgan and opening batsman Alex Hales decided not to tour. Strauss said he was disappointed with their stance, as did former captains Nasser Hussain and Michael Vaughan, but Morgan and Hales’ teammates were much more supportive.
Jos Buttler, who was appointed captain for the ODIs, told The Guardian: “He (Morgan) has made the decision that is right for him and it is not one he has taken lightly. As a group we spoke about how everyone will respect whatever individual decision is made and back it 100%.”
Ben Stokes and Jason Roy also publicly expressed their support for their teammates’ difficult decision. However, the absence of Morgan and Hales provides others with a fantastic opportunity. England called up promising young batsman Ben Duckett to the ODI squad and talented 19-year-old opener Haseeb Hameed to the Test squad to replace them.
There was another surprise pick in the test touring party, as Surrey captain and off-spinner Gareth Batty, who will be 39 on 13th October, was selected for the first time since June 2005. Since the squads were announced, James Anderson and Mark Wood withdrew with shoulder and ankle injuries respectively, and Jake Ball and Steven Finn took their places.
After the debate about security raged on for about to month, it is easy to forget there is cricket to be played, starting with the First ODI on Friday 7th October. The Second and Third ODIs take place on the 9th and 12th, with two Test matches to follow starting on the 20th and 28th October.
Warming up with a win
England won their only warm-up match ahead of the ODIs, beating a Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) Select XI by four wickets on Tuesday. Buttler starred in the chase, hitting an unbeaten 80 off 64 balls to guide the team to their target of 310. He was superbly supported by Moeen Ali, who made 70 off 51 balls from number seven in the batting order.
Roy and James Vince earlier got the chase off to an excellent start, racing to 72-0 after 8.3 overs. However, after Roy was dismissed for 28 by Ebadat Hossain, England’s run rate rapidly declined. Vince also fell to Hossain for 48, then Duckett, Johnny Bairstow and Stokes scratched around for 16 overs to leave England 170-5 after 28.3 overs. Thankfully for the tourists, Buttler and Ali made the rest of the chase look easy and England won with almost four overs to spare.
During BCB Select XI’s innings of 309-9, the bowlers really struggled with the heat – about 35 degrees – and the humidity, which was at 80%. They also had to contend with the Dhaka smog, and The Guardian reported that some of the fielders appeared to be struggling for breath and Stokes and Liam Plunkett left the field for a while with cramp.
Chris Woakes was once again the pick of the bowlers as he took 3-52 in nine overs. Stokes bowled well and recorded figures of 2-36 in eight overs, and David Willey also took two wickets. The struggles of Adil Rashid (0-76) and Ali (0-41 in seven overs) will be a concern though, as will the form of two of the players England might face in the coming series: Imrul Kayes, who made 121 off 91 balls, and Mushfiqur Rahim, who scored 51.
For this warm-up match, England selected the XI they intend to choose in Friday’s First ODI: Roy, Vince, Duckett, Bairstow, Stokes, Buttler, Ali, Woakes, Willey, Plunkett and Rashid. It is an exciting team, and it promises to be an intriguing series in Bangladesh.
The First ODI starts at 9.30am UK time on Friday 7th October.
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