As I have said before, I am a cricket fan and have been since I was young enough to lift a bat. While my cricket exploits are modest (for quite a number of years they have been non-existent) I have been a lifelong follower of the game, especially at Test level. I have just been following the England and Bangladesh series which ended earlier in the day with a Bangladesh victory in the second and final test. Given England won the first test, that meant the series was tied and most pundits felt that was a fair reflection of the balance on play throughout the series and a notable achievement for Bangladesh.
I have to confess that I have seen none of the action on TV, live or recorded, but have listened to snippets of play on TMS, along with their end of day podcast summarizing what had gone on, and giving a verdict each day on the performances of each side and the various individuals participating. It was a very good result for Bangladesh, considered a relative minnow when compared with one of the top sides in the world. Many thought they were unlucky to lose the first test and only lost due to some superb late English individual performances and a lack of experience on their part. Both tests were exciting spectacles given the balance of ascendancy in the games were continually changing and up to late on any result was possible.
If I am honest, I do not recognize any of the Bangladesh players, but what became clear in that series and the one days series that preceded is they have some very good players in all departments. Mehedi Hasan, their nineteen year old off spinner (pictured above), is one such example and it was he who did the damage today, clearly relishing the opportunity to contribute. After England had put on a convincing century first wicket partnership and looked set for pulling off an unlikely victory, he managed to take six English wickets having taken six wickets in the first innings. While England might feel disappointed, and there are obvious weaknesses, which have been especially exposed in these typical Indian sub-continent conditions, there were some good individual performances but lessons need to be learned for when they go next to play India in India. While England had rested certain players (understandably, although I would be inclined to sack Owen Morgan for refusing to tour), it should take nothing away from what was a fair result against worthy opposition. The challenge remains as to what is its best side despite being blessed with several fine players. They will do well to recognise there is no place for complacency. A cricket side can only be regarded as great if it can overcome the best opposition in ALL conditions; England are some way from achieving that.
I love the TMS commentary, which these days I tend to listen online while doing other things on my computer. Their charm is not only is their cricketing insights spot on but they make other interesting observations too. It is good to hear new voices following stalwarts like Geoff Boycott, such as Ebony Rainford Brent, part of the new generation of competent lady commentators. Her post match comment is quite right: “There were all these issues about security and there were doubts about the series taking place. The people here were all so happy that England came. This is unbelievable”. I sense culturally, cricket played in Bangladesh is a lot different to that in England, and that is part of the charm. Few would have predicted that a side like Bangladesh with its modest record should have competed so well throughout the Test series, after a good performance in the One Day Internationals. It showed why we love cricket. Above all, credit goes to Bangladesh for their achievement!