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Tehsin
October 20, 2003, 10:13 AM
Bowling the main concern for England
Andrew Miller
October 20, 2003

There was a time, not so long ago, when matches involving Bangladesh were an affront to Test cricket's good reputation. Second-string teams would help themselves to career-best performances without so much as a by-your-leave, and at one stage Bangladesh had shuffled haplessly to 12 innings defeats in 14 matches.

But to watch the way in which England have prepared for tomorrow's first Test at the Bangabandhu Stadium in Dhaka, is to be convinced that that era is drawing to a close. Certainly Bangladesh's Test record of 23 defeats in 24 matches is likely to get worse before it gets better, but there can be no doubt that the "Test" has been restored to the cricket that they play.

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The Bangladeshis, however, merely hope to use the coming days to display their game in a new light. For Dav Whatmore, their new coach and the man who masterminded a similar turnaround in Sri Lankan fortunes, victory remains improbable it is the manner of their defeat that counts. "I don't give a damn about losing," he said. "I just want to be able to make a close and truthful evaluation of individual performances."

In their most recent Test, against Pakistan at Multan last month, Bangladesh were deprived of victory by a desperate last-wicket stand. Nine of that team remain for this Test, with two new caps added to the squad. The first of these, the left-arm spinner Enamul Haq junior, is just 18 years old and has attracted praise for the maturity of his bowling in the first match of the tour. But the other new boy, Aftab Ahmed, was derided by the local press as a kneejerk selection after his 45 in the same game. He is, they say, too much of a one-day slogger for such an important match. Such strictures are a measure of how far Bangladesh have come in so short a time.

Link: Cricinfo (http://www-usa.cricket.org/link_to_database/ARCHIVE/CRICKET_NEWS/2003/OCT/364744_BDESHENG2003-04_20OCT2003.html)