Bullish Strauss happy to chop and change his opening partner

Bopara likely to be latest experiment at top of order as England meet Bangladesh today

Something odd has happened to the state of England since last Sunday. By any normal lights they should have spent the week skulking around what parts of this city it is possible to skulk around, feeling slightly sorry for themselves.

They have lost two of their marquee players, their prospect of progress in the World Cup remains in the balance and any sense of regular fluency in their cricket has been elusive. Yet they have been cheerful and relaxed.

The departures in rapid succession of Kevin Pietersen and Stuart Broad appear to have been seamlessly absorbed by the addition of Eoin Morgan and Chris Tremlett and the edgy, improbable win against South Africa provided them with a renewed belief in themselves that straight-forward, seen -it-coming-for-miles wins cannot instil. A third Group B victory today over Bangladesh will bring the quarter-finals looming into view.

Twice in this tournament, England have come back when all looked lost. Against India they managed to tie to overcome a clatter of wickets which made defeat look certain. Against South Africa, defending a total of 171, they contrived somehow to bowl their opponents out seven runs short of their target.

True, the comebacks sandwiched the match against Ireland, when England suffered one of the most astonishing reversals in their history, but that too is being treated as a learning experience. Call that insufferably smug, but it is to England's credit that they have made no excuses for insipid displays.

When they have bowled and fielded badly there have been none of the characteristic excuses of the professional sportsman. They have conceded their shortcomings, thus taking some of the wind from the sails of their critics. So at ease with themselves do they now appear that Andrew Strauss, their captain, could talk openly yesterday about changing his batting order to suit conditions.

He said it because England have been forced into change by Pietersen's withdrawal from the tournament with a hernia. It meant that England have to find a replacement as opening batsman and whether it is Ravi Bopara or Matt Prior today (Strauss was not saying but Prior is out of form and Bopara is not, so only one option makes any selectorial sense) it may not stay that way.

"I don't think we're nailed on to playing the same opening partnership all the way through," said Strauss. "But for the time being we have got to play ideally what the right combination at the top is. But there is no reason why you can't think of changing if circumstances arise and if they do we'll do that."

There are two ways of looking at such a policy: either they are so sure of themselves that they can change their balance accordingly even with something as delicate as the opening batsmen, or that they are in such a muddle they do not know who should really open as witnessed by the decision to ask Pietersen, once their best man in the middle order.

There was some speculation that England might play three spinners in the match. Observers always become a little frenzied about spinning in the subcontinent, as though it is the only way to take wickets and contain. Bangladesh play lots of spinners, not only because of the surfaces, but because of the standard of their seamers.

England do not have that shortage. In Chittagong a year ago they made do with one spinner, though Pietersen had to back him up with eight overs. Three spinners, to include James Tredwell, would go against the policy of picking the best available bowlers. Tredwell has not had enough cricket. It is, however, coming to something when Pietersen seems to be missed as much for his occasional off-breaks as his once blistering batting.

The England management team spent half an hour in close talks round the pitch in Chittagong yesterday. They bounced balls on it, they mused and muttered and opined about what it might and might not do. They looked as though they meant business.

Bangladesh are aware that anything other than a win is likely to spell the end of their World Cup dream. And it was a dream – playing a World Cup quarter-final in Dhaka.

The need to win will place an extra burden on them today and nothing suggests they are capable of carrying it. They are already fearful of the reaction they may receive from the crowd and security will not be lessened for a second. The ICC want no repeats of the stoning of the coaches that followed Bangladesh's defeat against West Indies.

Strauss said: "It has been very unpredictable and I would like to it to have a lot more predictability. We need to get that right in the next two games."

Teams and pitch report

Bangladesh (probable): Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Junaid Siddique, Mushfiqur Rahim (wkt), Shakib al Hasan (capt), Raqibul Hasan, Mahmadullah, Naeem Islam, ASbdur Raazak, Shafiul Islam, Rubel Hossain.

England (probable): A J Strauss (capt), RS Bopara, IJL Trott, IR Bell, EJG Morgan, MJ Prior (wkt), MJ Yardy, TT Bresnan, GP Swann, A Shahzad, JM Anderson.

Pitch Dry and likely to take lots of turn but helpful to clever seam bowling.

TV Sky Sports 1, 8am-5.30pm

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform