Against the flimsiest possible resistance, England won the Second Test and the series against Bangladesh yesterday. Only if the tourists had gone to the crease carrying white flags in upraised arms with a peace treaty already signed in the pavilion could they have made clearer their intentions of surrendering.
It was a pitiful way to end their English engagements in the longer form of the game and did scant justice to a match which had attracted handsome and enthusiastic crowds on its first two days. The second innings lasted only as far as the 35th over, some 20 fewer than their first which had culminated catastrophically when they contrived to shed all 10 wickets in a single session after tea the previous evening.
In essence, therefore, England needed only two sessions of play to bowl out the opposition twice to win by an innings and 80 runs. Such a tame effort merely exacerbated Bangladesh's dubious status as a Test nation. Since the collapses came after they had put on 126 for their first wicket in the first innings they lost all 20 wickets for 203 runs. They were all out for 123 in the second only because of some late hitting and for the second successive match Steve Finn took five wickets in an innings, his excessive bounce altogether too much for the opposition to handle. He was man of the series for the first time; it may not be the last.
There have been larger collapses and smaller totals in Test history but for ineptitude allied to unreadiness in dank conditions it took some beating. That so many flocked to the match on the first two warm days (and that yesterday's attendance was so healthy despite rain delaying proceedings until after lunch) was testament to the fact that Test cricket is truly alive and well in England. In no other country in the world could Bangladesh have attracted so many spectators as the 12,000 who attended on Saturday, including Bangladesh.
It was another poor advertisement, however, for the early season Test series which have been running since 2000. That was when it was determined that there should be seven Test matches each summer, divided into series of three and four, or two and five. The opposition is always up against it, inevitably inferior if only because they are not accustomed to conditions in which the ball tends to move round much more.
Of the 28 matches in 11 years which have now comprised the opening series, England have now won 21 with five draws and have not lost a single series. Their record of winning all their international matches against Bangladesh remains intact and based on the display in this match it is impossible to predict that this may change when the one-day series of three matches is played next month.
The tourists may be glad of a breather from England. Bizarre though it seems, they are now leaving for a one-day tournament in Sri Lanka, the Asia Cup, which involves the four sub-continental nations. They return to England for the first of three one-day matches on 8 July. By then the pitches may be smoother and the ball less prone to misbehaviour.
How ill-prepared they were yesterday could perhaps have been guessed at from the manner in which they tumbled on Saturday evening. Play did not start until 1.15pm because of heavy overnight rain but it was evident from the skies that England would be contemplating a finish in three days. The odds on that shortened considerably when Bangladesh's batting hero, Tamim Iqbal, perished to the second ball of the innings, a lifter outside off stump from Jimmy Anderson which he wafted to Matt Prior. Tamim had struck a joyous century on Saturday at a run a ball, his second in a row and his fifth successive Test score above 50 against England.
On that basis he was due to fail, but when he did it was immediately obvious that it was all up for his team. By the sixth over they had lost their second wicket, by the 14th they were six down. The bowling was prodigious at times and Anderson's movement was exaggerated but it was an insipid response as it had been 24 hours earlier. Imrul Kayes was out yet again mis-hooking a Finn bouncer, Junaid Siddique might have departed thrice before, with something that probably approached gratitude, he pushed an Anderson outswinger to gully. Jahurul Islam attempted to cut something that was too close and too high but otherwise perfect for the shot. Finn, not for the first time, fell over in his delivery stride.
Mohammad Ashraful edged Anderson to slip, Shakib-al-Hasan had his defences pierced by debutant Ajmal Shahzad darting one back in. At this point it was almost unbearable to watch, behind-the-sofa-cricket of the first order. There followed a seventh-wicket partnership of 37 but this too ended ignominiously when Mushfiqur Rahim chipped Finn to mid-on where the substitute, Lancastrian Karl Brown, 22, took a catch he will remember. Mahmudullah played a few effective hooks, Abdur Razzak clubbed a couple down the ground but this was token defiance, the retreat already sounded.
It was all finished in under three hours, less than the length of an innings in one-day cricket for which England now start preparing. They name their squad on Thursday for five matches against Australia and three against Bangladesh. They have won a Test series 2-0 and four Tests in a row but it is difficult to tell if that is progress or walkover.
Key moments from the third day at Old Trafford
1.15pm Play begins after the morning's play had been wiped out by rain. Bangladesh openers Tamim Iqbal and Imrul Kayes stride purposefully to the wicket.
1.16 Tamim, Bangladesh's hero in this series, strides rather less purposefully back to the pavilion having been dismissed by James Anderson after just two balls.
1.43 Kayes tries to hook Steve Finn and is caught. Bangladesh 14 for 2.
1.46 Junaid Siddique guides the ball straight into Kevin Pietersen's waiting palms to leave Bangladesh tottering on 18 for 3. Eight minutes later Siddique is followed by Jahurul Islam.
2.15 Mohammad Ashraful joins the procession, caught at first slip. Bangladesh look dead and buried at 37 for 5.
2.21 Things get even worse for the tourists as Ajmal Shahzad gets 'in on the action', as they say. Shakib Al Hasan is bowled.
2.43 The comeback begins as Mushfiqur Rahim hits Shahzad for four.
3.16 Comeback over, Rahim out, courtesy of Finn. 76 for 7.
3.42 Razzak aims to go down fighting as he hits Graeme Swann for two fours and a six.
3.58 Bangladesh all out. England win.
Old Trafford Scoreboard
England First Innings
Friday Overnight: 275-5 (K P Pietersen 64)
I Bell b Al Hasan 128
255 balls 12 fours 1 six
†M Prior c Islam b Al Hasan 93
170 balls 9 fours
G Swann lbw b Razzak 20
17 balls 3 fours
A Shahzad c Razzak b Al Hasan 5
12 balls 1 four
J Anderson not out 2
S Finn lbw b Al Hasan 0
Extras (b 6, lb 5, w 4, nb 2) 17
Total (121.3 overs) 419
Fall: 1-44, 2-48, 3-83, 4-153, 5-223, 6-376, 7-399, 8-414, 9-419.
Bowling: S Hossain 21-3-84-1, S Islam 21-2-63-2, Mahmudullah 12-1-31-0, S Al Hasan 37.3-4-121-5, A Razzak 30-3-109-2.
Bangladesh First Innings
Tamim Iqbal c Prior b Anderson 108
114 balls 11 fours 1 six
Imrul Kayes c Shahzad b Finn 36
71 balls 4 fours
Junaid Siddique c Prior b Swann 1
Jahurul Islam b Swann 5
14 balls 1 four
Mohammad Ashraful c Morgan b Shahzad 11
45 balls 1 four
*Shakib Al Hasan c Anderson b Swann 10
20 balls 2 fours
†Mushfiqur Rahim c Anderson b Swann 11
23 balls 1 four
M Mahmudullah b Shahzad 8
10 balls 1 four
Shafiul Islam b Shahzad 4
9 balls 1 four
Abdur Razzak not out 0
Shahadat Hossain lbw b Swann 0
Extras (b 4, lb 7, w 8, nb 3) 22
Total (54.1 overs) 216
Fall: 1-126, 2-153, 3-169, 4-169, 5-185, 6-200, 7-210, 8-214, 9-216.
Bowling: J Anderson 14-4-45-1, S Finn 8-1-39-1, G Swann 22.1-4-76-5, A Shahzad 10-2-45-3.
Second Innings (following on)
Tamim Iqbal c Prior b Anderson 2
Imrul Kayes c Shahzad b Finn 9
17 balls 2 fours
Junaid Siddique c Pietersen b Anderson 6
22 balls 1 four
Mohammad Ashraful c Trott b Anderson 14
14 balls 2 four
Jahurul Islam c Prior b Finn 0
*Shakib Al Hasan b Shahzad 1
†Mushfiqur Rahim c sub b Finn 13
42 balls 2 fours
M Mahmudullah c Prior b Finn 38
52 balls 5 fours
Abdur Razzak c Morgan b Swann 19
22 balls 2 fours 1 six
Shafiul Islam c Strauss b Finn 4
Shahadat Hossain not out 4
3 balls 1 four
Extras (b 13) 13
Total (34.1 overs) 123
Fall: 1-2, 2-14, 3-18, 4-21, 5-37, 6-39, 7-76, 8-97, 9-119.
Bowling: J Anderson 10-3-16-3, S Finn 10-2-41-5, A Shahzad 7-2-18-1, G Swann 7.1-0-34-1.