Hoggard's wayward aim still too true for brittle Bangladesh

<preform>BANGLADESH 108 </br> ENGLAND 188-1</preform>
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The Independent Online

It is to be hoped that England's bowlers, having dismissed Bangladesh for the paltry total of 108, did not return to their dressing room yesterday afternoon believing they had bowled well.

It is to be hoped that England's bowlers, having dismissed Bangladesh for the paltry total of 108, did not return to their dressing room yesterday afternoon believing they had bowled well.

Their accuracy improved as the opening day of this mismatch wore on, but, with the exception of Simon Jones, who bowled just six of the 38.2 overs it took for Michael Vaughan's side to dismiss Test cricket's weakest nation, England's bowling was unspectacular.

Even so it was still far too good for a Bangladeshi batting line-up that looks incapable of dealing with the hostility of this quartet. It is in the game's interest to see the Bengalis develop into a competitive Test nation but this was men against boys. Matthew Hoggard took four wickets but Duncan Fletcher, the England coach, will be aware that his attack will need to show far greater discipline if they are to loosen Australia's stranglehold on the Ashes.

England's bowlers were not the only members of Vaughan's side to enjoy easy pickings. While Hoggard, Stephen Harmison, Andrew Flintoff and Jones contemplated an easy morning's work, the batsmen began tucking into Bangladesh's limited attack.

Andrew Strauss was the only England player to lose his wicket, and by the end of a one-sided day Marcus Trescothick and Vaughan had eased their side to 188 for 1. Trescothick's innings contained several trademark cuts and pulls and he looks determined to gorge himself. Vaughan, returning to bat at No 3, looked less convincing and could easily have been out on a couple of occasions.

Nafees Iqbal was the first to lose his wicket when he fenced at a short of a length delivery from Harmison and edged a simple catch to Trescothick at first slip. Nafees scored a century against England during a warm-up game in Dhaka in 2003-04, but the match conditions then were somewhat different to those he encountered yesterday.

It was a pitch with a green tinge to it, along with the prospect of the new ball swinging, which encouraged Vaughan to bowl first. He was some way from the stage where he was questioning his decision - Bangladesh are not good enough to expose such errors - but he must have been disappointed with the early bowling of Harmison and Hoggard.

Both pacemen failed to pitch enough balls in wicket-taking areas and conceded too many no-balls. Hoggard revealed that his overstepping was the result of Troy Cooley marking his run up wrong, but the Yorkshireman could not blame the England bowling coach for his lack of control.

Nafees, playing in his first Test outside Bangladesh, could be excused for his tentative waft, but the same cannot be said of Habibul Bashar. The 32-year-old Bangladesh captain is the visitors' most experienced batsman, has hit three of the 10 centuries posted by Bangladesh and averages almost 35 in Tests.

It is hard to imagine what was going through his head when he tried to pull his third ball. Hoggard, bowling from the Nursery End, was becoming frustrated with his inability to find the right line but he was gifted his first wicket through Habibul's appalling stroke.

Aftab Ahmed and Javed Belim took Bangladesh from 34 for 2 to 65 for 2 through a combination of good fortune and the odd pleasant shot, but there is a limit to the number of times a batsman can flash at good length balls and survive. So it came as no surprise to anyone in the 14,000 crowd when Aftab edged a loose drive at Flintoff and the ball flew to second slip. Strauss juggled the sharp chance but hung on.

Javed perished in the next over when he tried to drive a Jones delivery which merited a defensive stroke. The Glamorgan paceman, in his second over, was hitting the pitch hard and moving the ball down the slope. But this failed to perturb the diminutive right-hander, who edged a simple catch to Trescothick at first slip.

Small batsmen who leave the ball well can be difficult to bowl at on surfaces of pace and bounce. They often force fast bowlers to change their natural length, which they are reluctant to do. But it is risky for men of this stature to try to force balls that are travelling past them at hip height. Keeping the ball on the floor is virtually impossible and a reckless approach inevitably leads to catches in the slips.

Vaughan was fully aware of this and for long periods put six catchers between the wicketkeeper and gully. The bizarre dismissal of Mohammad Ashraful had nothing to do with these fielders, though. The 20-year-old is one of Bangladesh's leading batsmen yet he watched a Flintoff full toss strike him on the boot. Umpire Daryl Harper had no option but to raise his finger.

Mushfiqur Rahim, the 16-year-old debutant, and Kahled Mashud batted with discipline after lunch but the dismissal of Kahled, who was unlucky to go lbw, signalled the end of any resistance. Mohammad Rafique ran himself out before Harmison and Hoggard mopped up the tail.