Johnson likely to replace spinner as captain's ship springs leak

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The Independent Online

During a winter that sees England play Test cricket in locations as exotic as Barbados, Antigua and Sri Lanka, it would be fair to say that this city is the destination Michael Vaughan's squad have least looked forward to visiting.

Situated 165 miles south-east of Dhaka on the Bay of Bengal, with a population of three million, it is Bangladesh's second largest city. As befits the country's major port, the coastline is littered with huge container ships, and the shoreline north of the city is used as a huge shipbreaking yard.

Every kind of vessel from supertanker to tugboat is dismantled, and it is all done with manual labour. Hundreds of workers use blowtorches, sledgehammers and their bare hands to take apart ships which are five to seven storeys high present a remarkable sight. An hour here would be enough to make Stephen Harmison and Matthew Hoggard realise that there are tougher jobs in the sub-continent than bowling 50 overs in 40C heat.

The task for Vaughan and Duncan Fletcher over the next week is to make sure that these unglamorous surroundings, and England's seven-wicket victory in Dhaka, do not have a negative effect on their cricket during the second Test, which starts on Wednesday. In the past such destinations have brought out the worst in England touring sides. On England's drawn two-Test tour of Zimbabwe in December 1996, the "what are we doing here?" attitude became prevalent and a siege mentality came to the fore.

If England do let off-field matters affect them, it could result in a major upset because Bangladesh are coming close to winning their first Test match.

"We realise that in conditions like this you just have to get on with your cricket," Vaughan said yesterday evening after a five-hour journey from Dhaka. "You can't make excuses, even though they are always there for you in this part of the world if you want to make them. You have to get on with your cricket and try to play to your best. Our aim is to play in the way we have set ourselves here and that is to build on our performance in the first Test match."

Though the margin of victory in Dhaka appears comfortable, England were in a contest until they blew Bangladesh away on the final morning. For the hosts it was the third Test in a row that they had failed to capitalise on a good position, and they will not win until they handle this pressure or a player puts in an exceptional performance.

Bangladesh still seem to be in awe of their opponents. Indeed, after their first ever Test, against Australia, several players went in the Aussie dressing-room to ask for autographs.

England's win was made on the back of fine performances from Harmison, Hoggard, Marcus Trescothick, Graham Thorpe and the captain. Vaughan will now look for contributions from those who failed to make any impact on the first Test.

"We are looking to up our performance from the first Test," he said. "Bangladesh were excellent on days three and four, and we were not up to scratch. We should have come up with a few more runs in our first innings and a few more plans for their batsmen in their second. We will be trying to do this over the next week but it will be a pretty tough game for us."

England should be better prepared, but are still undecided over who to select. Given the composed way in which the Bangladeshi batsmen played the spinners, Ashley Giles and Gareth Batty, and the uncomfortable manner in which they played Harmison and Hoggard, the selectors are under pressure to pick a third fast bowler.

The Somerset pace bowler Richard Johnson should play because Bangladesh would rather face spin. He would also lessen the workload on Hoggard and Harmison who are unlikely to repeat their heroics of the first Test because they are still recovering from their efforts.

Somebody has to make way, but who out of Giles, Batty and Rikki Clarke should be dropped? The selectors seem reluctant to move Chris Read up to bat at six, so Clarke seems certain to keep his place, meaning the decision is between Giles and Batty.

ENGLAND (from): M P Vaughan (Yorkshire, capt), M E Trescothick (Somerset), M A Butcher (Surrey), N Hussain (Essex), G P Thorpe (Surrey), R Clarke (Surrey), C M W Read (Nottinghamshire, wkt), G J Batty (Worcestershire), A F Giles (Warwickshire), S J Harmison (Durham), M J Hoggard (Yorkshire), P D Collingwood (Durham), R L Johnson (Somerset).

BANGLADESH (from): Khaled Mahmud (capt), Javed Omar, Rajin Saleh, Hannan Sarkar, Moniruzzaman, Mushfiqur Rahman, Habibul Bashar, Alok Kapali, Mohammad Rafique, Tapash Baisya, Khaled Mashud (wkt), Mashrafe Mortaza, Enamul Haque Junior.

* Gary Kirsten hit his 19th Test century yesterday in Faisalabad as South Africa set Pakistan a target of 302 runs to win the second Test.The hosts, already 1-0 up in the two-match series, ended the fourth day on 8 for 0 after South Africa declared after tea on 371 for 8.