A chap rang up a ticket line the other day to buy a ticket for the one-day match between England and Australia at The Oval.
He was told that he would be lucky since the game had been sold out months ago. If, however, he would like tickets for the game between England and Bangladesh at Bristol they would name a stand after him.
The second match of the NatWest Series at the Nevill Ground takes place today. It has been a hard sell which the promise of dedicated stands has done nothing to ease since it also means having to attend the match.
High summer in England was not meant for one-day matches against Bangladesh, a team who have played 24 international matches in 2010 (seven Tests, 14 one-day internationals and three Twenty20s) and lost the lot. Of course, the fraternity of senior cricketing nations must support, encourage and, indeed, play against Bangladesh because it is the only way forward but perhaps not right now on the ground where W G Grace strutted his stuff.
The only possible points in favour of this series are that England must fulfil obligations under the Future Tours Programme and that they need all the one-day cricket they can get of whatever quality before the World Cup next year.
They still play fewer one-day internationals than the other senior nations who are in thrall to it. But the season has hardly started in England and already fatigue has set in. Part of it is to do with the surfeit, part of it with the quality within that surfeit.
If England lose today – and on the grounds that Bangladesh have to win some time it is possible – it will be considered cataclysmic. Proof indeed, as the management continues to insist, that England are a long way from the finished article.
But everything points to a predictable victory, as at Trent Bridge in the series opener on Thursday. England bowled indifferently at the top of the order but were always likely to get away with it.
They may at least continue to find out a few things about a few players. Craig Kieswetter, for instance, started his international career explosively but has been patently short of runs lately, despite some promising starts. To his credit, he seems unworried but he also has the added task of forming an opening partnership with the captain, Andrew Strauss.
It has not gone swimmingly so far, though it is to be hoped Kieswetter was displaying that old South African element in his humour when he said yesterday: "I think I have got to realise I am not batting with another 22-year-old. I am batting with an old man at the other end and we will have to see about our running. The last thing I think is that he's the captain. It is more that he is the old man and I have got to hit it through the in-field before I call him for a single."
Strauss may be 34 but remains the fastest man over 20 yards in the side and at this rate he will be 44 before England lose to Bangladesh.
England (from): A J Strauss (capt), J M Anderson, I R Bell, T T Bresnan, S C J Broad, P D Collingwood, C Kieswetter (wk), E J G Morgan, Ajmal Shahzad, J C Tredwell, I J LTrott, L J Wright, M H Yardy.
Bangladesh (from): Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), Shakib Al Hasan (vice-capt), Abdur Razzak, Faisal Hossain, Imrul Kayes, Jahurul Islam, Junaid Siddique, Mahmudullah, Nazmul Hossain, Rubel Hossain, Shafiul Islam, Syed Rasel, Tamim Iqbal, Mohammad Ashraful, Saghir Hossain.
Umpires R Illingworth (Eng), A Rauf (Pak).Reuse content