On the Front Foot: Englishmen do their duty and prove a class act for Mirpur kids
Sunday 28 February 2010
England have hit the ground running. Regardless of the result in the one-day series which starts today (it should finish 0-3 to England who are the only country that Bangladesh have yet to beat in a limited-overs match) they have performed their extra-curricular activities with distinction. True, it is hard to imagine any member of Alastair Cook's squad seeking out the opportunity for individual adventure. Or even venturing out of the five-star air-conditioned hotel set among Dhaka's traffic-ridden urban sprawl for so much as a half-hour journey in a rickshaw. Not that a half-hour journey in a rickshaw would get you beyond the first roundabout 100 yards away. But they have fulfilled their organised duties with aplomb, willingness and genuine humility. It was touching to see them at the Sher-e-Bangla Government Primary School in Mirpur on Friday afternoon. The children were clearly entranced and the players, to a man, were touched to be there and affected by the overwhelming reception. Matt Prior ran round the field waving, followed by scores of pupils happy as Larry to have him and his team-mates there. The event was organised in conjunction with the World Food Programme, which England's cricketers have been quietly supporting in several ports of call these past few years. It would be a stretch to say that the entire party would choose to be here than anywhere else in the world at present, but with no discernible exceptions they know and appreciate why it is important to be here.
No High Commission jinks
High Commission bashes have been on the wane on recent England tours. There was a welcome resumption at the British High Commission in Dhaka on Friday. The touring party (and hangers-on) were given a most convivial evening at which High Commissioner Stephen Evans was the host. Not a scent of any high jinks as there might have been years ago, the team mingled with the expatriate community who made up much of the guest list. This tour is a much appreciated diversion for many. Bangladesh has obvious and public difficulties, not least the poverty living side by side with a burgeoning middle class. For Evans, who has been in situ since 2008, it may still be less challenging than his previous postings. A South Asia expert, he was British Ambassador in Afghanistan before arriving here and High Commissioner in Sri Lanka when the tsunami struck.
Richmond find their range
Another English team is here: Richmond Rangers, the touring arm of the Surrey club who perversely play in the Middlesex League. Playing in Bangladesh at the same time as England was too good an opportunity to miss. It was encouraged by former player Chris Austin, Britain's representative here with the Department for International Development. Organiser Ian Moore has just nine other players of various vintage so Austin may be pressed back into service to make the XI.
King Khan routs Ken and Co
The first English team to play in Dhaka (or Dacca as it was then) were MCC in 1956 when it was still in Pakistan. It didn't go well for the tourists: Khan Mohammad, the Pakistan pacer who died last year, took 12 wickets to bowl out a side containing Ken Barrington and Brian Close for 172 and 105, enough to lose by an innings.
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