All to play for down by the sea. A three-day match between Bangladesh A and a side passing itself off as England might not sound as though it will trouble historians in years to come but there are Test places at stake on both sides.
The tourists fielded a motley crew, consisting of four uncapped players, one of whom, Steve Finn, had flown in from England less than 24 hours previously and another, Tim Bresnan, who had not been in the original squad.
All knew they were vying for a spot in the first Test match beginning here on Friday, but, like everybody else, the chances of them knowing much more were slim. England Test teams are a secret more closely guarded than Lord Ashcroft's tax affairs. The tourists' management believe in giving the opposition nowt, and knowledge of the starting XI any time before the toss would definitely be summat.
By the close of the opening day of a match being played only three strips away from the Test pitch, matters might have become clearer for the tourists. Not that they were telling. James Tredwell, the second spinner in the squad along with fellow off-break bowler Graeme Swann, took 6 for 95 in a prolonged spell from the Ispahani End at the Divisional Stadium and Kevin Pietersen was out for two, yet again to left-arm spin, having faced five balls.
Pietersen's previous scores in this country were 0, 6, 1, 18 and 22 and, yes, people are counting now. Pietersen needs runs quickly. England, having bowled out the opposition for 202, were 68 for 3 in reply.
Pietersen cut a forlorn figure as he walked off, but he did so with a no- nonsense air. It was left to Tredwell, hero of the day, to say: "He was a bit upset. He would have liked to get a score but you know what KP is like. He's a confident character and I'm sure he'll come bouncing back in the short-term." His team-mates keep saying that, but the short-term is running out.
Tredwell bowled 27 unchanged overs – and might have needed a deserved cup of tea from the producers after whom the end is named – before being switched when the 10th-wicket pair proved stubborn. That did the trick and he needed only three balls to finish the innings.
It has been a fascinating winter for Tredwell. He received a sudden call-up early on the tour of South Africa and was meant to be away only for 10 days as cover for the then-injured Swann. He and Bethan, his wife of a month, were in the middle of decorating.
But Tredwell was invited to stay for the whole tour and was selected ahead of the leg-spinner, Adil Rashid, for this trip. Mrs Tredwell has finished painting the kitchen. It is 17 years since England last played two off-spinners in the same side, John Emburey and Peter Such having played at Birmingham against Australia in 1993, unless the combination of Emburey and the off-spinning all-rounder Mike Watkinson at Old Trafford in 1995, is counted.
"They have have a lot of left-handers and we're both going to be causing similar problems with the ball turning away, which is perceived to be the toughest thing," said Tredwell. "I take the pace off a bit more than Swanny but maybe that's not the way to go here."
Tredwell's action is not of the vintage sort but he turned the ball often enough and at a quicker pace than usual to trouble Bangladesh A. But it was difficult to think that Bangladesh B, C or D would have been much less adept. Only Raqibul Hasan played with something approaching durability.
He and Bangladesh's most illustrious batsman, Mohammad Ashraful, were both picked in this match to try to re-establish their credentials for the Test series. Only Raqibul, whose 107 not out was a model of judgement, succeeded. There were three sixes, all off Tredwell, and 15 fours, while for Ashraful there was only misery.
When he was still 16, Ashraful scored a century on his Test debut against Sri Lanka and his celebrity multiplied when he did likewise in a famous one-day international against Australia in 2005. But his days in the sun have markedly declined of late and he asked to miss the one-day series against England to try to find some form playing domestically. His four innings have yielded a top score of 21 and three ducks, to which he added one paltry run yesterday before he prodded at Tredwell to become the second of Ian Bell's three catches at short leg.
Tredwell's appearance in the Test is still not certain and while he took most of the wickets, it was possible to believe that there was a bowler on show who might have a more enduring international career, though it will presumably not begin this week. Finn, from Watford, is 6ft 7in tall and his two wickets were both from edges induced by the bounce his height enabled him to extract.
Liam Plunkett, who has been around on tour all winter, Ajmal Shahzad and Bresnan were all given a reasonable work-out. Plunkett bowled the usual mixture of the almost unplayable and dross, while Bresnan was steady and Shahzad might have something and the selectors might think so too.
When England batted, Michael Carberry, whose place as opener suggests that is what he is earmarked for on Friday, was leg-before for one. It will probably be his only innings before the Test match starts but it should not change any minds.
Bangladesh A v England: Chittagong scoreboard
Bangladesh A v England (First day of three)
Bangladesh A won toss
Siddique c Prior b Shahzad ......... 16
Shamsur Rahman c Bell b Tredwell ......... 21
Mehrab Hossain jnr c Prior b Plunkett ......... 9
Raqibul Hasan not out ......... 107
*Mohammad Ashraful c Bell b Tredwell ......... 1
Chowdhury c Finn b Tredwell ......... 9
†Saghir Hossain c Prior b Finn ......... 12
Mahmud c Prior b Finn......... 0
Nur Hossain c Bell b Tredwell ......... 6
Rasel b Tredwell ......... 1
Islam c Pietersen b Tredwell ......... 4
Extras (b1 lb3 w6 nb6 pens 0) ......... 16
Total (70.3 overs) ......... 202
Fall: 1-21 2-49 3-71 4-76 5-97 6-132 7-132 8-158 9-176
Bowling: Bresnan 13-4-29-0; Shahzad 12-2-26-1; Plunkett 11-3-35-1; Finn 7-2-13-2; Tredwell 27.3-8-95-6.
M A Carberry lbw b Mahmud ......... 5
*A N Cook lbw b Islam ......... 19
I J L Trott not out ......... 32
K P Pietersen c Saghir Hossain b Mehrab Ho ......... 2
I R Bell not out ......... 2
Extras (lb2 nb6 pens 0) ......... 8
Total 3 wkts (17 overs) ......... 68
Fall: 1-7 2-60 3-64
To bat: †M J Prior, T T Bresnan, A Shahzad, J C Tredwell, L E Plunkett, S T Finn.
Bowling: Islam 7-1-27-1; Mahmud 5-0-23-1; Nur Hossain 4-0-13-0; Mehrab Hossain Jnr 1-0-3-1
Umpires: Mahfuzur Rahman and Samiur Rahman
Women's Twenty20: England pegged back
India's women levelled the Twenty20 series against England with a 30-run win in Mumbai yesterday. The hosts bowled England out for 96 in reply to their 126 for 7.
Danielle Hazell and Laura Marsh took three wickets apiece for England while Lydia Greenway was England's top scorer with 29.
England captain Charlotte Edwards said: "We lost too many wickets and made it hard for our later batsmen. We just didn't play well enough.'' The final match is today.Reuse content