Vaughan refuses to tinker with England
Friday 03 June 2005
Sunday lunchtime or Monday morning? Estimates of when the second Test between England and Bangladesh will end vary. It is difficult to see today's game following a different course to the mismatch we witnessed at Lord's a week ago. In the first Test England completed an emphatic innings and 261-run victory on the third morning - the equivalent of Sunday lunchtime.
But at Chester-le-Street many feel the game may last longer. Sadly, these views have nothing to do with Bangladesh putting up a better performance - the weather forecast in the North-east of England is indifferent for the next couple of days. It would take rain of monsoon proportions to deprive England of their second Test victory at this venue, but the timing of the win is not as important as the performance of the players.
England face the toughest battle of them all over the coming months and this match offers most of Michael Vaughan's side one final chance of playing in first-class conditions before they take on Australia.
A one-day extravaganza starts on 13 June with the inaugural Twenty20 match between England and Australia. These two sides - barring the miracle of Bangladesh reaching the final of the NatWest series - will then spend a month playing seven 50-over matches against each other. And during this period one team will gain a psychological advantage. Over the next three or four days England need to ensure that those who play against the Aussies are in the best possible condition.
With these matches in mind it would probably be in England's interest if two or three of their top order batsmen were to get out for 50 or 60 having spent two or three hours at the crease. This would allow Andrew Flintoff and Geraint Jones the chance to spend some time in the middle.
"We will not be changing the batting order around unless the state of the game or condition of the pitch dictates we should," Vaughan said. "We want to make sure players get used to batting in certain positions. I have just switched from four to three and Ian Bell is new to the team and we need to get used to batting with each other. I am not a fan of getting too clever and tinkering with the game - it can come back and bite you."
This consistent approach started when England named the same team that won at Lord's. Ashley Giles' hip injury means that Gareth Batty gets another opportunity to impress, although he will be hoping to do a bit more than he did at Lord's, where he did not bat or bowl.
The Worcestershire all-rounder could get a bat here, but after looking at the pitch, which is expected to give the seamers help, he will realise that his off-spin may not be required.
"We have picked the same team and we are looking for the same sort of performance," Vaughan said. "We intend to play with the same intensity as we did at Lord's. The weather and the pitch could make life even more uncomfortable for the Bangladeshi batsmen. The Riverside ground has the reputation of doing a bit for the first 30 to 35 overs of each innings."
At Lord's this was the length of time it took England to bowl Bangladesh out in each innings. But despite this England could have bowled better in the visitors' first innings. It is a criticism Vaughan accepts and it is a fault he knows his bowlers need to correct.
"It is not a worry," he said. "The bowlers are very good at analysing their own performance. Matthew Hoggard and Stephen Harmison agreed that in the first 10 overs they were not at their best, but as soon as that had gone I thought we were excellent.
"We realise that we will have to get it right from ball one later on in the summer, and we have to make sure we get into good habits now. If we don't get it right straight away against a better team, we could be out of the game pretty quick."
Bangladesh are unlikely to expose these mistakes, and they have two fitness concerns going into the match. Mushfiqur Rahim, a 16-year-old debutant at Lord's, is doubtful after spraining his ankle at the team hotel yesterday, and Tapash Baisya has a sore Achilles. If Rahim fails a fitness test today he will be replaced by Rajin Saleh.
England: M P Vaughan (c), M E Trescothick, A J Strauss, I R Bell, G P Thorpe, A Flintoff, G O Jones, G J Batty, M J Hoggard, S P Jones, SJ Harmison.
Bangladesh (from): Habibul Bashar (c), Javed Belim, Nafees Iqbal, Aftab Ahmed, Mohammad Ashraful, Mushfiqur Rahim, Rajin Saleh, Khaled Mashud, Mohammad Rafique, Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, Anwar Hossain, Shahadat Hossain, Tapash Baisya.
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